The basic premise of GPS technology is simple: Sensors placed on trucks and equipment beam location, engine health and maintenance scheduling information to you via satellites. As an owner or manager, this technology gives you the power to monitor an almost unbelievable array of options. You can see, in real time, the speeds being driven in your company trucks or track how long a truck sits at a given location – be it a jobsite or a burger joint.
According to Caterpillar, the benefit of knowing the location of equipment combined with hours on each machine aids managers’ understanding of which machines are, or are not, being utilized at a given jobsite. Idle equipment can then be reallocated accordingly to get additional work done.
GPS provider Teletrac says it has recognized the benefits GPS and tracking systems can provide to landscapers for the past seven years. But it’s only been in the last two years or so that landscapers have only come on board. “We’ve been very successful in the landscaping and lawn maintenance markets,” says Drew Hamilton, vice president of sales, Teletrac. “About 75 percent of our clients now are in the service sector, including landscapers.”
Jack Pierce, vice president of business development, for LeasePlan USA, agrees. “I don’t think we’re anywhere near having this settle down in terms of popularity among landscapers,” he says.
Remote connectivity systems can do more than keep track of hours. “Geofencing” is a way of setting geographic boundaries, or “fences,” electronically. If a truck or machine enters and/or leaves these predetermined areas – which can be as large as a state or as small as a jobsite – an alert is sent to you or a fleet manager.
Route planning is another helpful feature that enables a manager or crew member to input the route each truck will follow on a given day to complete the scheduled jobs. Fuel cards can also be linked into GPS systems to track how much fuel has been purchased or if employees add snacks and drinks onto gas purchases.
These systems can also document whether a driver is speeding, says Bill Ritzhaupt, marketing manager, Teletrac. “If you can document the fact that your drivers do not speed on the job, it might lead to a reduction in insurance costs.”
The future of tracking
Since GPS and tracking technology are fairly new to the landscaping sector, the size of the company often determines what level of information knowledge is desired.
“There is a lot of paranoia surrounding the information that is collected and what has to be done with it,” Pierce says. “Sometimes larger companies don’t want to know everything because they don’t want to manage it all. Some of the smaller companies can’t justify knowing all the information at this time.”
Some landscapers use the historical data when they bid new work, Ritzhaupt adds. It helps them make documented adjustments to jobsite time and provides more insight and accuracy when bidding new jobs.
According to Caterpillar, most owners should apply the basics such as hours and location to their business first. All of the technology can benefit landscapers in various ways, but it is the dealers and the support they offer that will keep these businesses up and running; that should not be overlooked when purchasing a remote connectivity system.