The Future of Telematics in Construction

For the past 10 years, the construction industry has made steady strides to deliver on the promise of the data-driven jobsite. One of the hottest topics in this area has been telematics. With telematics, fleet managers can keep track of what equipment is on a jobsite, and also how each piece is functioning. Such information can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and boost profits.

In spite of its potential and the fact that the technology has been widely available, only some heavy equipment is instrumented with telematics today. This is partly due to long decision-making cycles and expensive hardware.

Another challenge is the fact vendors only offer data from their products on their specific user-facing software. A construction company that owns machines equipped with different telematics devices must juggle several dashboards and consolidate the different data from each screen.

An additional hurdle is the fact jobsites do not always have reliable cell, Wi-Fi, or satellite access. There is no contingency plan to collect important data in these cases.

There is some hope for these issues with telematics. In 2013, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) moved to standardize telematics data across all makes, and in July 2016 a mixed-fleet telematics protocol already widely adopted by AEM and AEMP members was approved by the International Standards Organization as a global standard. The standard was published and available to all companies as of December 2016. As a result, platforms will have full access to telematics across mixed fleets, providing contractors with their first holistic view of machinery in motion.

As more construction management software shifts to mobile apps, so will telematics dashboards. Mobile access to data will enable increased collaboration among all workers on a jobsite, as it pertains to optimizing equipment usage.

More optimization will take place in the future, which will change the way telematics data is presented and visualized. Instead of showing as much information as possible, data will be streamlined and packaged into relevant insights that can quickly inform actions that need to be taken to help a contractor be more efficient and save money.

With most things related to big data in construction, realizing the cost benefits of telematics involves data access, storage, and management that give jobsite operations and safety supervisors real-time strategic information without having to analyze the data themselves. The contractor doesn’t want to mess with technology. They need the data to work in the background.

For most telematics adopters, those decisions center on equipment and fleet-performance optimization. By monitoring machine status, telematics improves profitability by eliminating unplanned downtime for corrective maintenance, identifying excessive runtime and engine stress leading to fuel waste and otherwise keeping equipment fine-tuned and ready to roll.

Optimized preventive maintenance is a huge benefit from telematics. Over-maintenance can be as expensive as under-maintenance, and telematics helps to solve the bigger problem of tracking performance to make the best repair and replace decisions.

As jobsites expand in size and complexity, telematics will be necessary for identifying equipment, location, and status for optimized scheduling and performance. With the standardization of telematics data now a reality in the construction vertical, the next generation of systems will seek to consolidate and display data in ways that are actionable and profitable to workers and supervisors on the jobsite.

Related Articles