May 4, 2019

Moving Toward Connected Jobsites

connected jobsite

Envision the ideal jobsite, running smoothly and safely. No equipment breakdowns, no miscommunication about the project’s next steps and a team of adept, engaged employees keeping it all in motion.

It’s not some unattainable construction utopia. It’s the (nearer-than-you-thought) future of the industry, and it’s possible on a connected jobsite. Thanks to record-high investment in construction technology in 2018, there are more options than ever for connecting every part of your projects.

What’s a connected jobsite?

Communication is arguably the most important part of ensuring that projects run smoothly. And it’s also one of the hardest things to do well on the jobsite, for several reasons. It’s loud, it’s busy, and most everyone is working from directions they were given at the beginning of the day, or even the week. Work has to stop completely before changes can be communicated to everyone onsite, slowing down the whole process.

Connected sites operate with the help of technology solutions and link every piece of equipment and person together. A connected jobsite eliminates the communication hiccups that lead to scheduling delays, accidents and other avoidable situations. Digital links between every moving part of the jobsite make communication instantaneous and accurate and keeps work going.

Building connections

It can feel overwhelming when it comes to creating a connected jobsite. Where do you start? First, identify why productivity stalls, where your team hits roadblocks or at which point communication crumbles.

Are foremen spending hours locating machinery across various jobsites? Do skilled employees take hours to perform simple, labor-intensive tasks when they could be completing more complicated work? Does it take days to distribute updated documentation?

Let’s say your biggest waste of time is hunting down machines and moving them back to the correct jobsite. You’re not sure who might have moved it, and you don’t have the time to find out — you need to get back to work. You can solve this problem by connecting your machines, a significant first step toward a completely connected jobsite.

With an IoT-connected platform like Track Telematics, your team can access data that helps you put a stop to machines moving without your knowledge. You’ll have access to the real-time location of every piece of equipment linked to your Track account, from the biggest excavator to the smallest hand tool on any jobsite. And you can give certified operators a unique access code to block anyone else from climbing in the cab and starting up your equipment. Set geofences around your jobsites for extra security, and get an alert if equipment moves outside of its geofence.

Linking your fleet with telematics is a small piece of the connected jobsite puzzle and only a fraction of how Track facilitates communication. Other features, such as digital work orders and driver scorecards, enable better jobsite management than you thought possible and contribute to the connected environment.

Fleet management telematics may not be the best place to start with your team — it just depends where your biggest obstacles lie. When you know what those are, you can start exploring tech solutions to solve them. And when you tackle major problems with connectivity, the small problems tend to solve themselves. That’s the power of a connected jobsite.

Connectivity pays in more ways than one

Construction technology solutions collect data that matters and present it to you in a useful way. This helps you make better decisions as you work. For example, in Track, you can access in-depth reports and granular engine data at any time from an internet-connected phone, computer or tablet.

Access to that real-time, reliable machine data means instead of driving jobsite to jobsite searching for the mini wheeled skid steer, you just log in to Track and find it on the map. And before you pick it up, you’ll know if it needs gas, who parked it and when, and if it’s due for an oil change or coolant refill. If you’ve got a few more minutes, you can even run a Trip Report and see every Trip that mini skid steer has taken since Track was installed on its engine.

That level of insight allows you to maximize usage of every Track-equipped asset in your fleet. And when you increase your asset utilization, you get the highest return possible on what might be your biggest business investment. Simultaneously, you gather valuable insights that help you make decisions based on facts — not estimations.

Connectivity can also play a key part in maintaining the safest jobsites possible. Safety wearables take the burden off of humans: Solutions like exoskeletons that relieve wear and tear on workers’ bodies and Bluetooth-equipped vests that alert machines when workers are close by will soon be the norm. Comprehensive solutions like these make it easier to follow safety regulations and effectively keep your employees injury-free on every project.

Employees will not only be safer than ever on a connected jobsite, but they may also stick around longer. All signs show that investing in new technology leads to better retention rates. Embracing innovation helps you hang on to top talent and draw in the young workers the industry has had difficulty retaining. In a business where the workforce is retiring faster than it can be replaced, you can appeal to the resourceful, tech-savvy employees you want to hire by incorporating elements of the connected jobsite.

Saving time, making data-backed decisions and improving safety all point to the same thing: an increased bottom line. The more work you can complete on schedule and without defects, the more work you can do, period.

Connected jobsites are the future

A long delay in industry-wide tech adoption means contractors can jump 40 years ahead in seconds, switching from pen-and-paper to using an app on their smartphone. That’s been a difficult hurdle to clear, and large parts of the industry still aren’t on board; a completely connected jobsite might seem to many like a nearly impossible jump.

There’s no denying that the industry needs to turn to new solutions to its persistent productivity problems. Record-high investments in 2018 point to construction technology as the answer, and innovators are rising to the challenge.

In the future, the connected jobsite of the future is populated with robots and autonomous machines, not just phones and tablets. Autonomous machines will be able to adapt to changing conditions — like a compactor that stops if an obstacle crosses its path — while simultaneously relaying and interpreting engine and environmental data to you and your team, onsite and off.

Connectivity allows you to take back control of your construction projects and help your team operate at peak productivity. In the process, you’ll gain an understanding of how your jobsites operate in more detail than you thought possible.

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