When the clock is ticking, we tend to prioritize. And at Trackunit, we’re no different. We’ve been pushing the Eliminate Downtime agenda for some years now, but like any industry-led movement, and particularly in a sector as complex as construction, it’s made up of many moving parts.

As part of that dynamic, we made data sharing central to the strategy in 2021. In 2022, we’re focusing on sustainability. Here’s why.

Turning intentions into actions

Speak to almost anybody in the construction industry, and there is every chance that they will give you a clear indication that they not only like the idea of sustainable construction, they would also like to be a part of making that happen.

Like Trackunit, the vast majority not only sees it as a desirable outcome, it recognizes it is a massive obligation to be taking advantage of the telematics revolution to set up their fleets in such a way that they are actively reducing their Co2 emissions through a variety of measures. But getting from A to B is not simple. In fact, even finding a way to agree on what sustainable construction might actually mean and what it might require is problematic.

In construction, this is exacerbated by a number of factors. We see certain sections of the industry like the large OEMs pushing a sustainability agenda through, for example, electric vehicles, but there is a lack of significant complementary infrastructure, meaning the ability of an electric vehicle fleet to operate for a full day is limited.

It’s not exactly a lack of joined-up thinking we’re seeing here, but it does indicate the issues facing the entire ecosystem where companies focus on their individual strategies rather than take a holistic approach to sustainable construction.

Build the momentum

That’s why at Trackunit, we’ll be focusing our efforts on creating a dialog between stakeholders that we see as the starting point for a more industry-wide approach to sustainability. We already hold Round Table events with leading players and will hold our next such forum in early May where sustainability will play a key role.

This is no one-off to be shelved and quietly forgotten. In June, we’ll be staging the Eliminate Downtime Festival where our stated desire to boost efficiency in construction will sweep a broad brush that will take in the sustainability spectrum followed by a Hackathon ideas forum starting June 10 that will shed further light on where we could go with this. There will of course be more to come later in the year including an industry summit in September because we believe in momentum and agenda setting. And that can only be done through a collective industry effort.

It is, quite frankly, not before time that the industry gets its act together.

We know the intention is there but it’s also not unfair to say that construction as a sector needs a bit of pushing to take action.

The role of legislation here can’t be underplayed. Whether it’s national or supranational, directives or at least guiding principles are evident throughout the developed world and, as a quick glance at history shows, they are vital for progress.

When, for example, the US standardized in-vehicle, on-board diagnostics in the 1990s through its OBD2 directive, it sparked the creativity that ushered in an unintended, but highly welcome wave of innovation. That has since led to the kind of vehicle dashboards that we now consider the norm in the modern day, indicating how legislation can lead to bold changes coming into play quite rapidly.

Let´s walk, not crawl

That kind of legislative stick is exactly what the construction industry needs as that outside help is frequently the catalyst for change. The bolder the legislation, the better.

In environmental terms, and let’s not forget the equally pivotal role of societal dynamics for a more sustainable-friendly world here, the legislative process has predominantly focused on documentation and reporting of Co2 emissions. This is a critical development, but it’s important to remember that this is only the ‘crawling’ stage of our sustainability shift in the industry.

It is, in effect, a retrospective examination of what has already happened. What we really want to do now is get to the ‘walking’ stage and implement systems that enable fleets and contractors to accrue real-time ecological and efficiency benefits on a day-to-day basis.

That needs a fundamental reshaping of the business model to put sustainability absolutely at the center of all your activities. It might sound like a pipe dream, but there are examples aplenty. Businesses that have committed to the process have subsequently opened up new revenue streams that have in many cases helped them turn over a profit that has significantly outperformed where they were.

Schneider Electric, frequently lauded for its transformative business model, is one such example. The B2B electrical distributor reimagined its model to become an award-winning global leader in sustainability solutions and enjoyed €27bn annual revenues in 2019 from €15bn in 2007.

It shows that putting sustainability at the core of your model makes complete business sense as, increasingly, investors are becoming more ESG savvy and deliberately choosing to only invest in those companies that fit their vision of a better world. A framework with a common language for the sector is essential to making that happen.

