Machine Management - Keeping on Track
Construction Plant news Editor Lee Jones talks to contractor BAM Nuttall about the company’s adoption of the Trackunit fleet management system.
At the construction works for London’s Olympic Park, what distinguished the areas where BAM Nuttall was active from its competitors was the sea of green and orange machinery in evidence.Where some contractors have moved to hire in order to service their construction plant requirements the company is committed to owning a fleet which is proudly emblazoned with its corporate colours, and services its sites with everything from crawler cranes to site dumpers and welfare units from five depots strategically located across the country.
“Because we own the plant rather than hire it in, we can do unique things to our equipment so that it’s tailored to the needs of that site,” explains Andy Haythorne, Plant Manager of one of those depots at Allbrook in Hampshire.“At a project in Hampstead, for instance, the site manager had an issue with dog walkers moving into areas where site dumpers were active so we added wing mirrors to improve their safety.We also make use of Spillards seat belts, and the same company’s VCAS (Vehicle Collision Avoidance System), as well as retrofitting walkways around our crawler cranes.”
It is that forward-thinking approach that has led BAM Nuttall to also adopt Trackunit, and Andy explains why:“From Allbrook we cover an area from Liverpool down, and with that geographical reach the Trackunit system has really come into its own.We can instantly see how many hours a machine has done, and when it needs to be serviced without leaving the depot, which streamlines our entire operation and saves us money and man hours. Just as with our plant, we’re working with the company so that we can develop a system which is bespoke to our individual requirements, and that makes it the best system available for us.”
“Trackunit has transformed the way we operate,” addsWorkshop Manager,Adam Belsher,“and the beauty of it is that it’s very easy to operate. On average one of our machines will do around 500 hours in a three month period, and whether that machine needs servicing was in the past largely an educated guess based on that assumption.We had situations where we’d turned up on site to service a machine only to find that it had clocked up very few hours and, given the distances we cover, that’s a huge waste of labour time and fuel, but with Trackunit, we can schedule an engineer to service machines on different sites in a particular area because we know they need doing.”
In addition to live information of hours worked Trackunit can provide an engineer with the exact location of a piece of plant, a feature of particular importance on rail work, where machinery may be moving up the line. “We’re in the process of introducing tablets for mobile engineers so that they can log onto the system and
access that kind of information,” explains Andy,“and with labour one of our most significant costs it will make a huge difference. The operative can then complete a checklist for that machine, and log damage and repairs, including adding photographic records, all of which ensures that the kit is kept in good order.”
Every piece of equipment in the BAM fleet is visible on a simple spreadsheet,
with its location, hours worked, and service history all included, and alerts can be sent to workshop managers when servicing is due.“What that gives us is a very good idea of what will be required before we visit the site,” explains Adam, “which means we will be in possession of the parts beforehand and can keep the machinery active on site.When it comes to breakdowns we can check the status of machine from the depot through Trackunit and often problems can be solved over the phone rather than sending an engineer on a three hour drive.”
The features and benefits don’t end there, however.At BAM Nuttall every piece of plant is accessed by an operator via a keypad code on the machine. Each worker is given a card with the details of their licences and qualifications programmed on, which is then swiped across that keypad to gain access.That means that only authorised personnel with the right training and credentials will be using the machine on site.Trackunit records all that usage and depot managers can even activate and deactivate machinery remotely.“The system can be adapted to a client’s individual needs,” explains Mark Smyth of Trackunit. “We’re working with BAM Nuttall at the moment to use Trackunit to identify if a driver is wearing his seatbelt when driving a machine, and in that way the data that can be accessed will drive behavioural change on site and potentially save lives.”
The version ofTrackunit that BAM Nuttall operates is monitoring these key areas like engine hours, ignition going on or off, and seat belts on dumpers and tractors, and it can also highlight overloads on cranes,” adds Mark.“If there’s an issue with a driver operating a site dumper at an unacceptable speed that can also be recorded, as can the fuel efficiency behind the wheel of particular individuals.”
Having the exact location of plant at your disposal clearly has implications for improving security, but Trackunit can also set up Geofences around machinery, so if an excavator moves out of a particular zone the responsible person will be alerted. In addition, an accurate record of hours worked clearly has significant advantages for plant hirers in invoicing customers.“The system allows us to be pro-active across a range of issues, from usage to safety,” concludes Andy, “and the ultimate aim for us is for the data we can now access to drive behavioural change on site and improve efficiency.”