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Interprovincial Security and Recovery: Telematics and Equipment Security

CASE SiteWatch™ helps equipment dealer and snow removal contractor recover stolen backhoe and avoid the cost and hassle that goes with it.

Snow is serious business in the Northern U.S. and Canada – and the winter of 2013/2014 kept snow removal contractors busy. The hours are long and unpredictable, not to mention cold and wet. With all these variables, the last thing anyone wants to worry about is losing a machine, for any reason, be it downtime or theft.

Donald Kemp, of Donald Kemp and Sons, is a licensed snow removal contractor in Ottawa, where they receive more than seven feet of snow annually. Kemp had been relying on a CASE 580 Super N backhoe as one of the primary methods of loading trucks to haul snow out of parking lots.

“It happened to be a Saturday, which is a good day to draw there, and we parked the machine about 3:00 and headed back home,” says Kemp. “I didn’t have to salt Sunday or Monday, there was no snow and everything was bare. Tuesday morning, we generally salt at midnight. At 3:00 AM, we go out… where the backhoe is parked, or it should be parked, and there’s no backhoe there.”

After checking with associates to see if they had moved the machine, Kemp realized it had been stolen.

“I went to Brisson’s and told them what happened. He got on the system there and within 20 minutes we sort of knew what had happened.” What happened was that the backhoe had made its way into Quebec. The “system” Kemp refers to is SiteWatch™ telematics from CASE, which comes standard on all CASE backhoe loaders. Utilizing SiteWatch, the dealer (J.R. Brisson Equipment of Ottawa) was also able to show the police when the machine was stolen, where it travelled, and how many hours were put on the machine after it was stolen (which the customer was not charged for).

“I was able to follow where he went through the back roads in Ottawa,” says Louis Brisson, service manager and SiteWatch administrator at Brisson. “Then he parked it over the weekend because that's what they usually do. They think it might have a GPS on it so they parked it there and, if nobody sniffs around, they take it and they load it up on the truck and away they go.”

“That machine was stolen twenty minutes after he was done with his shift, so he was being watched by that guy.”

Stolen construction equipment is an epidemic in both the U.S. and Canada, but telematics systems – which also provide important productivity and machine health benefits – are an excellent weapon in combating theft and improving chances of recovery. The system can also be outfitted with geofences (virtual perimeters) that alert the owner if a machine is moved from where it should be, tipping them off even sooner to a potential theft. It’s also important to know that the machine does not have to be running for the system to be able to track it, as the GPS unit can continue to send location information at regular intervals.

Whether a paid subscription or offered standard as with CASE backhoes, the simple recovery of one piece of equipment more than recoups the investment in the telematics system. In this case here, where the machine was rented from the dealer, the customer would have been on the hook for all costs related to damage, replacement, etc.

“He's the one who has to go through the insurance claim and everything,” says Brisson. “The insurance company is going to reimburse the dealer for the value of the machine. The customer loses the taxes. He loses the depreciation of the machine, so it's a costly return for the customer.” Replacement costs for a stolen piece of equipment are expensive (even if covered by insurance), and the time and effort that goes into filling out all the paperwork, dealing with the authorities and acquiring the new piece of machinery is all time not spent working. And even though that machine may be covered by insurance, instances of theft can raise insurance premiums. It’s a costly problem, but luckily, Kemp didn’t miss a beat.

“They sent a float over and it was back at Brisson by about noon,” says Kemp. “I would say it was about six hours from the time it was reported (stolen that the machine was returned).”

Improved Customer Service for Rental Fleets

That same weekend, another wheel loader rented out by Brisson was also stolen and recovered in roughly the same location. Brisson rents out nearly 40 pieces of equipment from its Vars location for snow removal in the winter months, and being able to track physical machine location is important. It also helps track hours for billing purposes. Another important factor in the dealer-contractor relationship is machine maintenance and upkeep.

“All the snow contracts are under maintenance contracts, so we know exactly how many hours each customer is putting on it, and we can plan our service for those machines based on actual hours,” says Brisson.

This is an important caveat for all fleets of equipment large and small: ensuring that proper preventive maintenance is performed. With equipment scattered over a wide geographic area, SiteWatch gives Brisson a centralized database of machine information that isn’t reliant on word-of-mouth from the customer or sending service personnel to each site to check machines.

It also helps identify potential problems with the machine before they occur. In one instance, Brisson was alerted by the system that a particular loader was overheating. In a few moments, he was able to call the customer, diagnose and prevent the problem – which could have caused costly damage and downtime. Instead, it turns into a teachable moment.

“Sometimes when they push and the snow falls over the bucket there, it blocks the cooler,” says Brisson. “It gave me an alarm that he was overheating his unit when he's pushing. I was able to call the customer and tell the operator that he's overheating the transmission.”

The Value of Data

These are just two anecdotes from a snowy winter in Ottawa – telematics offers a wealth of additional benefits that can help transform businesses, including better understanding of equipment utilization and operator performance, reduced engine idling and curtailed unauthorized use by employees. Equipment security and health are a great starting point that more than justifies the technology – the other capabilities are pure bottom line improvements. Contact your local dealer for more information on how telematics can benefit your operation.

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