On: 01/11/2011 13:35 In: Experts Corner
As businesses throughout the demolition industry look for evermore innovative ways to improve efficiencies and reduce costs, companies are increasingly considering vehicle tracking software to help alleviate the effects of difficult marketplace conditions. Here tracking specialist Chris McClellan from Remote Asset Management Tracking considers the opportunities that the technology has to offer UK contractors...
It is widely acknowledged that tracking software is a helpful vehicle management tool but uses of the technology extend much further and are not just limited to transport and haulage companies. The versatility of vehicle tracking ? which can be fitted to almost any vehicle and plant including excavators, dumper trucks and dozers ? means it can be a valuable system within the demolition industry too.
With contractors striving to tender for client projects at the most competitive price possible, workforce productivity is crucial to the profitability of the job and the fulfilment of often restrictive schedules. With many projects to run at any given time, it is imperative that demolition companies can manage their employees, the vans they travel to site in, and the kit that they operate throughout the day, as efficiently as possible.
Small commercial vehicles are often considered incidental to the demolition business, as contractors are understandably plant focused. However ensuring that employees arrive and leave sites on time is the first step to monitoring and maximising daily productivity. The intention is not to act as ?big brother?, but if tracking devices are fitted to such vehicles, company owners and managers can immediately assess if the daily workload is being impacted upon as a result of a lost man hours. As fuel prices continue to rise, trackers can also aid the planning of time, cost and energy-efficient routes for these vans and HGVs, which of course has added environmental benefits too. Productivity should not be to the detriment of health and safety though, so managers should also utilise the software to highlight if employees are working alone or are working too many hours on sites. Once employees are on site, managers tend to then rely on industry knowledge and experience to estimate how much work should be completed on a daily basis. However it is also possible to fit devices onto site-based machinery to monitor the productivity of the plant as well. This can be done without interfering with plant electronics, which protects warranty validity. When project schedules are strong, expensive kit may be required on different jobs throughout the country. Vehicle tracking technology therefore helps to show if plant is sitting idle so that it can be relocated to where it is needed most. Even if the ignition is switched on but the plant is not actively working, the location of a GPS antenna on the cab roof means it is possible to identify if site managers are simply trying to show that the machine is active so that it remains on-site. For machines such as 360⁰ excavators which may not travel when in use, the antenna can be fitted to the boom instead, to give a truer picture of the machine?s operational status.
By keeping this firm grasp on the scheduling of equipment it is possible to avoid the cost of hiring additional plant, without compromising project schedules as a result of downtime whilst waiting for plant to become available.
Tracking also helps to police another important concern within the demolition industry ? the theft of salvaged materials such as lead, copper or aluminium. The commodity value of these on-site metals alone can make a project commercially viable, therefore contractors must protect this stock. By setting the reclamation yard as a location on the tracking system?s map facility, companies can monitor any unauthorised vehicular visits. It is possible to search for details of vans that have attended the site, or the live system can alert management any time a vehicle arrives. A receipt will prove a legitimate visit but if the driver cannot produce one, further investigation may be necessary. If the theft of scrap can be prevented, this itself could offset 12 months? financial investment in the tracking technology.
With the knowledge that vehicle tracking provides, demolition companies are better placed than ever before to make strategic decisions about how best to manage their fleet, plant and staff.
Chris McClellan is managing director of Remote Asset Management Tracking.