Creating the framework

So, where do we start? How do we move to the ‘walking’ stage? Perhaps the sensible first step would be the harmonization of data that has become part of the reporting and documenting process. Once in place, we can then think about the creation of a framework and a common language with the OEMs in particular, so that fleets on any given job site can act on the telematics quickly and effectively.

That way, you develop fleets that are more efficient, more optimal and which can have a dramatic effect on your Co2 emissions.

The framework is the key as, with data at the heart of the process, it enables you to use the right equipment at the right time and in a way that the machine was designed to be used.

When that happens, you are really on the way to dramatically altering one of the biggest issues in construction by addressing the idle/productivity ratio of 90:10. We’re chasing a power usage effectiveness metric that, in effect, everyone can use as a benchmark. This is why the dialog process we have set in motion and in which the major industry players are engaged is so important.

Getting there is, of course, not easy and we certainly don`t claim to have all the answers but we believe we can facilitate dialog and that collaboration across the industry and building shared frameworks will bring the entire sector forward. That ultimately makes more sense, economically and impact-wise, than every organization setting up its own sustainability division requiring resource, effort and serious strategic planning.

Personal experience

It sounds difficult, doesn’t it, but I’d like to point to a very personal example where I’ve seen effective change in the elimination of waste and the incubation of productivity happen. In a previous incarnation, back in the early 2000s, I entered a data industry where huge IT centers were the norm and every company had one.

All these servers, routers and switches were being utilized at about 10% of capacity, while consuming huge amounts of energy. That was around the time when modular design was coming into vogue and that meant we evolved quite quickly over a few years to a scenario where we were building as we needed rather than trying to architect a future that might not develop anyway. On a number of fronts, it really was the proverbial game changer.

If we continue on the personal theme, we shouldn’t underestimate the impact of the last two years either that we have all endured in some form or another, as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s been a very real issue for manufacturers to get the parts they require under restricted-trading circumstances with delays of 18-24 months and that has seen companies become very adept at extending the life cycle of their equipment.

If something had a life cycle of 4-5 years prior to COVID, it may well have nearly doubled through better care of the equipment, without in any way compromising health and safety.

If nothing else, it demonstrates that the mentality for change and adaptability exists and that there is an organic or perhaps needs-must sustainability process that is already well underway.

We are, and I will repeat again, at the ‘crawling’ stage on this road, but if I were to sum up, we can’t get off the highway now. Turning back is also no longer an option. So let’s move forward with confidence and propel construction towards the front of the conversation on sustainability. It can be done, but it will be done only when we can come together. We’re making it happen. Let’s see if together, we can make it happen faster.

If you want to stay up to date on events of the Eliminate Downtime initiative, I encourage you to sign up to our newsletter.

Harvard Business Review, 2020 reported, ‘More than 70% of Millennials are now expecting the company to operate on a purpose-driven agenda’. And in a digital world, Deloitte, 2020, stated, ‘The purpose of a company is now as important as ‘digital’ for all generations below 40 years old’.

Follow the Flag

Our clear purpose at Trackunit is to Eliminate Downtime within the construction industry. At first, this may appear an extremely ambitious goal and difficult to unpack, but it encapsulates value generation while reducing inefficiency and waste in one of the least productive industries. We believe that with the clear unifying purpose that our business is built on and the Trackunit community believes in, we have created a pathway to improving productivity, safety, and utilization across the industry’s ecosystems. It is the foundation and the anchor that keeps us steady no matter what other pressures are in play, even during these difficult past two years.

Eliminating Downtime is key to how our data and services are engaged to build-back our industry into one that is truly useful.

