Once you’ve made the decision to modernize your construction business with IoT and location-based services (LBS) technology, you’re already halfway to a safer, more efficient operation. But before you can get all the way there, you have to pick a specific solution – and here are a few features that you should be looking for.
It can be tough to choose from the various options on the market. In the past several years, investors have put $10 billion into construction technology, and there is no shortage of companies hoping to cash in – so be sure that you’re dealing with a legitimate company that’s been around for a while, and knows both their business and how it can benefit you.
Here are some questions you can ask to find out if an IoT or location-based solution is right for your construction company.
How Exactly Do the Theft-Prevention Features Work?
Location tracking helps prevent heavy equipment theft — for construction companies, this is one of the most direct, common sense benefits of working with an IoT or location-based services provider.
But when it comes to location tracking, there are several kinds of technologies you need to know about, from simple radio signal transmitters (RFID)to 4G/LTE-connected devices that update in real-time. Both RFID and cellularly connected devices have their benefits, so examine your needs and ask the following questions:
How often do device locations update? Every hour? Every minute?
Do the tracking devices require a battery? How long is the battery life under various operating conditions and device configurations?
Does the system come with geofencing capabilities? In other words, will the system automatically alert authorities when a machine enters or leaves a worksite or other defined area?
In the event of a theft, you don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised by a lack of protection.
Does the System Preserve and Report Data?
It’s important that an LBS platform preserves historical data, because that data can allow managers to see exactly what equipment was where and at what time. Other information can potentially be recorded, too, such as whether drivers were engaging in unsafe behaviors like speeding and hard cornering or whether equipment on site has excessive idle times.
Indeed, preserving historical data is of course the first necessary step in reporting on that data, and on turning it into information that’s actually useful. For example, fuel is very often a leading part of the TCO of heavy equipment ownership – being able to look at excessive idle time reports for your heavy equipment can help to identify issues and quickly lower costs.
Does the Software Come with an API?
An IoT solution essentially connects hardware with software — the hardware collects the information and the software helps you analyze it.
Examples of what you may see when you access IoT software include real-time location of heavy machinery, employee scorecards, and the status of materials. But what if you want more?
Client-friendly IoT providers offer an application programming interface (API). An API allows outside programmers to extend the capabilities of a solution or platform for their needs. For example, say a construction firm wants to build a custom inventory management solution incorporating RFID tags. If its LBS solution has an API, they can hire a programmer to do just that.
IoT and LBS platforms make APIs available so that individual clients can meet specific needs. Thus, an API is more than just practical — it’s a sign that your LBS provider cares about your individual needs.
The Bottom Line
For construction companies seeking to digitize operations, the options can be overwhelming – 3D printing, 5D modeling, digital mapping -- which technological advances are worth the time and money it takes to implement them?
In many ways, LBS is the most accessible way for construction companies to modernize. It doesn’t require transformation; instead, it facilitates improvement, reduces costs, and increases efficiencies. Simply installing tracking devices on heavy machinery has an immediate positive effect — theft prevention — in addition to long-term productivity gains from data-driven workflow adjustments.
At the same time, these benefits depend on the quality of the solution: A faulty tracking device won’t prevent theft, and a hard-to-use software platform won’t yield business insights.
Fortunately, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way – so a construction company that’s looking to modernize should work with a provider to find the solution that addresses their specific needs.
Position Logic has years of experience providing LBS technologies to construction companies big and small. Schedule a call to discuss how our tailor-made location-based solutions can help your business.