Don’t Let Your Trucks BOG YOU DOWN
Integrated fleet management tools are not just for your yellow iron anymore, say technology solutions providers.
By Mike Anderson
Want to see a construction contractor cringe? Ask him about trucks.
Whether he owns a fleet of haulers himself or relies on somebody else to transport the materials required to put his more comforting yellow iron to work, he’s rarely at ease with the trucks he needs: “Do we have enough? Do we have too many? Do the drivers know what they’re doing? And where the heck are they anyway?”
Historically, such frustration may very well have been the norm throughout the industry, but a shift is happening among enterprising contractors and agencies, say leading suppliers of fleet management solutions we tracked down for a state-of-the-industry perspective.
“Several years ago, people were thinking about their yellow iron and their construction assets separately from their vehicles,” says Jason Koch, president of the Telogis Fleet Division, “but if you really think about it, it’s all one fleet. Now, companies that are purchasing systems want to see everything in the same system. You don’t want to have a completely segregated fleet. You’re looking at productivity across the board, so being able to roll up the data from a diverse fleet is really important.”
And, correspondingly, systems suppliers are increasingly able to provide those integrated fleet optimization and fleet management solutions. “Especially corporations that are nationwide, they really need to look at a company that can provide a full suite of products that has a platform capability,” says Sean McCormick, Telogis product manager for the Fleet-branded products. This capability, he explains, includes not just fleet management tools, but also features such as route optimization and back-office systems integration.
“Beyond that, companies also need to look at how they manage a large amount of data or information,” says McCormick. “There’s a lot of companies that provide individual reports, but who has the time – if they 5,000 or 6,000 assets – to look at hundreds of reports? What we think is important is the ability to present all of that data in a nice, summarized fashion, where you can focus on areas of concern.”
In the words of Brad Mathews, vice president of marketing with fellow industry supplier Dexter + Chaney: “You’ve had these different islands of information that were being stored up, but because they weren’t integrated, there’s not a cross-check.” Information was compiled in various forms in various places and, if a construction organization was fortunate, it would come together “in one smart guy’s head,” he says. “That can work up to a point if you’ve got a really competent, experienced, on-top-of-it equipment manager, but what happens if he leaves? What happens if he gets sick, or what happens when your company gets a little too big for that?” Even the addition of a second base can send a company’s asset management spiraling off course, says Mathews. “Do you want a piece of equipment lost somewhere between these two guys?”
With a system such as Dexter + Chaney’s Spectrum construction management software, “we can still have that equipment manager doing the work that he should be doing, and his intimate knowledge of the fleet is going to be a terrific advantage,” says Mathews, “but now we’re able to arm that person with a tool they can use that gives them easy access to that data and combines it in a way that they would not have before.”
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