HUMANS ARE SOCIAL beings—we like to chat with our colleagues about what we did last weekend, what’s going on with this weather, and what the heck was the coach thinking making that call in the big game. We discuss work-related topics, too. Short of conversation, we like to acknowledge each other—with a wave, a hello, or a quick "How’s it going?" While that is natural, it doesn’t help paving timeframes or efficiencies when trucks arrive at the asphalt plant or at the paver together.
Providing vision into what is happening out in the field, so that corrections can be made in real time, is one reason that paving contractors rely on FleetWatcher Materials Management Solution (MMS). MMS is a wireless telematics system developed specifically for paving contractors. This myopic focus on the construction industry and a problem-solving approach is one reason that the company is celebrating their 20th anniversary in 2020.
The melding of technology, industry knowledge, and a problem-solving approach sets FleetWatcher apart in a crowded marketplace.
"We knew 10 minutes into the demonstration that this was the solution for us," a FleetWatcher customer in Cheyenne, Wyoming said. This customer was not new to telematics—they had tried several systems in the past. So what set this equipment apart from the others?
"They spoke our language," the fleet operations manager said. "They demonstrated that they understand our business and our concerns."
Understanding the idiosyncrasies of the paving industry allows FleetWatcher teams to help customers improve efficiencies immediately. Keeping trucks on the correct routes, eliminating over-trucking, and staging trucks so that they arrive at the paver sequentially rather than simultaneously help companies to achieve savings on trucking costs on day one of implementation.
HOW IT WORKS
FleetWatcher employs GPS-enabled transponders which relay positioning information in real time. These can be installed through a hardwired battery connection for owned vehicles, through a cigarette lighter adapter for fast and easy installation in brokered vehicles, or through a smartphone app. Information is relayed continuously and displayed on computer screens in the office as well as on tablets and smartphones in the field.
Armed with this information, managers can make real-time decisions on routing, so that trucks move efficiently between the asphalt plant and the job site. Streamlining the routing also eliminates trucks from travelling in groups and sitting idly while awaiting their turn in front of the paver.
"The visibility also makes everyone accountable," a Midwestern fleet operations manager said. "Not just the trucks, but being able to see what our crews are doing in terms of tons per hour or how many feet per minute that the paver is moving."
This customer initially installed the FleetWatcher Materials Management Solution (MMS) system and tested it on two large, very visible projects they were undertaking: a highway paving project and an airport runway.
RUNWAY PROJECT TAKES OFF WITH FLEETWATCHER
The company used an average of 17-20 trucks per day on the airport runway project. Because the closest asphalt plant was miles from the airport, routing was very important.
At the same time, the company was also surfacing a significant section of a major interstate in both the northbound and southbound directions. With an asphalt plant almost alongside the project, routing was less critical than the speed of the paving and milling crews. An average of 20-30 trucks per day was used on the interstate paving project.
Combining both projects together, the company reported being able to save 15% to 20% on trucking costs with MMS.
"We can look at all jobs across a full day, and by noon determine if a particular job can afford to lose a couple trucks, or have those go to another job," the fleet operations manager said.
This has been especially helpful on some recent night paving projects. "If we have multiple jobs coming out of the same plant, and one is struggling, the superintendent or foremen will communicate with each other. They might pull a couple trucks over to run a few cycles on the struggling project to get them caught up. FleetWatcher gives us the visibility to make those decisions in real time."
Plant-side issues can also have an impact of efficiency, and plants can advise (within FleetWatcher) that they are going to be down for one reason or another, allowing this Midwestern paving contractor to adjust and pull out of another plant.
BIG BROTHER IS NOT WATCHING YOU
Just like humans are social beings, they are sometimes resistant to change. When implementing any telematics system, it is important to explain to the drivers what you are doing and why. It is important for them to understand what you are monitoring and what you are not watching. Driving with a GPS-enabled device may seem a little "big brother-ish" at first, but taking the time to explain that you are attempting to increase efficiency companywide (rather than focused on individuals) will reap benefits later on.
"Once the drivers understood that we were not watching their every move, but just interested in increasing efficiency, they were on board with program," he recalled.
Those sentiments were echoed by another fleet manager in the upper Midwest. "The truck drivers love it because they get to hit the road; the asphalt plant operators love it because it allows them to stockpile and prepare loads knowing exactly when the next truck will be ready to load," he said.
Even the job site foreman benefits from the real-time awareness of where trucks are and where they’re going. The foreman can tell how many tons have come onto the site, which product was picked up, and eliminate any errors made along the way. FleetWatcher allows the foreman to attach a weight to the truck specifically, rather than relying on a receipt from a scale clerk, which can be misprinted or incorrect.
FleetWatcher integrates with popular accounting and payroll applications such as Viewpoint and B2W, as well as with scale systems, providing important time and materials data for project invoicing as well as thirdparty trucker payments. The Virtual Shift Ticket has allowed users to eliminate paper tickets entirely.
Maximizing efficiency is the key to successful paving operations, and knowing what is happening with every truck, paver, miller, and other vital piece of equipment allows managers to make real-time decisions to enhance that efficiency. FleetWatcher MMS is helping paving contractors across the country streamline their operations.
Earthwave Technologies manufactures construction-specific wireless telematic products which provide complete visibility to all components used within the process. Their industry-leading FleetWatcher Materials Management Solution (MMS) is being used by asphalt paving contractors across the US. They also offer modules for e-ticketing, offroad construction, and more. For additional information visit www.EarthwaveTech.com, e-mail info@EarthwaveTech.com, call (800) 553-0027, or write Earthwave Technologies, 8727 Commerce Park, Suite E, Indianapolis, IN 46268.