Like every other small business during these difficult economic times, crane companies need to focus on reducing costs.
There are a number of issues facing owners of crane companies when it comes to managing their fleets and their equipment. In addition to renting out crane equipment, many have a small fleet of light weight duty vehicles such as pickup trucks and tractor trailers to move cranes down the highway. To run this kind of business cost effectively, tracking the vehicles, ensuring they are going to the correct job sites, keeping fuel costs under control, servicing vehicles before costly breakdowns, managing payroll and overtime, billing correctly for rented cranes and reducing theft are all issues that keep small business owners up at night.
Now service fleets in the crane industry can implement plug and play telematics technology to not only capture, analyze and report on all of this information, but can also to help keep drivers safe.
By simply plugging a telematics device into a vehicle and setting up a profile, crane business owners can now get instant notifications on their smartphone or computer about their fleet of vehicles. Among the major benefits of telematics to crane operations owners are:
Creating accurate, custom billing reports
Many crane companies rent out their crane equipment and need to bill customers based on usage rates. A telematics system can accurately capture the precise usage of the cranes, so if a company is billing their customers based on this metric, a telematics system can provide that data as well as create custom billing reports.
Whether billing on first on last off or engine hours, telematics systems can help create a custom billing report to help you.
In addition, many crane companies use light duty vehicles to move their cranes along highways to customer sites. Telematics systems can help improve efficiency across these small fleets and reduce expenses. These include:
Managing time, reducing theft
Telematics systems help owners track when employees are clocking their time and how much time they are spending between jobs. Research indicates that 25 percent of workers exaggerate the time they spend on shift 75 percent of the time. By using telematics systems, owners can easily validate drivers’ shift details by setting up geo-fences for locations such as work sites, popular lunch spots, or a driver’s home and get notifications when drivers enter and exit these specific locations. For business owners and managers, they can also determine if employees are taking company trucks for unauthorized usage, and help classify trips for personal versus work use.
Reduce fuel usage
There is a direct correlation between bad driving and fuel usage. For example, idling can use up to a half-gallon of fuel an hour. Telematics can report to business owners on actions that take a serious hit on fuel usage such as speeding, excessive idling, and over-revving.
Improving driver behavior not only helps save fuel, but it helps reduce unnecessary wear and tear on vehicles. By reducing speeding, harsh braking, over-revving, and excessive idling, the pickup trucks and other lightweight vehicles stay in better condition which means less maintenance and fewer unnecessary, costly repairs.
Crane business owners can also use telematics solution to proactively set up time- or mileage-based maintenance notifications so that they can schedule maintenance when it doesn’t negatively impact operations.
Efficiently managing and utilizing assets
With service industry fleets like the crane industry, business owners tend to own assets that are quite expensive. This not only includes vehicles, but also assets like trailers, equipment, tools and more. When vehicles or equipment is stolen, it is not only expensive to replace them but it costs owners in downtime. Tracking vehicles and assets using a telematics solution can also serve as a deterrent to vehicle thieves as well as reduce the amount of time it takes to recover a stolen vehicle.
Crane owners can also use telematics to assign tasks to their crews such as pick up payment or any other special instructions. It can be used to assign a job to their crew as well.
Timesheet fraud happens when drivers get paid for work they never did, or for time spent on activities not related to work. This can occur when drivers record more hours than they actually worked, retrospective editing of driving time and the logging of regular time as overtime. Not only does timesheet fraud cost small business owners money but it can result in customers being billed incorrectly. Correct, efficient, and accurate payroll depends on accurate reporting of driving hours, especially over time. Using a telematics logbook and geo-fencing functionalities make this easy and accurate, eliminating paying for unauthorized trips.
Another major responsibility of landscape business owners is making sure they are putting safe drivers on the road who can represent their small business well. As mentioned above, with telematics, owners can monitor and manage their employees’ driving behaviors such as speeding, harsh acceleration, harsh braking, and distracted driving. When a driver speeds, they can use telematics technology to deploy in-cab audio and visual alerts to make the driver aware that they are violating a parameter as well as give them the opportunity to self-correct. Scores and ranking can be assigned to drivers based on these types of events to determine which drivers are not performing as they should and then provide appropriate training. Besides the importance of employing safe drivers, reducing accidents and lowering insurance rates is another way for owners to save money.
With tighter budgets, crane business owners will need to carefully evaluate technologies that will help make their business operate more efficiently and reduce unnecessary spending. Telematics technology is one that can help these owners in a number of areas including proper billing, maintenance, asset utilization, theft, safety and fuel usage to improve operations with a fast ROI.
This article was written by Jonathan Bates, executive vice president - marketing, MiX Telematics and is printed with permission of MiX Telematics.