Today more than ever, excellent management of an HDD company is needed in order to be in the black at the end of the year.

Everyday challenges, from finding and correctly bidding jobs to having the right employees to perform the tasks, from having the right equipment for the project to completing the job in a timely manner, are all important in today’s economy. Electronics can help you manage your company’s assets to help improve your bottom line.

Asset Management or Fleet Management is an important component of a successful business. New electronic tools are emerging to deliver more timely and accurate information in which to better manage your assets. This information can include hours used per day, vehicle location, vehicle tracking, preventative maintenance schedules, machine diagnostics, equipment utilization and theft prevention/recovery.

There are three main components to a Fleet Management system: a control unit installed on the equipment; communication system to deliver the information from the equipment to the manager; and a backoffice system to process the information into useable data.

The control unit can be installed on a new or used piece of equipment. The standard items to monitor include engine hours per day and current GPS location. The GPS location is determined from the GPS satellites and usually will give you 10- to 20-m accuracy 95 percent of the time.

Additional items to monitor can include attachment time, such as the amount of time the drill is working versus the engine running, and machine diagnostic alerts, such as high coolant temperature or low engine oil pressure. With more and more engines being electronic, more diagnostic information will be available at a much earlier stage, helping to prevent more costly repairs and downtime.

The communication system delivers information from your equipment to the backoffice. The main two options available are either cellular communication or satellite communication. There are various options on how often the information can be transmitted from the equipment to the backoffice, ranging from once a day to every 15 minutes. Just like your cell phone, the more airtime you use the higher the monthly rate per unit.

The backoffice gives you the power to see and interpret the information to better manage your equipment. This is usually Web-based and accessed by logging onto an Internet site. These sites are password protected to guard against others accessing your equipment information.

Equipment can easily be misplaced or in the wrong location. The system provides a GPS location, which is displayed on the backoffice down to street level detail mapping. The location is also geo-encoded to give the closest street address to the machine’s location. This eliminates the guesswork of where the machine is and allows the supervisor, service technician or truck driver to have an exact location of the machine. Vehicles can also be monitored throughout the day, which will increase productivity and efficiency.

Knowing your machine’s correct engine hours allows decisions to be made whether a machine is being utilized properly on the job or whether this asset should be moved to a different job. Over longer time periods, you will be able to answer if owning this machine makes sense or if rental would be a better option. Being able to monitor the working hours versus the running hours tells you whether a machine is being well utilized or if it is spending a lot of time idling on the job.

The engine hours are also used to determine when a vehicle is due for preventative maintenance. Intervals are set and reminders are automatically given as the vehicle nears the scheduled maintenance. It is critical that routine maintenance is done on time to preserve the life of the machine and prevent costly breakdowns.

Machine diagnostic capabilities let you know the machine may have low oil pressure, high water coolant temperature or many other engine warnings. These early alerts can help prevent major repairs. It’s very simple: When the machine is down, the job is not getting done. These machine alerts can be delivered to you immediately via an e-mail on your computer, phone or pager.

When your equipment is stolen, it costs not only the value of the equipment stolen, but also the delay this adds to the job. These systems can help prevent theft and/or provide an alert and tracking information to recover the vehicle. GeoFencing is one option that sends the owner a message if the vehicle leaves a preset location. These types of alerts can also be sent via email for real-time notification.

Fleet Management is a tool to help better manage your assets through our changing market.