The age-old concept of geofencing has been innovated and has emerged as an effective tool to increase the safety, sustainability, longevity and efficiency of infrastructure and project management. But how can Project Managers make the most of technology and fleet management practices?
The complexity associated with infrastructure projects can often be attributed to the multitude of moving parts.
At any given time, vehicles, equipment, crews, and the public are all moving without harmony, presenting challenges around coordination, safety, and overall project efficiency.
That’s where Teletrac Navman comes in. The company’s technology is designed to take the headache and guesswork out of project management and delivery, no matter the scale of the work at hand.
Geofencing is just one tiny component that makes up Teletrac Navman’s product and service offerings. But its relative impact is significant and, in some ways, understated, as James French Construction Solution Specialist at Teletrac Navman, explains.
“Geofencing is essentially a digital version of any type of fence designed to direct you to a location or to prevent you from entering a specific location. Some examples include an allocation geofence where a truck approaching a site is given directions to enter via a specific gate to pick up from a designated area,” he says.
Exclusion zones as the name suggests are areas that vehicles are prohibited from entering and drivers are alerted as they approach.
In the simplest of terms, geofencing is the process of establishing a location-based digital barrier controlled by an electronic device to detect assets crossing through, monitored via a cloud-based system. The establishment of this ‘digital boundary’ can help to keep an eye on a variety of complicated aspects of infrastructure development.
After creating these geofences across project sites, every vehicle that enters or leaves the area is recorded, providing data including the exact time, speed, and general behaviour when on or leaving the site. Furthermore, you can see all assets in and around these geofences.
Project and fleet managers have real-time access to information on company vehicles, such as how long they’ve been on site, whether they have been delayed at a location, alerts can be raised if a vehicle spends more than the allocated time, or if a vehicle is speeding within. This is a drop in the ocean of all the analytics you get in real-time.
Using geofences to calculate cycle time provides important data. Consider a truck collecting spoil or contaminated waste, time stamps show when the truck arrived on the job site and when it left the site, and weigh bridge data will show the payload. When the truck arrives at the tip site, time stamps again show how much time the truck spent on site there. The GPS tracking data between the sites provides distance and time.
Once the truck returns to the pick-up site, the process starts again, providing cycle time. From this data, users can calculate job costs, such as the cost per tonne to move spoil from site to tip.
French adds that geofences provide added value. The function can be used as a preventative and reflective tool, therefore helping to make infrastructure sites more transparent, manageable, and productive.
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A geofence as a concept is quite basic, but the amount of data that can be collected is vast and can be used for a number of applications. Throughout the lifetime of a project, all this data is recorded and accessible instantaneously. You don’t have to flip through paperwork or files. It is digital and instantly accessible.
“Safety management is an important part of all of this. You can implement a system that makes it safer for the community to work and travel around a busy job site, where trucks may carry 20 to 50 tonnes. With these slow-moving vehicles, you need visibility. Consider a system like air traffic control for trucks and other vehicles on site,” French says.
“Site traffic controllers can see on screen where everything is, monitor if the site is reaching capacity, and make the necessary changes to avoid congestion in an instant. You can see vehicles approach at any given point and direct drivers to a gate that isn’t congested, which means the movement of vehicles in the community improves tenfold at points that would be frustrating to the public.”
Directing heavy vehicles to their allocated gate away from suburban streets can also provide long-term benefits, such as reduced wear and tear on local roads from construction and equipment traffic and reductions in noise and diesel fumes.
Data from geofences can also play a key administrative tool, particularly when it comes to fuel tax credit claims.
Job site data extracted from time spent in a geofence can be used as part of the objective evidence to claim full fuel tax credit entitlements accurately. Teletrac Navman has rulings from the ATO covering this for FTC Manager, it’s fuel tax credit management solution. It records second by second data to ensure accurate information for fuel tax credit claims.
“It can have an enormous impact on the bottom line for a business because you can demonstrate with the data you’ve acquired through the geofence that you are entitled to a higher return on your fuel tax claims,” French says.
Verification of such data, being able to demonstrate proof of delivery or movement, are important aspects that French says can all be achieved through the establishment of a geofence.
“If anyone queries truck or vehicle movement, I can bring up that data in a matter of minutes. We can see where a truck was at any queried date and time and prove it is using an allocated route and has delivered to the correct location. The data is captured through site entry and exit,” he says.
Geofencing has already been used successfully by Teletrac Navman on projects such as the Sydney Rozelle, with feedback from the client pointing towards the effectiveness of the technology.
“It takes what was a previously a paper-based system and turns it into a real-time database that you can pick and poke at, at any given time,” French says. “An educational tool in which your clients and your own organisation can learn and improve upon.”