Telematics Isn’t Just a Productivity Tool for Equipment Owners. It’s a Safeguard.
By Brad Stemper
Much of the focus on telematics and construction equipment relates to productivity and operational factors such as excessive idling. These are often the easiest and most quantifiable ways to justify a telematics program. There is, however, another primary benefit of telematics, and that is the ability to simply identify location. That location can tell us many things about a piece of equipment, but where it helps in terms of equipment security is identifying if a piece of equipment is moving when it shouldn’t be, and where to find it if it has been stolen. Telematics can be your best friend when it comes to identifying unauthorized use and recovering equipment — saving your company significant time, money and heartache in the process.
Your Built-In Security Force
Whether an OEM or third-party solution, telematics offers a number of ways to ensure machine security. One way is through geofencing. A geofence is a virtual perimeter placed around a jobsite or yard within the telematics system. If a machine moves outside of that perimeter, an alert can be sent to employees (typically a foreman/fleet manager, etc.) to notify them of the unauthorized use. This alert then lets recipients know that they either need to investigate what’s going on with that machine or to contact the authorities if they believe it is being stolen. Geofences can also be established around forbidden zones where equipment is not allowed to enter and alert recipients if a machine crosses that line.
Depending on system setup, the engine does not need to be running for this technology to work. For instance, if a backhoe is sitting on a trailer and a thief backs up to it, hooks up and drives off, that backhoe can still send an alert when it passes the geofence. Its location can also be tracked for the sake of locating and recovering the asset. Similar to a geofence, alerts related to motion detection or “after curfew” use can be set up to alert the owner to unauthorized use.
It’s important to note: Should a piece of equipment go missing, and you’re able to find it on your telematics program, call the police and alert them to its location. Contractors should not go hunting for their stolen equipment themselves.
The Benefits of Foiling Unauthorized Use and Theft
There are obvious benefits to preventing theft and recovering equipment in a timely manner. That stolen piece of equipment will affect your productivity by leaving you shorthanded and may require you to go out and rent a replacement. Replacement costs for a stolen piece of equipment are expensive (even if covered by insurance), and the time and effort that goes into filling out all the paperwork, dealing with the authorities and acquiring the new piece of machinery is all time that you’re not spending working. And even though that machine may be covered by insurance, instances of theft can raise your insurance premiums.
Sometimes, when a piece of equipment leaves the yard, it may not be stolen. Employees have been known to grab equipment for work on the weekend without informing their employers. While seemingly innocent, that piece of equipment being hauled down the road by an employee during off hours may open your company up to liability if an accident or other event occurs. This also adds hours to the machine’s engine and burns expensive fuel which the employee may or may not replace. Telematics helps identify these instances and allows the company to then address the unauthorized use with the employee and correct the behavior.
All things considered, the equipment security case for a telematics program alone can justify the ROI. Unfortunately, it’s a factor many won’t consider until after a piece of equipment goes missing. Be proactive and outfit your fleet with telematics solutions now, and realize that added peace of mind while also experiencing the cornerstone productivity and efficiency benefits these technologies offer.
Brad Stemper is the solutions marketing manager for Case Construction Equipment, based in Racine, Wis.