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As construction costs rise and schedules shrink, construction companies need to optimize operations in order to get jobs done on schedule and on budget, as well as to preserve profit margins. Tracking heavy equipment through telematics is critical to managing operations and improving equipment utilization. But excavators and boom lifts aren’t the only assets worth tracking.

Adding proximity sensors to portable assets can save time and increase efficiency. 

Here are four ways proximity sensor tags help project managers, superintendents and construction crews work more effectively and reduce job costs. 

1. Finding assets fast

A pervasive problem in construction is time lost as a result of construction crews sitting around waiting for something (equipment or tools) or someone (supers, coworkers). If a critical asset, particularly a specialized piece of equipment, goes missing, work stops until it’s located. Especially on a large jobsite, that can take time.

Hours lost add up to days lost. In a $20 million, year-long project, each day of delay costs more than $50,000. That’s a big hit.

There’s no way to attach a telematics unit to a theodolite, concrete mixer or plate compactor, but it’s easy enough to affix an inexpensive, Bluetooth-enabled smart tag to the asset. Pair the tag with a compatible telematics unit installed in a vehicle on site, and voila: Assets can be found in an instant. Tags can also be affixed to pallets of materials to streamline materials management. 

If the asset or pallet goes out of range of the associated vehicle, operators and managers can be alerted immediately. 

Each compatible CalAmp telematics device can be paired with a multitude of tags, making it possible to track just about every tool and asset on the jobsite, including high-value equipment as well as lower-value items such as stepladders that tend to go missing often.

2. Keeping attachments where they belong

Attachments make your heavy equipment work harder for you by increasing the versatility of the machines. The right attachment can even save you from having to purchase or rent a second piece of equipment. For example, by attaching an asphalt planer to a skid steer, you can potentially avoid the cost of a breaker. But if attachments go missing, they do you no good (and, attachments themselves can run $10,000 or even $20,000). Affixing tags to attachments and associating them with the heavy equipment is an easy way to keep an eye on them. 

Using a loader? You could tag the auger, breaker, sweeper and trencher that should stay with it. If the loader leaves the jobsite without an attachment, the system will send an alert to an operator or manager so it can be retrieved. 

A smart tag that ensures a breaker stays with the loader costs far less than a project delay. 

3. Reducing theft

Jobsite thefts cost the construction industry up to $1 billion a year. Whether because of sticky fingers or disorganized crews, tools have a way of walking off. Tagging an asset lets you know when and where it was separated from the vehicle it was paired with through the compatible telematics device. That crucial information can aid in recovery. What’s more, would-be thieves may be deterred by the obvious presence of a tracking tag. 

On the other hand, if tools or other assets go missing more frequently than expected on a particular jobsite or with a particular crew, an owner can place tags discreetly, out of sight of operators, to gain insight into any disappearances. Even small losses eat into the budget.

4. Improving asset utilization

For many contractors, equipment represents about 20% of costs. So when it comes to preserving construction profit margins, one edict prevails: Don’t buy or rent a new piece of equipment when you already have one that’s underutilized.

Tags can be used to reveal the location of all equipment associated with a telematics device across jobsites. If one project is short a cement mixer, a manager can see whether one is sitting on a truck at another jobsite. If a certain tagged asset hasn’t moved in several days, that’s a sign it could potentially be utilized elsewhere. It may also be at risk for theft if not properly stored. Keeping expensive assets in use as much as possible and out of vulnerability to theft not only reduces the need for duplicates but minimizes potentially major financial losses. 

In today’s environment, construction profits aren’t a given. Companies need to get everything right in order to succeed. Combining proximity sensor tags with a telematics solution improves the coordination of assets and helps ensure you have the right vehicles, equipment, tools and materials at the right place and the right time. Perfecting that complex dance leads to better project performance, lower costs and ultimately, a healthier bottom line.

Learn More About CalAmp iOn™ Tag

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