As the world continues to adjust to post-pandemic realities, technology continues to change the way people work. For construction equipment fleet managers, the trends in technology that have created an entire work-from-home sector in other industries might seem irrelevant. However, they are powering a new generation of fleet management tools and best practices. Here are three technology trends that are driving improved fleet management:
While working from home is not something that’s possible in most parts of the construction industry, the pandemic and the overall trend toward remote work is driving an expectation that important business data is available wherever and whenever it is needed. In industries like publishing, marketing and law, cloud-based services and data storage were already in place to enable the shift to remote work even before the pandemic.
“Remote work has surged since the pandemic as many employees were given the option for the first time to do their work away from the office,” said Shannon Owens, Product Owner, Insurance and Predictive Analytics at EquipmentShare.
Construction equipment routinely generates a large quantity of data - diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs), telematics data and service records are just a few types. But the move toward making this data available outside of the service bay or machine cab is only recently gaining momentum. Platforms that enable machines and the people who service them to digitize information in a single place for performance analysis are gaining momentum. For example, EquipmentShare’s T3 platform allows fleet managers to review service histories, see real-time telematics data and identify future equipment issues from any location with an internet connection. For larger contractors, this means a centrally-located fleet manager can see important information about machines on any jobsite.
“T3 provides the right data to enable remote fleet management providing flexibility to work from anywhere,” said Owens.
The availability of business data from anywhere is driving another trend - the re-examination of workflows and business processes. Industries that were required to make the switch to a work-from-home model during the pandemic are now examining the sustainability of hybrid workplaces and decentralization. Key to this examination is figuring out how to maintain – or even improve – employee productivity and output.
Contractors are becoming more interested in process analysis, as well.
“With ongoing supply chain issues we see a scarcity of equipment, tools, parts and labor, “ said Angela Page, Director of Product for EquipmentShare, “which makes it vital to use the resources available as efficiently as possible through tools like T3."
As a result, it is important to know how fleet management can become more effective. What is the average time equipment is down for scheduled maintenance? Who are the most effective service technicians? How much fuel is wasted when equipment is left to idle? The availability of telematics and service data can assist fleet managers in answering these questions.
Technology is also powering improvements in fleet deployment across multiple jobsites. The exact location and status of equipment can be difficult to ascertain without comprehensive data. Platforms like T3 allow fleet managers to see which of their assets is available, and to be internally linked to specific jobsites and projects. This process improvement allows contractors to better match equipment costs to project budgets and income, and gain insights into the profitability of each machine in their fleet.
Big data and better processes are ultimately useless without a reliable and well-trained workforce. The shift to more remote work has created an opportunity for top performers to compete for more jobs than ever before, since in many cases, they would not have to relocate in order to accept a better offer remotely. For the technology-powered contractor, this also creates an opportunity to identify and retain top performers by looking at their actual performance compared to their peers. In T3, a fleet manager can identify which of their service technicians is the most productive, allowing them to proactively take steps to retain them. Contractors can also identify technicians with training needs and performance deficiencies, and assist those employees with improving their output. The net result is an equipment fleet that is deployed and serviced more effectively, which drives profits and encourages employee loyalty.
Another place in which having the right people is vital — on the highway. Commercial drivers already record and transmit data daily through their electronic logging devices (ELDs). However, with the safety of drivers and the general public being a primary goal, traditional ELDs are not up to the task of providing truly comprehensive data to fleet managers.
“You need to know if your ‘safest driver’ is really your safest driver,” said Kris Dunn, Senior Director of T3 Sales. “We want to protect assets, of course, but we really want to protect people - drivers and the general public.”
Smart devices such as two-way dash cameras are able to capture and transmit information such as speed, sudden braking and swerving, real-time location and more. EquipmentShare offers a T3-powered dash camera that can be configured to detect cell phone usage and distracted driving –- and send an alert to a manager or dispatcher. Retaining drivers who demonstrate safe practices is critical to successfully managing an over-the-road fleet.
“Using T3, a company can build training and rewards programs for safe driving practices,” said Dunn. “We think this technology can protect businesses and save lives.”