This cannot be achieved by a single organization, which is why collaborative engagement with partners and the industry is essential. It’s why our ecosystem includes not just people downstream in our supply chain, but upstream amongst our rental partners, the OEMs we work with, contractor companies, and machine operators. This is true sometimes even with companies otherwise listed as competitors. We understand these are difficult conversations. However, our belief in the goal and our customers’ awareness that we are not solely P&L motivated, are the nuances that allow our partnerships to make the hard decisions for the right reasons. Collaboration with customers, using real-time feedback, helps guide them through new platforms or migrating fleet-wide utilization reports, that when implemented allow customers to solve real problems in new ways.

Organized to meet our purpose and Eliminate Downtime

Within Trackunit, a conversation is never between two people, or adversarial as we have an overriding purpose, which compels faster conflict resolution. Having a common goal empowers every individual within the company to focus on building tools to support value creation for the customer. This builds positive relationships with shared outcomes. We put a great deal of store in open customer conversations with active feedback from internal groups, partners, and customers. We share this widely to promote an understanding of customer goals and emerging trends.

Internally, our structure mobilizes people rather than manages them. We have actively worked to remove knowledge silos, so information is available across all areas of the business. Regular ‘New Tracks’ meetings involve open sessions for everyone to engage in discussion of wide ranging topics, gain inputs and knowledge, receive guidance from colleagues and connect with other departments and activities. It has been a proactive effort to humanize Trackunit, connecting on a personal level to build better, more trusting relationships.

Standing firmly on two feet

To run effectively as a business, the organization must have two strong legs. Trackunit’s technical and commercial people enjoy equal standing in the company, just as social and economic impact are common goals. This focus on balance has created a business that is in touch with its environment and willing to evolve to meet its needs.

Throughout a challenging 2021 for the global supply chain industry, Trackunit maintained 99% of our delivery deadlines.

Today, through ongoing discussion and inputs from our regular New Tracks meetings, we are now more closely aligning our supply chain and sales data to better support individual departments, our partners, and our customers.

Although our purpose-led business may appear challenging to many organizations, we believe in an age where The Great Resignation is confounding HR and senior management across the globe, many need to reconsider what their business purpose is and whether that aligns across their entire organization.

If you missed Trackunit Next, I encourage you to watch the sessions on-demand here.

The modern workplace is flooded with an ever-growing number of software tools, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of them all. From task managers to communication platforms to accounting software, the options are endless – and they are multiplying all the time. Luckily, there is a solution: tools management software. This type of software helps you keep track of all the tools you use at your workplace and on the construction site.

The management of tools, both in and outside of the workplace, is an important factor in safety and productivity. Tools are often misplaced or left out in the open, where accidents can happen. In order to prevent these from happening, effective tool management software is a must.

Tool tracking software can help track where tools are located, who uses them, and how long they last. It also helps enforce safety measures by ensuring that tools are properly stored when not in use.

Tools management software – what should you consider?

You can use tools management software to track the location of your tools, inventory levels, and the age and condition of your tools. This information can help you make better decisions about future tool purchases and help to prevent lost profits from unused or misplaced tools.

There are many tools management software options on the market. It can be hard to decide which one is the best for your business. Here are a few things to consider when choosing tools management software:

  • Ease of use: The software should be easy to use so that you and your employees can learn how to use it quickly.
  • Flexibility: The software should be flexible so that it can adapt to your company’s needs.
  • Reporting: The software should provide detailed reports so that you can track your company’s progress.

Benefits of using tool management software

Tools management systems are a tool for asset tracking that allows businesses to handle their inventory management. This type of software is beneficial to companies because it can help them save money and time.

In order to complete their jobs successfully, construction crews need the right tools and equipment. Field commandeering helps them get the necessary supplies quickly and efficiently, with notifications that keep them updated on the progress of their order.

With near real-time data centralized in one source, your team can quickly generate invoices and financial reports, allowing them to forecast more accurately and improve strategic decision-making.

Discover our Trackunit Kin solution

Trackunit Kin takes construction connectivity to the next level by leveraging our fast-growing network of hundreds of thousands of connected devices worldwide. Trackunit Kin is a major step forward in our mission to eliminate downtime.

It uses cellular and Bluetooth edge connectivity to create a self-reinforcing network effect among equipment. This makes it easier for businesses to keep track of their equipment and avoid costly interruptions.

