Knowing where vehicles are at all times is an essential, yet not always simple task for contractors. High-value equipment, vehicles, and other critical tools can often go unaccounted for on a jobsite, leaving contractor looking for technology that can help them track such assets more effectively.

Electrical contractor Brooks-Berry-Haynie, www.bbhelectric.com, Mableton, Ga., for example, is taking a proactive measure against the loss of high-value assets. Its strategy centers on accurate data for driver behavior and location of valuable trucks through the use of connected devices.

By mounting small devices on the dashboard of the company’s roughly 150 electrical utility trucks it has dispatched across Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Florida, Brooks-Berry-Haynie is getting a realtime view of data.  Inside the tracking device is a CDMA modem for high speed wireless connectivity.

The contractor has teamed with Sprint, www.sprint.com, Reston, Va., and ActSoft,www.actsoft.com, Tampa, Fla., to implement a telematics solution for fleet management, which helps mitigate risk and liability while also monitoring driver behavior. The benefits, according to the company, have been almost immediate.

Andy O’Kelley, vice president-operations, BBH, calls it no comparison to what the company previously had in place. O’Kelley points to the fact the old system would provide false data, which can sometimes be worse than getting no data at all.

Some of the technical details behind the solution include an embedded antenna that provides the GPS and other driver behavior and location information to BBH management. The device also allows for geofencing and customized tracking alerts to be set, making the tracking more precise and valuable in such instances like equipment theft.

In one particular instance, the technology played a role in tracking down stolen equipment. “The tracking unit told us immediately that the truck was stolen,” says O’Kelly. “We shared data with police and within hours it was found in a ditch with minimal damage. All of our trucks have expensive tools locked on board. Thanks to the device and high-performing Sprint network, we recovered the vehicle before further damage was done.”

Such technology is becoming particularly valuable in construction for a range of different reasons. Much of the value is associated with saving costs on managing fleets. These tools have the capability of providing full maintenance system, which can indicate when oil and engine fluid changes are needed and DMV inspections are due. In addition, by monitoring wear and tear on a vehicle companies are able to proactively stay out in front of fleet expenses.

Technology continues to make a difference on multiple fronts in the construction industry. Given the ubiquity of data coverage, the lowered cost of modules, antennas, and other GPS-related hardware, and reliability of wireless networks, the future looks bright for keeping an eye on assets in construction.