Guest Post by Patrick Hogan, CEO, Handle.com
Managing a fleet as part of construction operations can be a challenge for construction project managers, especially in an already fast-paced environment. Construction vehicles are an important part of construction processes, so it is important that they are in good working condition to get the job done. The schedule of their arrivals and departures also needs to fit well within the schedule of activities on the construction site.
A construction fleet varies depending on the needs of a particular construction job, requiring the use of heavy machinery such as cranes, mixers, and compactors, as well as vehicles for transporting material supplies and waste such as trailer trucks, flatbeds, and concrete tankers. Each of these vehicles requires tracking, maintenance, and supervision to ensure a smooth construction operation.
Implementing an effective fleet management system provides huge benefits to a construction firm, including reduction of expenses, boosting of efficiency and productivity, ensuring government compliance, and safety improvement. Here are some of the ways fleet management can help your construction business.
1. Track your construction operations fleet in real-time
When managing multiple construction projects across several locations, one of the biggest aspects of operations that fleet managers need to take note of is visibility. You need to track where each vehicle is located, including those that are currently on the road as well as those in use on a construction site in order to schedule deliveries and manage arrival and departure times.
Fleet tracking systems utilize a GPS tracker that lets you know the current location of all vehicles in your fleet on a single map interface in real-time. Is a trailer truck containing material supplies late? Looking for the crane that you need to transport to a new construction site? With a GPS tracker, you can determine their exact location with just one touch of a button. Advanced tracking systems are also able to generate specialized reports, including those relating to speed, engine hours, and start and stop times that are useful for your logistics planning.
2. Plan and optimize delivery routes
Part of overall construction operations is management of client expectations—when to expect deliveries, when milestones are achieved, and when a project will be finished. Consistency is the key to repeat business. In an industry with plenty of variables that can cause delays, having a well-detailed schedule and sticking to it translates to a project that is delivered on time.
With a fleet tracking system, you can use GPS data to plan the routes of your construction vehicles and optimize their schedules to fit the needs of your clients. Efficient route designs also have the added benefit of lower fuel costs so you can make the most out of your resources.
3. Control the timing of fleet dispatch
Timing is everything when it comes to the construction site. Since not all construction sites have enough space to accommodate concrete mixers, cranes, and material supply trucks, it is important to coordinate the timing of arrivals and departures to and from the construction site. Investing in a fleet management system can help project managers calculate the right timing and decide when to dispatch particular construction vehicles. With a real-time tracking system, you will be able to calculate ETAs more accurately.
4. Recover stolen vehicles easily
Equipment and vehicle theft is one of the major concerns of construction business owners. While it is hard to gather concrete figures, the National Equipment Register estimates the value of stolen equipment to be between $300 million to $1 billion. Unfortunately, the latest data showed that only 21% of stolen equipment was recovered.
The cost of stolen equipment extends beyond just its replacement value. The failure to deliver jobs on time and the lost business opportunities are huge costs that are not easily recovered. That is why it is crucial that a fleet tracking system is in place to make tracking stolen assets easier. Knowing a vehicle’s exact GPS coordinates in real-time provides law enforcement with a solid lead to track the thieves and recover the equipment. You can even set up your fleet tracking system to sound the alarm in case it is driven off a job site or veers away from the designated route.
5. Optimize fuel consumption
Another huge consideration when managing a construction fleet is its fuel consumption. Having a fleet management system ensures that your construction fleet is using fuel as efficiently as possible. As previously mentioned, a GPS tracking system allows you to optimize routes to maximize fuel efficiency. You can also set up alerts for unnecessary idling, aggressive driving, and hard braking, all of which contribute to wasted fuel. If you invest in a tracking system with specialized reports, you can use the fuel consumption data between drivers and vehicles and identify areas for improvement.
6. Avoid invoicing disputes
Payment issues are common in the construction industry. As construction projects increase in size with several stakeholders, the flow of payment through the hierarchy and the sheer size of a project can sometimes result in payment delays and invoicing disputes. If not monitored properly, a payment dispute can balloon into an even bigger expense.
There are several tools in a construction owner’s arsenal that aid in combating payment issues, such as meeting deadlines and requirements of filing a mechanics lien. Effective fleet management is another great tool to add in protecting your payments. Data on the hours a piece of equipment is in use or en route to a specific location is a good thing to have in case a client disputes the hours you bill. If the client claims that you are overbilling them, you can simply give them your tracking reports and show that the time is consistent with what you included in your invoice.
A fleet management system empowers construction business owners and managers to maintain efficient business operations. While a construction business is not primarily a fleet-based operation, fleet management solutions can vastly improve your ability to deliver a project on time.
About the Author
Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle.com, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers with late payments. Handle.com also provides funding for construction businesses in the form of invoice factoring, material supply trade credit, and mechanics lien purchasing.