Construction Machinery Tracking and Monitoring
Machinery, which are a set of big value assets, represents a large operational cost and sustainability impact to any construction project. Tracking large machines enables the analysis of movements to reduce idle times and unnecessary trips, greatly reducing fuel consumption and pollution. Other operating parameters, such as engine RPM, speed or internal temperatures are also valuable to identify machinery usage patterns and improve predictive maintenance, avoiding unexpected stops and reducing overall costs.
In large construction sites there might be tens to hundreds of small machinery items scattered and loosely supervised. Knowing the exact whereabouts and operating status of each one is a challenge for managers. As an example, sending a night crew to the site work when an expected power generator is actually missing, it is an avoidable cost and waste of resources.
Supervisors should also be able to know the status of their equipment in real-time. For instance, knowing if a water pump is actually on, may be critical to ensure the area is draining as planned. The inventory also needs to be geofenced not only to advert in case of robbery but also to detect when machinery is placed in a wrong or dangerous area.
In addition, small machinery needs to be serviced periodically or based on working hours, from simple refueling to programmed maintenance. Refueling rounds cannot be effective if the precise location of the machine is not known and unnecessary refueling occurs when operating hours are not computed.
Figure 1, Construction site full of scattered machinery, courtesy Troy Mortier.
Top construction companies around the world are already monitoring their machinery to increase operational efficiencies. The sensors and communication devices do not require physical modifications to the machinery so they are valid for rental equipment:
- Fuel gauges for small machines without any electronics.
- Can bus connector or data sniffer to extract data from machinery with or without available ports.
- 4G J1939 gateway.
- GPS tracker.
- LoRaWAN (Long Range – Low Power) tracker (for small machinery)
Tailored:systems offers a full range of solutions to monitor the status and critical parameters of machinery. To process the stream of data received, we proposed the platform IoTailor, a complete tool where the user can easily produce dashboards, including historic, real-time and projected values.
Complete digitalization of the construction site.
Construction sites are highly changing environments, where it is key to keep control of all variables to maintain order and repeatability, allowing scale economies to emerge. Controlling machinery is one of the main challenges that it is now easier thanks to IoT and Big Data technologies:
- GIS view enables operators to know the precise location and operating status of all the machinery and receive on-screen alerts, when unexpected status changes occur or when geofencing is being trespassed.
- Machinery GPS coordinates get recorded so real-time and historic routes can be analyzed, including speed limit compliance. Fuel leaks or robbery can be detected and alerted automatically.
- Machinery movement can be planned ahead, and alerts will be generated if the machine is not relocated in time or not to the correct position.
- Incurred fuel costs can be accurately monitored, and projected costs can be planned by specifying desired running time for each machine.
- Machinery can be grouped and statistics for each group or induvial machines reported for any period of time or projected. Actual fuel consumption can be benchmarked against planned and projections can be analyzed.
In summary, construction operations can now be streamlined thanks to proper data gathering, analysis and forecasting. Tens or hundreds of pieces of equipment can be easily tracked and managed. Real-time operational status can be known, and historic information is readily available. Fuel costs can be tracked and planned with precision. Machine operation and maintenance can be optimized to reduce costs and be programmed according to the construction plan.