For years, the construction industry has been considered one of the least technologically advanced industries in the UK. This view, often held by those outside of the industry, may be based on the stereotypical image of the muddied boots construction worker that the public are most likely to encounter. The truth is that the construction industry and construction plant sector in the UK are developing into a technologically advanced era with Industry 4.0 at the centre. One of the most utilised technologies emerging within this era is machinery telematics.
Telematics is the branch of information technology which deals with the long-distance transmission of information. Similarly, cloud computing refers to the practice of using a remote network of servers hosted on the internet to store, manage and process data. Given these areas rise in popularity within the construction industry, this issue of Plant Planet willexplore how they are being used and what the industry stands to gain.
Telematics provide the key to bringing together construction sites. Further, the technology can lower costs and improve efficiency, safety and accuracy. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), including key players such as Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE), Komatsu, and JCB, have been starting to fit telematics as standard in the past few years. This indicates that the use of telematics is of growing importance within the construction industry.
The benefits of telematics can be organised into three broad categories: machine efficiency, asset or fleet management, and job-site performance. Traditionally, uses for telematics systems have been focused on machine efficiency. Many systems have been put in place to provide owners with information such as fuel levels, maintenance needs and system warnings. These telematics systems are just as important now as ever. The way in which technology is utilised in plant machinery is evolving rapidly. Further, the systems will only become more sophisticated as OEMs look to improve the user experience for owners and operators.
Many of the telematics systems being rolled out by the big players are aimed at improving fleet management within construction. As of April 2019, 500,000 Komatsu machines worldwide were equipped with KOMTRAX technology. KOMTRAX, developed in 2006 by Komatsu, is a wireless monitoring system that allows owners of Komatsu machinery to monitor performance, maintenance and security of their fleet from their computer, tablet or smartphone. Similarly, JCB’s telematics system, Livelink, is aimed at improving fleet management, as well as machinery security and uptime. Livelink now comes as standard for 5 years on new JCB machines.
Given this, it seems telematics, along side other technologies, will pave the way forward in the construction industry. The technology will drastically evolve over the next few years, changing the way in which construction plant is utilised on site. From site safety to machinery efficiency, the industry will quickly see the benefits that advanced technologies provide. Perhaps, with their help, the construction industry will become an industry visibly at the forefront of emerging technologies for generations to come. Read more about how machinery telematics, in conjunction with cloud computing and 5G, will change the industry here.