Technology has empowered users to monitor and control the entire fleet in real time. Access to smart devices and increased penetration of internet has redefined the way the construction equipment segment works today, writes Renjini Liza Varghese.
Technology integration is part of the construction equipment (CE) industry. Indian CE segment has taken kangaroo leaps in adopting technologies. It can be said that the technological development that we see in the CE is advancing at a breakneck pace. Five years back an AI or IoT-integrated equipment was considered as the tech of the future. They are the in-thing, now!
A construction site in the modern age is packed with equipment that are advanced in many ways. Connected equipment, telematics, mobile apps, autonomous heavy equipment, drones, robots, augmented and virtual reality, and 3D-printed buildings are a reality now.
“India’s infrastructure sector is poised to grow significantly with increasing demand for infrastructure projects such as roads and highways, rural connectivity, urban in-frastructure, ports and airports, industrial corridors, smart city projects,” says Sailaj Verma, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, KYB-Conmat.
Hike in CE Demand
This means that there will be a hike in demand for construction equipment. However, the current economic environment is not a favourable one for infrastructure segment per se. But the fact remains that the customers are looking for more advanced equipment that can be controlled and monitored from remote locations.
The latest CEs are equipped with GPS, RFIDs, telematics and live links etc. Technology has empowered the users to monitor and control the entire fleet in real time. Access to smart devices and the increased penetration of internet has redefined the way the construction equipment segment works today.
All CE players are upbeat on technology integration now as they have seen the benefits by themselves. The customer demand is also changing frequently. Cus-tomers nowadays are looking for more fuel efficient, easy to operate, predictive maintenance tools that help them to track the movement and performance of the CE.
“Adoption of IoT and newer technologies, Industry 4.0 revolution, Eagle-eye tele-matics, GPS-based tracking system, artificial intelligence, CE rental business and equipment financing are the new trends in CE,” says Puneet Vidyarthi, Brand Leader, CASE India.
“Equipment is the most crucial factor in any construction and mining operation. With the expectation of more efficient operations from the equipment, these technologies are poised be the next big thing. We are already witnessing wide-scale adoption of these technologies in more developed markets. Back Home, we have seen the Remote Management System, Hi Mate, being launched in India and is doing excep-tionally well. Other global offerings such as Hi Assist and Hi Detect will soon find their way to the market, says ES Lee, Managing Director, Hyundai Construction Equipment India, Pvt. Ltd.
It is a fact that if one chooses the right equipment that has adopted proven technology can enhance productivity by 30-45 per cent.
The perennial complaint that is heard in the industry segment is that the companies are slow in investing in technology. While one segment of stakeholders agree on the point, another segment doesn’t.
Hemant Mathur, Assistant Vice President-Sales and Marketing, Tata Hitachi, elaborated on the benefits of tech adaptations. He said, “IoT offers the power of knowledge about the various parameters of the machine at the touch of a button at the time and place of the customer’sconvenience. Realising the enormous power this data places in the hands of our customer and us, we have taken the bold step of making it a standard offering in all our machines in India.”
Subir Chowdhury, MD and CEO, JCB India Ltd, pointed out, “Through the state-of-the-art technology, JCB has radically changed and improved the customer experience with its ma-chines. LiveLink benefits the customers in better fleet management – by enabling customers to remotely monitor and manage their machines, which leads to better expense man-agement and timely completion of work. LiveLink also provides an opportunity to custom-ers to maximise their returns on investment through better management of their assets.”
Chowdhury goes on the add: “The Geo fencing and Time fencing features also give out SMS alerts whenever the machine moves out of the designated, pre-determined geographical areas or works outside the pre-designated time limits. The machine through the hardware and the mobile network will give out an alert when operated beyond the designated timings or the geo-fenced areas. These features are useful where machines are prone to theft and misuse. There are various instances where JCB machines which were stolen have also been recovered as they appeared on the monitoring system the moment they were switched on.”
Areas of improvement
Tech adaptation results in increased productivity. This happens primarily because the efficiency of machines is much higher than manual workers. Ready-mix equipment at the site helps save time and enhances volume of work, which is a suitable solution for large projects. Precast and pre-engineered buildings help in controlling pollution and cutting down on time of construction, considerably.
The advent of software and mobile apps has made things simpler. The connected platforms have made complex processes easy to handle. The critical issue of downtime was addressed fiercely with data analysis and predictive characteristics. Predictive maintenance is possible only because the application is able to collect data on a real-time basis and analyse it. That is not all, scheduling, pre-construction re-quirements, filed reporting, project management and day–to-day activities of the equipment can now be monitored by using software. That is helping the fleet opera-tors in streamlining the presence of CE at construction sites. Integration into the smartphone has made it possible for the owners to have a check on the go.
Interestingly, software companies and mobile application providers are collaborating with each other to serve the CE customers in a better way.
AI and IoT are the new things in CE segment. The data analytics helps the user to make better decisions, improve job site safety and reduce risks. The data collected over the years can give a competitive edge to the company, if used wisely.
Construction site safety is a concern for all. Technology adaptation could help reduce injuries and fatalities at construction sites as the movements are monitored regularly and continuously. Training plays a key role in preventing and curbing accidents at the construction sites. Virtual Reality can be used to ensure safety
training and equipment operator training for construction workers. Augmented reality (AR) also is being used to improve safety at construction sites.
Of Drones and Robots
The way forward in construction equipment is expected to see use of drones and robots. While drones help to conduct inspection of the construction sites on angular basis to identify potential hazards, the entry of robots will change the entire spectrum of the segment as a whole. Drones are used mainly for inspection purposes, but there are times when drones are used for bridge and building inspections.
In the future, we expect Autonomous Heavy Equipment on the same lines as self-driving cars, taking over tasks like excavation, grading and site work.