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How well you manage the equipment you use on a project—and your fleet in general—can make the difference between a large profit and a small one, or even no profit at all. Many contractors overspend by keeping rented equipment longer than needed, underutilizing equipment they own or rent, maintaining equipment before maintenance is needed or not maintaining it in time.

One solution is telematics, which you can use to track equipment and increase its utilization, properly maintain assets and make smarter purchasing and rental decisions. Telematics-enabled equipment provides remote monitoring of machines and vehicles, collecting and sending data on usage, performance and maintenance needs—telling you everything you want to know about your equipment, including location, number of operating hours, operator behavior and amount of fuel consumed. When filtered through equipment management software, this data can help you manage owned and rental fleet such as excavators, loaders, aerial work platforms and more.

With that in mind, here are five ways you can leverage telematics data to operate more safely and productively:

1. Enhance equipment visibility. Equipment has a way of sometimes hiding, especially on large jobsites. A track loader may be parked in the wrong place, or someone could be “holding” a scissor lift in case it’s needed again. Jobsite work can stop when crews need to search for vital equipment that is missing.

Telematics systems equipped with GPS tracking can be integrated with equipment management software to locate machines on a map in real time. This visibility can stop time-consuming hunts for equipment and help you right-size fleets. If a worksite has an excavator that isn’t in use, for example, you probably don’t need to buy or rent another one.

2. Decrease equipment theft and “borrowing.” When equipment remains on an empty jobsite at night or on a weekend, it can be vulnerable to thieves or tempt crew members to make unauthorized use of it. GPS tracking and geofencing can prevent these situations; use fleet management software to improve security by drawing a geofence around a jobsite or a specific area for the machine, then set an alert to you if it exits that virtual boundary. Alerts also can define work hours, so you’re notified in real time if the machine is moved or the ignition is started outside those hours.

3. Improve utilization. Rental equipment often makes up a significant project expense. By identifying utilization of each unit, telematics helps you manage the fine line between renting too little equipment and renting too much.

Telematics devices provide a wide range of useful engine data, including engine hours. By running a utilization report in a fleet management app, you can quickly see how many hours the machine was used in the past day, several days, week or month—helping you understand how much equipment you need for jobs and guiding purchase and rental decisions. It can even increase revenue by enabling you to make more accurate bids in the future.

4. Benchmark performance against industry peers. Scoring equipment utilization against industry benchmarks can help you identify areas to enhance efficiency and calculate potential financial gain. Equipment rental suppliers should be able to provide you with data about how their equipment is utilized by market segment, job type and equipment specification.

Benchmarking provides an avenue for you to rank every piece of rental equipment across projects and jobsites—gauging utilization and days past due against industry norms. It can identify where equipment utilization practices fall among best-in-class, industry average and room-for-improvement performance metrics.

5. Advance preventive maintenance efficiencies. Operators and managers can use telematics data about equipment and vehicles to determine when maintenance tasks are needed rather than scheduling maintenance based on miles or time driven. This just-in-time maintenance means you’re not over- or under-scheduling shop time. Data-based maintenance can also help fleet managers better forecast maintenance budgets and allow your equipment maintenance service provider to provide a proactive, automated program of preventive maintenance and inspections customized to your specific needs.

Telematics data is an essential ingredient for an effective fleet strategy. By providing you with the visibility you need about the location and utilization of equipment, telematics-based fleet tracking combined with equipment management software can make jobsites more productive, cut project costs and increase the bottom line. 

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