The Connected Construction Fleet

Jeremy Gould, TomTom Telematics’ VP of Sales Europe, discusses how technological advances in vehicle telematics have opened up new workflow management possibilities for the construction industry.

WITH prevailing economic uncertainty and a weakening pound threatening to raise input prices, many businesses may begin reviewing their business strategies and cost bases in an effort to find ways to protect their bottom line.

Traditionally, telematics has been used to provide visibility into fleet vehicle and mobile workforce activity. Such technology’s basic tracking and tracing functionality can provide data on key areas such as time on site, job completion, and driving performance.

Recent advancements, however, driven by the introduction of open platform software, are assisting in raising standards in mobile workforce management to a whole new level.

Data from a variety of sources, such as mobile hardware, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and routing and scheduling software, can now be brought together on a single platform, allowing for automated, paperless processes.

As a result, construction industry operators can expect greater efficiency savings and more streamlined operations.

Importantly, this can be accomplished without the need for costly IT consulting or lengthy development projects.

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Workflow connectivity has been made possible.

Open platform telematics technology is assisting businesses in bridging the gap between mobile construction workers and their back offices.

Technically, this has been made possible by granting software developers unrestricted access to the platform via application programming interfaces (APIs).

As a result, ‘out of the box’ applications that allow construction companies to improve the functionality of their core systems are being developed.

For example, the telematics platform can be integrated with office software like routing and scheduling optimization, ERP, supply chain planning, and asset management.

Mobile hardware, such as lone worker alert devices, vehicle sensors, or printers, can wirelessly connect to the in-vehicle telematics device in the field. Mobile apps can even be uploaded to tablet-style driver terminals for use by mobile workers.

The spotlight is on M2M applications.

We recognise the importance of establishing best practise standards for operational safety and efficiency as an associate member of FORS – the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme.

Telematics and machine-to-machine (M2M) applications are critical enablers in assisting the industry in achieving this goal. The bar for workflow management and compliance process efficiency has been raised with increased control and visibility over mobile construction workers, as well as less reliance on paper for recording business intelligence.

Workers, for example, can perform vehicle checks at the start of each day or week using an app on their driver terminals, with the results being updated in the back office to ensure maintenance schedules are kept up to date.

Daily workflow will then be automatically loaded onto these devices, and drivers will be routed directly to their site destinations. Simultaneously, automated alerts informing customers of their arrival times can be sent via text or email.

Furthermore, with proof of delivery submitted via the app’s signature capture functionality, in-built camera, or near field communication (NFC) chip, job statuses can be updated in the back-office system. On-board weighing systems can be integrated with telematics software to send real-time weight data, as well as vehicle location and journey data, to back office software.

This means that customer invoices can be generated based on load weight as soon as materials are collected, without the need for vehicles to visit weighing bridges. This can help support the legal compliance processes associated with loaded trucks leaving construction sites or depots, in addition to increasing productivity.

Accurate ETA information based on real-time traffic and historic journey time data can be integrated with industry planning software for time-sensitive transportation of materials such as concrete.
Managers can be informed when the product is in transit and when it is being offloaded, which helps to ensure quality control for ready-mix concrete.

These sensors can transmit real-time data on the rotational direction of the drum to the telematics platform. There are numerous possibilities for smarter, connected workflow processes supported by the open telematics platform.

Construction firms will find new ways to meet the challenges posed by a changing market as innovative solutions continue to unlock efficiencies in ever-more revolutionary ways.

Last Updated on December 30, 2021

Indra-Gupta

Author: Indra Gupta

Indra is an in-house writer with a love of Newcastle United and all things sustainable.

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