Why Digitalization Of Asset Tracking Is A Must

Why Digitalization Of Asset Tracking Is A Must

Words: Mike Ogulnick, Public Relations Manager at Hilti North America
Photos: Hilti North America & MASONRY Magazine (cover photo)

Let’s face it. While construction can be a cutting-edge industry, it lags when it comes to digital technology. Labor, material and consumables, plus equipment costs, can quickly erase profits, especially when those expenditures are not properly managed. Adding to the cost are the complexities and inefficiencies introduced when companies rely on physical management and tracking of their inventory. As an industry, construction struggles to implement and effectively utilize emerging technology. In fact, the McKinsey Global Institute‘s Industry Digitization Index rated construction as the second least digitized industry in the world. While other industries, such as agriculture and manufacturing, have leveraged digitization to achieve record levels of productivity, the construction industry has remained relatively stagnant over the past 75 years.

Bridging this digital gap is not just about launching new software; rather, it’s about leveraging the software and data it creates to improve your construction workflow. Data created can enable quicker action for potential problems or can be applied to cultivate positive outcomes for future projects. In construction, the industry’s digital adopters are harnessing the Internet of Things (IoT) with the help of smart tools, batteries and chargers to bring efficiency to their construction workflow. The smart batteries they use are equipped with built-in diagnostics that sync with a connected tool to relay information that provides a holistic view of the item, including the battery performance levels, location, and usage data. This provides key information to team members in real-time, which enables more informed tool crib decisions to help keep projects running on time and on budget. For instance, project managers are now able to monitor tool utilization rates, recognize when assets are no longer needed, and transfer them to another project, helping to eliminate the need for unnecessary purchases.

But assets are only a part of the construction workflow. Digitization also extends to managing items consumed on the jobsite, such as drill bits, blades, abrasives, anchors and firestop products. Technology can now auto-replenish items used on jobsites, ensuring construction workers have what they need when they need it. On average, 35% of the time spent on jobsites is idle due to missing data, tools and materials. Ensuring needed materials remain replenished significantly reduces idle time, improving the project’s workflow.

It is well known in construction that labor costs and shortages are ongoing problems. To combat this issue, contractors must improve jobsite performance and productivity to better utilize the scarce resources at their disposal. Asset tracking software programs help enable firms to save time and money by adding efficiencies to their workflow and providing data that can be used to improve project bidding and forecasts. As the industry continues to evolve, digitization is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.

“There’s no question the construction industry would benefit from being digitalized,” said Samantha Smith, Hilti Tool Services Product Manager. “We must keep up with the technology available to us or risk falling behind. Solutions like ON!Track help enable jobsites to operate smoothly while saving time and money.” 

This needed evolution is because the construction industry is reaching a point where profit margins are tightening, and the cost of materials is rising. The use of non-digitized systems that do not leverage live data seamlessly integrated into construction workflows is becoming impossible to justify. The main advantage of a digital asset management software program connected to smart batteries and tools is it helps enable companies to leverage predictability by monitoring inventory through a cloud-based platform. Since it efficiently tracks inventory and the usage of materials and consumables (such as consumable items and accessories), better estimates for orders can be made before a project ever breaks ground, and flexibility can be employed as jobsite conditions change. This can help to prevent unnecessary purchases and decreased productivity due to waiting around for the right materials to arrive.

While the digital black hole may be common in the construction industry, digitizing asset management is an opportunity. An opportunity to improve construction workflow to better control costs, reduce losses, and keep projects running on time. Digital solutions like smart batteries, connected tools, digital assets and material management software are increasingly easy to use and relatively inexpensive to implement. The right choice of construction technology will more than pay for itself very quickly – by cutting costs on physical assets, freeing up staff time for more productive purposes and by eliminating the delays caused by a paper-based system that doesn’t provide the needed clarity throughout the organization and isn’t integrated into the workflow.

With ON!Track for managing tools and assets and Fieldwire for managing construction teams, Hilti is at the forefront of jobsite management technology that helps you manage field resources, streamline construction management processes, and improve field-to-office communication. To learn more about ON!Track or Fieldwire, visit Hilti.com.

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