Imagine this: You’re wrapping up the day on the construction site. The crew is heading home. The tools are put away. The major equipment is safely parked. You lock the site up and head on home.
The next morning you arrive back at the site… and the new loader is nowhere to be found.
That scenario may seem unlikely. A major piece of machinery couldn’t just disappear into thin air.
Well, you’re right… and wrong.
You see, construction sites are easy—and lucrative—prey for thieves. They’re often unguarded after hours, or at most blocked by an easily scaled fence or a simple padlock. Construction machinery isn’t registered through a national database as road vehicles are, making it harder to track down and easier to sell without being caught.
In fact, The National Equipment Registrar (NER) estimates that between $300 million and $1 billion worth of construction equipment is stolen each year, and that number doesn’t even include smaller tools and building materials.
Stolen property isn’t the only costly issue facing construction companies. There are also issues of property damage, bottlenecks in productivity, and expensive maintenance issues.
But with today’s technology, most of these situations can largely be circumvented.
Remote monitoring, in particular, is an incredibly useful preventative tool to improve project efficiency, decrease disastrous and expensive onsite issues, and improve the bottom line across the board.
If you’re not familiar with it, remote monitoring is exactly what it sounds like: a cellular or WiFi-enabled camera system that allows you to oversee and manage a jobsite from anywhere using a cloud-based management platform. There’s a wide swath of different technologies that can be implemented to assist with this; it really depends on the needs of a particular job site.
Some tools include, but are not limited to:
- Auditory intercom systems
- Alarm systems
- Field reporting apps
- GPS tracking systems
- Data analysis software
You might be looking at that list and thinking, ‘That sounds expensive.’ But the truth is, while these systems include upfront costs and may include monthly fees, the costs pale in comparison to how much they could save you in the long run.
Here are just a few of the ways remote monitoring could save you some serious money:
1. Theft prevention
As mentioned above, theft is a major issue for construction sites in the United States.
Loaders are the most common piece of equipment stolen at 36%, according to a study conducted by the LoJack Corporation. And the estimated replacement costs for equipment in 2016 for recovered equipment was nearly $11 million. Bear in mind—that’s for equipment that was recovered by the LoJack system. Less than 25% of stolen construction equipment is ever recovered, adding significantly to that total cost.
Of course, most companies have insurance in place that covers at least part of the value of stolen equipment. But replacement cost for these items only represents a portion of the total cost. Other costs include:
- Downtime and loss in productivity, resulting in costly delays and potential client penalty fees if deadlines are missed
- Renting substitute equipment until your insurance policy kicks in to cover the cost of replacing it
- Time lost on police reports and insurance claims—after all, time is money
- Higher insurance rates down the road
Lost equipment is equipment that isn’t working for you.
All of this could be avoided by utilizing a few key tools. First, by placing GPS systems on all your major pieces of machinery, you could much more easily track down stolen equipment. You could also install onsite security cameras, which could connect to remote devices so you could see and record all comings and goings on the job site.
But the real cost savings would be in theft deterrence. That could be accomplished simply with a remote alarm system, which could alert police if someone were to break onto the site after-hours.
2. Employee and jobsite safety
Onsite cameras are a two-birds-one-stone solution. In addition to deterring theft, security cameras can also help prevent workplace injuries and improve overall safety conditions.
It’s no secret that construction sites often present hazardous working conditions. While the industry accounts for only 4% of employment in the U.S., it accounts for a staggering 21% of all fatal work injuries. Meanwhile, nonfatal injuries in the construction sector top over 70,000. Perhaps most shocking, nearly every construction worker will suffer at least one work-related industry.
Over a 45-year career, 75% of construction workers would suffer a disabling injury, and one in 200 would suffer a fatal injury.
Onsite injuries are no laughing matter, and protecting your employees should be of paramount importance. Anything that can be done to improve working conditions on the jobsite should be priority one.
But, aside from the obvious fact that you don’t want your team members seriously injured, these types of events can also be costly to a project. Not only do they cause a loss in productivity, but there are also the issues of worker’s compensation or even possibly expensive lawsuits to consider.
Onsite cameras and intercom systems provide simple ways to combat workplace dangers. First, employees are likely to take greater precautions under surveillance, and intercom systems would allow you to communicate with them in real time if you noticed a safety issue. But secondly, you’re more likely to become aware of workplace hazards that have the potential to cause catastrophic injury and correct those problems before such incidents occur.
On that note, early detection and correction of these hazards will help you protect your jobsite in general—for instance, if a site catches fire, surveillance cameras would allow the fire to be caught early before major damage was done.
3. On-site maintenance proactivity
One of the greatest advancements in technology in recent years has been the Internet of Things (IOT)—the technology that allows for such innovations as the smart home, and even the smart city.
Essentially, in these systems sensors are connected to any number of devices, which then gather data and send it to the cloud to be stored and analyzed. These are sensors that measure any number of things, including everything from temperature, to air quality, to worker time on site and more. The applications of such technology are innumerable across the board—and jobsites are no exception.
In the construction industry, this technology is largely rooted in telemetry, a system of sensors that has the ability to remotely track everything from electricity consumption to HVAC efficiency.
Such systems can detect maintenance issues early before they cause serious issues. They can determine if the building’s energy system is operating at maximum efficiency. They can reduce time offline. And they can compare data to better predict issues before they even arise.
All such capabilities are directly correlated to enormous cost savings, in everything from maintenance and repair costs to the cost of labor.
4. Competitive advantage
Consumers are always looking for the most possible bang for their buck. They want companies on the cutting edge of technology, companies that can offer the most cost efficiency, the fastest turnaround, the lowest likelihood of issues arising.
Remote monitoring offers all of those things and more. To implement such technology puts you on the cutting edge.
And let’s face it—in today’s market, if you’re not staying ahead, then you’re falling behind.