5 questions you should be asking your plant machinery tracking provider
The UK economy has gone through a turbulent period due to COVID-19, but the construction sector has been one of the least impacted industries throughout.
The UK economy has gone through a turbulent period due to COVID-19, but the construction sector has been one of the least impacted industries throughout. However, it is facing another challenge, which has spiked during the pandemic – plant and machinery theft. The Chartered Institute of Building reports that in their study, 21% of respondents experience theft each week and 92% are affected weekly, monthly or annually. The same study suggests that 38% of respondents suffer a loss of at least £10,000 each year. In addition to the capital cost of loss and replacement, targeted businesses suffer the cost of reduced productivity and downtime, resulting in compromised earning and potential reputational damage.
In an effort to help prevent theft, the Metropolitan Police suggest securing property using CCTV, an immobiliser, alarms and machinery tracking. Plant and machinery tracking gives control over your assets using a GPS tracking device. It can alert businesses to instances of loss and theft and help recover them quickly and safely.
How ‘live’ is the solution?
Plant, machinery, and tool tracking solutions use GPS data, communicated via a connected GSM network to provide information about a tracked asset’s location. Depending on the service provider, location updates are either live or configured to refresh at given intervals. This is often dependent on the equipment to be tracked and the nature of the activities undertaken. For example, a small, mobile power tool may require frequent location updates, due to its ease of portability and risk of theft, compared to a large, conspicuous piece of plant equipment, which would be more difficult to move without authority.
ABAX plant tracking provides live positional updates every 60 seconds, providing peace of mind that the tracked property is always secure. Location alerts are sent every 4, 6, 12 or 24 hours, depending on the user’s preference.
For extra security against theft, you can also create virtual geofences and receive an SMS alert if any unit is tampered with or leaves an area, unauthorised.
It is important to ask your machinery tracking supplier how data is handled during instances of limited or lost connectivity.
Some service providers continue to log and store the data, and then transmit the stored information once connectivity has been re-established. If this is not the case, there can by “black holes” of missing information, which can cause issues in the case of theft or improper use.
Asking your tracking supplier about connectivity limitations is also imperative to understand the level of security your tools and equipment have. If the tracking device is a wired solution, and a thief cuts the wire, will this render the device disabled? If so, it may be worth asking about battery back-up options to provide an extra level of protection.
Are there hidden charges - such as installation costs?
Always check with your machinery tracking services provider about the installation process and any associated costs. Many service providers offer wireless and wired options, with the latter often requiring a trained engineer to install the tracking device. ABAX plant tracking devices are easy to install, robust and weatherproof, requiring only some VHB tape, a bracket, a magnetic jacket or a steel cage. You can fit yourself at your own convenience - keeping equipment or fleet downtime to a minimum.
There are many different payment and subscription models available in the tracking marketplace. You can purchase hardware upfront or split it over a given period and subscription to a tracking service is usually bundled into packages or paid separately over a contract duration. Ask your service provider which options are available and also check what costs will be applicable after the end of the initial contract period. This is often significantly reduced, as the hardware is often paid off by that time.
Are there other solutions available such as battery packs or Bluetooth devices to enhance the security of it?
There is a wide variety of tracking options available and, depending on the type of equipment you want to track, there are different questions you should ask your supplier.
For tool tracking, which requires a non-wired and lightweight solution, a Bluetooth tracking device may be suitable. The ABAX MINI2 can easily locate your tools, offers a waterproof and robust solution and long battery life. With the latest Bluetooth technology, ABAX’s new tracking device is ahead of iPhone and Android mobiles with BLe 5.2.
One of the benefits of this technology is its covert nature – small, lightweight and can be fitted in a hidden location. As a result, in the event of theft, the thief may not even realise a tracker is fitted.
Can it be used for more than just RISK?
Although one of the main benefits of a tracking solution to many businesses is security and theft prevention, the information available through the black box can assist with much more. Knowing where an asset is located, how long it’s been there and being notified in real time if it moves without permission can offer businesses huge operational efficiency gains.
For example, equipment hire businesses can using their plant tracking solution to accurately charge equipment users based on true usage, rather than assumptions. The tracking solution can also be used to positively affect insurance premiums. Many insurance providers will acknowledge the data and reports available to reduce risk and lower costs for the equipment owner.
If your machinery has power, an ABAX wired tracking system can monitor engine hours and help to eliminate downtime through predictive maintenance, reports and alerts. Plant and tool tracking devices are always on, and with a roaming SIM card you’ll be able to check your equipment’s position at any time of day. Plus, you’ll have a stronger chance of recovering any stolen assets, preventing costly replacements.
If it comes fitted with a device from factory, are they having to use multiple platforms to see their assets.
More and more equipment manufacturers are opening up their proprietary telematics systems to third party suppliers. For businesses, this can mean that additional tracking devices may not need to be fitted to access tracking information - streamlining your fleet of multi brands machinery and releasing the power of your connected OEM machines, all using a single login.
With ABAX Smart Connect you can add machines from a long list of OEMs, for easier planning of service and maintenance, detailed monitoring of location, improved utilisation and better planning of logistics.
The ability to have everything in one place reduces administration time, lowers the risk of missed alerts, and simplifies asset management.
There are many tracking suppliers available; each offering their own features and benefits. Connectivity, costs and technology used should all be considered. By asking some of these questions before you make a decision about which service provider to work with, you can better understand what’s right for your business.
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