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Most contractors aren’t taking full advantage of the telematics data they collect. A recent survey found that while 86% of companies use telematics, only 23% make use of analytics features to drive cost efficiencies and inform strategic decision-making. That’s a problem because in today’s market environment, a data-driven approach plays an important role in helping contractors maintain a competitive edge.

It’s time to expand the use of telematics beyond basic metrics

Many companies currently use telematics for basic functions, such as tracking vehicle and equipment locations, logging service hours and monitoring speed. These metrics can improve driver safety and reduce accidents, provided companies act on the data collected rather than simply record it for compliance purposes.

To optimize telematics and increase ROI, contractors need to expand the use of telematics to include equipment idle times, fuel usage and other metrics. One construction company using telematics data cut its idling time by 37%, saving 5,205 gallons in wasted fuel and $18,000 in fuel expenses in one quarter alone.

But in addition to cost concerns, many contractors feel like they don’t have the time to learn how to use new systems, let alone learn how to make use of the resulting data. While these concerns are valid, they miss the mark. Instead of focusing on short-term requirements, contractors need to consider the long-term payoff—over time, the data and insights telematics generate can produce significant time and cost savings for the business.

Taking telematics to the next level

A number of factors have resulted in a more competitive construction landscape over the past few years. New builds have become more commoditized, while an uncertain trade war and expanding industrial tariffs have driven up the price of common building materials. The industry is also experiencing higher demand for innovative, greener building techniques at the same time as the skilled labor shortage continues to leave many construction companies understaffed. And shifting safety rules make regulatory compliance a constant struggle.

With all these factors at play, it’s easy for the implementation or expansion of telematics to move to the back burner. Yet, telematics can help contractors tackle these issues by enabling them to achieve several important benefits, including the following.

1. Lower costs

Of companies that use telematics, 55% reported reduced fuel costs. Lower driving speeds translate to huge reductions in fuel consumption. Telematics technology can remind drivers to slow down and record fuel usage over time—data that companies can use to calculate optimal speeds and inform strategic fleet investments. Telematics solutions can also help curb excessive idling, a massive source of unproductive fuel usage. Industry experts say that idle time can account for up to half of total running time. Telematics differentiates between work and idle time, flagging drivers who idle excessively so companies can enact behavioral training and significantly reduce idle time. 

2. Improved compliance

Most telematics solutions automatically track hours of service (HOS), saving companies the headache of manual logging hours and thousands of dollars in fines for violating electronic logging device (ELD) laws. Similarly, telematics devices use GPS technology to track when drivers cross state lines, helping companies comply with fuel taxes and maximize reimbursements. Telematics benefits drivers, too; the technology provides performance feedback and helps drivers correct unsafe behavior before an accident occurs. In fact, 42% of companies reported fewer safety incidents after using telematics to monitor driver behavior.

3. Better resource management

Contractors often deal with last-minute changes that can quickly take up valuable time, resources and energy. But many contractors are finding success managing assets with telematics. A simple inventory check on a smartphone is all they need to know which drivers and materials can be diverted to different jobs. Similarly, contractors can use telematics data to determine their optimal scaling needs, including when to invest in more trailers or whether they can downsize to one loader with multiple attachments. 

4. More preventative maintenance

Construction companies, especially those with small fleets, can go temporarily out of commission when a major piece of equipment breaks down unexpectedly. Telematics data more accurately predicts service issues, allowing contractors to proactively address maintenance needs, reduce workflow interruption and save on intensive repairs.

These are just a handful of the ways telematics analytics can drive smarter business strategy and innovation. Many companies are understandably overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information made available with this technology. Contractors should start by identifying their unique business challenges and opportunities, then look for telematics providers that address these needs.

Hiring a telematics data analyst is another way to streamline the process. No matter their business priorities, contractors can glean valuable insights and get ahead of their competition with a more data-driven approach to telematics.


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