If These Trucks Could Talk: Gaining Insights from Machinery



 By Duane Gabor  

If you were given the choice to have an extra skilled worker or a computer join your site crew, chances are you’d rather have the laborer. While we still are years or even decades away from machinery running job sites, paired with the proper technology it can make a major impact on our daily work.

Emerging technologies that help generate data from onsite equipment and automate tasks are transforming the way we work in the construction industry today. To learn more, I recently sat down with Ryan Crandell from LoJack to discuss ways customers have achieved significant value just from measuring and reporting on data from their worksites. 

DG: When we think about innovation in the construction industry, it’s often for technology out on the field rather than in the back office. How are some of your customers using technology for reporting to drive better insights?

RC: From inspection reports, inventory lists and check lists to safety reports and time and attendance tracking, so much of construction revolves around processing paper. But the fact is we don’t get paid on paperwork. To drive the most value, construction firms need their folks out on the job site building and making progress rather than locked in the back office. Technology solutions that can read data from construction equipment and automate time tracking and other manual tasks allow users to get the information they need without spending hours compiling it. As a result, they’re faster, more accurate and more efficient, which speeds up payables, and ensures everything a team needs is onsite when they need it - all while cutting down on the piles of paperwork in the field.

DG: Speaking of data from machines on the field, can you discuss some of the interesting use cases you’ve seen for this?

RC: I often hear people saying that “data is the new fuel.” In our line of work I feel that data is really the new “fuel saver.” From my own client base, I’ve seen a lot of organizations drive significant value simply by collecting and analyzing fuel management data and fuel card purchasing data. By connecting the dots between when the vehicle was fueled and how many gallons used versus what you should have used, companies can identify fraud, theft or bad driving habits, which can all affect the bottom line.

DG: Fascinating. Are there any other examples that come to mind?

RC: Absolutely! One of the newest trends in construction technology is the emergence of asset and fleet management technology. These track everything from where vehicles are via GPS to how much time each truck spends on the job sites. Construction firms can use vehicle location information to understand and better manage project costs by geofencing project locations.

DG: How else are construction companies managing asset and fleet management today?

RC: Equipment or asset tracking is used for equipment inventory management and allocation in the field. Companies use these solutions for related tasks, like managing engine hours or run time hours for each piece of equipment, allowing for visibility and proactive preventative maintenance practices. You don’t get paid if you’re not working. Again it’s all about efficiency helping the bottom line. Additionally, these solutions enable revenue generation for construction rental equipment companies.

DG: Any last thoughts on what the future holds for us on this front?

RC: Telematics will be the next wave of data collection. By enabling both fleet vehicles and equipment assets with telematics, construction customers have complete visibility into their assets in the field at any time, and can automate job dispatch and paperwork in the field -- saving time and money.

Duane Gabor is a technology enthusiast at heart, with a passion for understanding and creating solutions to improve people’s productivity, process, and systems. After graduating with a degree in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia, he joined Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and worked with some of the world’s most innovative companies on their technology strategies. He joined QuickBase in 2014 to help grow the QuickBase ISV partner network and is constantly on the lookout for new and exciting technologies.

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