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Equipment Tracking: Now is the Time to Fix This Blind Spot

For any construction business, the ability to safeguard key equipment and move it smoothly in the yard and seamlessly between worksites is key to profitable operations.

While a growing number of construction firms use real-time GPS tracking on their trucks and vehicles on the road, many still have not considered the benefits of using GPS tracking for securing their equipment and assets. Utilizing asset tracking technologies provides construction companies with real-time access to their most valuable equipment, and proves to benefit companies in many ways, including with one of the industry’s largest hurdles – theft.

From poor security, easy-to-open cabs and lack of product identification numbers, construction sites are hot targets for crime. According to the most recent data compiled by the National Equipment Register (NER) and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), nearly 12,000 construction-related thefts were reported during the last year. It’s also estimated that 90 percent of thefts occur at construction sites. This statistic is not surprising, considering sites are often left wide open to thieves on weekends and nights when workers have gone home for the day and no security personnel is guarding the site.

Equipment Theft – a big but avoidable problem

The NICB report shows that of the nearly 12,000 thefts reported only 23 percent of the stolen goods could be recovered. Several factors play a part in the low recovery rate of assets. A few of these include:

  • delayed theft discovery;
  • inaccurate or missing owner records;
  • minimal law and policy resources; and
  • complicated equipment identification formats.

Equipment theft costs between $300 million to $1 billion each year, but the true cost of theft is higher than the costs of replacing stolen equipment. Once the costs of downtime for the team and the cost of rental or replacement equipment is added, as well as potential increases in insurance premiums, the impact of theft becomes much higher.

Using Tech to Take Down Theft

With high pressures and tight deadlines, construction managers need real-time visibility of equipment at all times. It is quick and easy to deploy GPS asset tracking by equipping any type of asset (using various types of devices) and combining it with fleet tracking for added efficiencies.

What makes asset tracking so powerful is that it provides a full view of where all assets are at all times and gives managers the information they need to handle equipment theft. This allows managers to easily monitor and locate equipment in the yard and every work site and track where it’s going in real time. Although asset tracking delivers many benefits, the technology is especially helpful in deterring losses from theft by:

  • Keeping an eye on everything, even when deployed remotely. Whether there are several locations, multiple worksites or equipment on the road, the equipment can be seen on a map and it’s easy to see which workers moved it last.
  • Receiving real-time alerts when assets move unexpectedly. When assets start moving after hours, leave a worksite or stop for long durations while being transferred, an immediate alert is sent to the manager.
  • Improving recovery efforts. With real-time tracking, once an alert is received, a simple glance at the dashboard helps locate the asset for recovery attempts and notifying law enforcement.

Other Efficiencies and Benefits from Asset Tracking

Asset tracking delivers a number of other crucial benefits that will help boost efficiencies and profitability:

  • Improve movement of assets and service cycles. By tracking trucks and assets on the same dashboard, locations and delivery/pickup ETAs can be pinpointed and labor inefficiencies and wasted fuel eliminated.
  • Maximize revenue from deployed equipment and simplify billing. Detailed reports show when and where assets are deployed for customers. Toss the old-school pen and paper and frustrating spreadsheets away and let the power of automation and digital data logging lead the way.
  • Improve Asset Maintenance. All vehicles and assets are displayed on one dashboard to aid in dispatch and service operations.

What Needs to Be Tracked

When it comes to targets of theft, equipment and tools can be separated into three main categories – high-value items, small equipment and tools and attachments. The first category, high-value items, consists of excavators, pavers, cranes, extractors and other large equipment. The second includes light towers and sweepers. The final category, tools and attachments, are the most critical components to get a job done, and the category the majority of thieves target most.

The NCIB reports that two key factors, value and mobility, determine what types of equipment is stolen. The NCIB also reports that loaders and tractors were among the types of equipment frequently stolen. Aside from these two pieces of equipment, a few other examples of hot targets to be tracked as category one equipment and tools include generators, light banks, equipment trailers, Port-a-Potties and cranes. Companies that implement asset tracking typically start with category one and begin working their way down as they begin seeing cost savings.

Why Now?

Previously, high costs of real-time asset and fleet tracking solutions made this technology unattainable to most in the industry, but now construction firms are finding value-priced solutions that fit their business needs precisely. By selecting a real-time asset tracking solution that also integrates with a fleet tracking solution, contractors can streamline management and ensure visibility of everyone and everything deployed in the field. As the economy continues to drive construction projects, being able to control costs, prevent theft and downtime and achieve internal efficiencies will help every firm become more profitable.

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