From software to hardware, implementing new technology or equipment companywide is challenging. It has to be the correct solution and provide the company with numerous benefits.
But where can construction companies start? How can they put together a plan for selecting and deploying new equipment? Taking that a step further, how can they determine which technology to leverage on equipment? The first step is to understand the equipment and technology—and there are a few areas that stand out as necessary for the jobsite.
Andrew Kahler, product marketing manager, John Deere WorkSight, says there are four categories of new equipment tech that should be on the jobsite.
- Grade control systems: These guidance systems help an operator know where the cutting edge of the tool is. Technology also automates the cutting edge to make it more productive and it reduces the wear on the equipment. The technology can help a novice operator use the equipment.
- Payload weighing system: This system can track the amount of materials moving on the jobsite. It can also make sure a truck isn’t overloaded, leading to a fine.
- Telematics: Telematics can be equipped on every tool on the jobsite. It provides the hours used and the location of the equipment. Telematics track the maintenance by monitoring the equipment in the field and identifying when something needs to be fixed. It reduces the downtime on the equipment.
- Drones: The benefit is using them for 3D topography and tracking the status of the project. It helps contractors know the state of the project. Drones are also useful for inventory tracking of materials and stockpiles. Drones can survey an area much quicker than traditional methods.
Having new equipment on the jobsite helps not only the project, but the industry as a whole. Kahler explains, “It helps qualify the workforce available in the industry. They become more productive. The equipment is more productive. We now have streams of data for the jobsite and it can be managed better. Machine utilization helps business leaders.”
Maximize Construction Site Efficiency
To maximize site efficiency and competitiveness, both on-board and off-board technologies should be used today, according to Jason Hurdis, senior market professional, Caterpillar Inc.
“On-board technology such as grade, payload, and compact will reduce costs with less rework, increased production, less fuel consumption, and less material costs,” explains Hurdis. “Off-board technology such as telematics will allow equipment tracking such as location, hours, maintenance, production, fuel consumption, and fuel efficiency. By monitoring these jobsite traits, adjustments can be made quickly to maximize uptime, adjust schedules, and provide daily status reports to enhance jobsite efficiencies.”
Having new equipment with this technology on the jobsite can provide contractors with several advantages, including greater productivity and efficiency. Construction companies are able to do more with less, as the market begins to pick up.
Kahler says, “One machine can do the job of two. Having equipment connected reduces downtime and increases production. The level of automation on the equipment helps a lot of novice operators learn and get better on the jobsite. Telematics can record idle time of a machine and help reduce it. There is also equipment utilization with it. Contractors can see if the equipment is being under or over utilized.”
New or Used Equipment?
Some construction companies are continuing to use older, used equipment, but the new equipment comes with a number of benefits. Technology, for instance, can help improve productivity and site efficiency, but there are a number of other benefits that come along with leveraging new equipment.
Case in point: New equipment also provides advantages in warranty, emission compliance, uptime, and machine efficiencies in higher production, lower fuel consumption, and operator comfort.
Hurdis explains, “New or newer machines result in less down (time), less costs from maintenance and repair, improved performance from latest design methodologies, and increase operator comfort, which increases the operator efficiency...the more comfortable the operator is over an 8 or 10 or 12 hour day, the higher their production potential.”
Putting a Plan in Place
As exciting as the possibilities that the technology on new equipment can provide, actually deploying it on the jobsite to the contractors takes time and planning.
“I would not suggest jumping with both feet into any technology,” says Hurdis. “My recommendation is one piece at a time. Start small; prove the benefits of the technology within your company and with your team members. Then expand that technology within your fleet and/or add the next technology.
He points to a simple example: Add grade to one tractor, get the operator used to the system, allow the supervisors/managers to see and document benefits in less rework, faster project completion, less operator fatigue, less material costs, and overall improve efficiencies.
As the technologies for equipment and the jobsite grow, construction companies will be able to embrace and adopt the new equipment available. To remain competitive in today’s market, adopting the technology will be crucial. And it starts one piece of equipment at a time.