Track your way to efficiency

April 17, 2019 -  By
Photo: Tenna

Photo: Tenna

How do you find the right tracking technology for your business? Experts say landscape contractors need to look at their operation first, including the people and processes, to determine what technology would be best.

George Heck, director of strategic partnerships at Tenna, says technology is only an enabler of a company’s people and processes. He says landscape contractors should first develop an asset management strategy.

“Over the last several years, equipment managers have been inundated with data,” he says. “There’s no point in collecting the data if we’re not going to take an action with it.”

George Heck, director of strategic partnerships at Tenna,

George Heck

The challenge as an asset and equipment manager is to gain control over a fleet and get rid of underutilized equipment, according to Heck. “It’s the job of the equipment asset manager to protect the value of those assets,” he says. “Look at everything, not as a mower, a blower, an excavator, a dozer, but look at it as a revenue-producing asset that has a certain dollar value that brings a certain dollar value.”

Rob Odom, director of fleet and facilities at Hoffman Landscapes in Connecticut, says the firm originally looked into GPS and maintenance-tracking technology to gather data for greater efficiency. Right now, Hoffman uses a GPS tracking software called Linxup. For the firm’s heavy equipment, the technology is used for tracking machine location, monitoring machine hours, security and time management, according to Odom.

“We wanted to track the hours and see what the equipment was doing the most when it was on the job site,” he says. “We did that to see if we were buying the right thing or if we needed to buy something bigger.”

Rob Odom, director of fleet and facilities at Hoffman Landscapes

Rob Odom

Deciding what technology would best fit the operation at Hoffman Landscapes took some time. “The cost prohibited us from making the leap for many years,” Odom says. “But due to growth, tracking and remembering the equipment’s location and hours was becoming a challenge and causing us to be inefficient.”

Andrew Kahler, product marketing manager, John Deere WorkSight, says tracking equipment hours and utilization can be the key to running a more efficient operation.

“By being able to see what machines haven’t had any activity, contractors can identify which machines might be able to be moved to a different job site to help with utilization,” he says.

When there’s a lot of equipment assets in use, landscape contractors might get worried about them becoming lost, misplaced or just forgotten about.

Tracking equipment maintenance

Andrew Kahler, product marketing manager, John Deere WorkSight

Andrew Kahler

“If you’re tracking maintenance for a fleet of equipment, the most important information you want is hours and location,” Kahler says. “And that seems kind of trivial, but for fleets that have hundreds of machines, sometimes it can be very difficult just to figure out where a machine that needs maintenance is located to execute it.”

Many landscape contractors in the industry have a mixed fleet of equipment, Kahler says. The challenge is how to manage maintenance for a mixed fleet of equipment.

John Deere and other manufacturers can take the telematics data collected on their machines and make it available to third-party software companies that can track mixed fleets.

Some software companies collect the equipment telematics data from the manufacturer and combine it to allow landscape contractors to track maintenance for their entire fleet from a single portal. According to Kahler some of the software companies that do this include: Foresight Fleet Intelligence, Verizon Connect, LHP Telematics and HCSS Software.

Danielle Pesta

About the Author:

Danielle Pesta is the associate editor of Landscape Management. She started writing for the green industry in 2014 and has won multiple awards from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA). She can be reached at dpesta@northcoastmedia.net.

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