As construction equipment continues to advance and evolve with time, the vast majority of manufacturers today are beginning to focus on making their machines smarter through the use of proprietary technology systems.
The integration of a wealth of cutting-edge technologies are not only helping drive productivity and efficiency on the jobsite, but also increase operational uptime and positively impact contractors’ bottom lines.
“It’s important to look at construction machinery technology differently than just delivering more information to the cab of the machine,” said Ed Savage, product manager for Vermeer Corporation. “Instead, technology needs to be integrated into the controls of a machine, helping to simplify operations.”
A number of key advancements have propelled the construction industry to new levels of productivity, uptime and efficiency. According to Andrew Kahler, product marketing manager for John Deere WorkSight and ForeSight, four of the most prominent are:
- Grade control
- Payload weighing
- Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones
Telematics is one of the most prominent technologies currently transforming the ways in which the construction industry conducts business today. A telematics system can provide machine diagnostics alerts that help prevent downtime, theft and misuse.
According to Savage of Vermeer, manufacturers are using telematics to help foster machines efforts to communicate vital information to fleet managers and equipment owners. Additionally, telematics provides a number of important benefits to the construction industry, including increased productivity, greater efficiency and heightened operational security.
Telematics technology is also now enabling contractors to remotely track and create reports for data such as location, fuel consumption, and machine operation. The accessible nature of the technology helps customers essentially manage fleets and jobsites from anywhere in the world. In short, it’s prominence is growing, and it’s potential is limitless.
2. Integrated Grade Control Systems
A second technology significantly impacting construction equipment today is grade control systems. Technology providers are often partnering with manufacturers to deliver advanced 3D grade control with no external masts or cables. This can not only greatly reduce costs, but also the risk of theft or damage to the equipment.
“Integrated grade control systems are the present and future of the construction industry,” said Kahler. “The precision and speed are synonymous with profit.”
A number of companies have forged strategic partnerships in order to deliver integrated grade control to the construction industry. Ultimately, the benefit of these pacts is is greater access to the technology for construction contractors in the not-too-distant future.
3. Payload Weighing
Another way that construction equipment continues to advance is through payload weighing, which gives construction companies the ability to monitor material moved on a worksite.
One prominent manufacturer offers advanced payload scale as well as an embedded payload scale with more limited detail functionality. The payload weighing system measures total bucket loads, trucks loaded, cycle times and more. Another manufacturer currently provides onboard weighing systems and real-time feedback in the cab. This helps operators hit exact loading targets, see bucket and truck load weights, as well as track key performance indicators like daily production tonnage, truck load counts, tons/hours, tons/fuel burned, among others.
The technology in general can help eliminate trips to the scale, helping to improve productivity and increase operator efficiency, all while driving down costs and contributing to a safer jobsite.
A fourth and final technology playing a role of great significance at the construction jobsite today is drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles.
According to the Teal Group, civil unmanned aerial systems are attracting venture capital and predicts the civil, non-military market will grow 12.9 percent between 2018 and 2027. It also predicts that commercial use will surpass consumer drone market in 2024, with construction leading the commercial market throughout the next decade.
A number of technology companies are offering intelligent systems to help transform how the construction industry does business at the jobsite.
“Drones, which were once viewed as primarily recreational, have now taken on the task of industrial work,” explains Kahler. “In the case of John Deere, we formed a strategic alliance with Kespry to provide customers with a revolutionary new system to rapidly capture survey-grade topography in a matter of minutes.”
He adds that this has made UAVs indispensable, providing valuable insights for bidding, productivity tracking, inventory management, and project verification.