Trackunit Kin can communicate with any Trackunit Raw unit, making it possible to discover and transmit data from the entire global install base.

Times are Changing

After a period of negative growth construction is now turning a corner and technology has been critical to this upturn in fortune. This is something that has been recognized by the innovation and investor sectors – since 2015, $11.1 billion has been invested in Construct-Tech start-ups. It seems clear that investments in construction technology are set to drive additional productivity and revenue in the coming years, as well as provide a platform for greater sector sustainability.

The opportunities to reduce inefficiencies across the construction ecosystem remain a huge task – data and analytics will be key to achieving this. Data-driven companies are already 23 times more likely to outperform competitors, and 19 times more likely to achieve above-average profitability. And data is becoming an increasingly important asset within construction.

My Word is my Bond

From an investor standpoint, according to Florian Wolff, of Hg Capital, technology is an enabler rather than the product. The investment is in the value created in new workflows, enabling insights, and allowing real-time decision-making. To reinvent construction, value chains are being reconfigured.

Success will depend on transforming closed and proprietary systems to open systems, and moving from centralized to decentralized relationship models.

This level of trust and collaboration can be seen in all successful markets.

Digitalization creates new growth in old industries. As an investment, construction technology is a rapidly emerging opportunity, moving from its earlier low complexity use cases, such as geofencing, to the creation of multi-variable optimization processes.

Today, it is increasingly serving a range of stakeholders, including customers, operators, as well as wider society with sustainability metrics. Responses to Covid restrictions and supply chain disruptions ramped up industry awareness and adoption, with 89% of industry players initiating digital-first strategies, while new technology entrants continue to promote a plethora of solutions to the market. However, fundamental change is required to position organizations to perform in the longer term.

Construction must be more innovative in creating new business models that fully utilize technology and change the business outlook to more data-led, collaborative, inclusive, and sustainable processes. Data from Bain & Co, informs us that business model innovation generates greater than 10 times margin growth against product and operational changes. Moving forward, ecosystem players will drive up to 30% of future revenues.

Standardization in Thought and Deed

Standardization in construction profit pools, such as prefabricated products, and tech infrastructure, will help the growth of interlinked profit pools, creating more collaboration. In a market segment that is expected to grow to $14 billion by 2027, new construct-tech, has been joined by global technology companies fragmenting the segment with no clear data owner. However, the expansion of collaboration in the profit pools with industry players increasing focus on innovation and partnerships show the willingness to implement standards.

Strategic Partnerships will Grow Digitalization

On a granular level, for OEMs like Terex, strategic digital initiatives are being implemented to create more value for customers through increased efficiency and reduced customer downtime. The past two years have seen Terex transition to new business processes with greater digitalization, a restated focus and investment in core initiatives.

Meanwhile, rental company Cooper Equipment has been making further inroads with customers by providing more solutions to a wider breadth of their everyday challenges. These growing relationships provide better resources and technology that assists customers to be more effective.

Both Terex and Cooper Equipment understand it is not just about machine data, we all need to be capturing environmental data to better understand equipment lifecycles, where they are and what conditions they are operating in.

We are seeing that change, with moves towards more shareable data in standard forms. The relationship between rental, OEMs, operators, and technology partners is changing with more ecosystem development. However, we must be aware that this can create unmanageable situations with the availability of multiple data portals. Working with Trackunit, Cooper Equipment now utilizes one portal to access all OEM relevant data, which it states has been a game-changer.

On the question of sustainability, both companies are invested in developing and supporting hybrid and fully electric equipment. In fact, Cooper Equipment’s was the first rental fleet to include battery-powered JCBs and today believes there’s a growing appetite for more electrically powered equipment as customer range anxiety diminishes.

What is evident is that wherever the organization is in the ecosystem, growth in the modern construction market will depend on strong customer service capabilities, constant innovation, and collaboration, while at the same time servicing the entire value chain.

If you missed out on Trackunit Next 2022, I encourage you to watch the sessions on-demand.