Tracking Systems – Plant and Machinery. What you need to know.
It is an inescapable fact that plant theft is a major and increasingly serious problem for the plant industry, and it causes major disruptions. The threat of loss is greatest for smaller plant hire companies where theft can result in bankruptcy, but even for larger companies the result can be a debilitating loss of earnings, and a loss of goodwill with contractors.
In common with many emerging markets, the tracking industry is cluttered with offers from newly-formed suppliers seeking to cash-in on new opportunities. But robust tracking systems are not to be found in do-it-yourself cartons. It is essential, particularly where high-value plant or shipments are involved, to spend time researching the most appropriate system devices, and its essential back-up. The differences between entry level equipment and state-of-the-art bespoke systems are, to say the very least of it, dramatic. To ensure that the selected tracking system will actually be capable of fulfilling its purpose, vital questions must be answered.
Most essentially, the company you intend to deal with must be able to demonstrate a strong record of tracking success, and show itself to have been durable enough to thrive in the current economic climate. A large investment in tracking hardware can be lost if the selected tracking partner does not survive as a company. Under such circumstances the potential exposure is even greater than the immediate loss of equipment, because the tracking facility will also have been lost, and protection will be compromised. The writer suggests a minimum proven tracking industry record of five years. References should be insisted upon, and a list of clients made available. Top tracking companies supply and service tracking requirements for governments, major international brand names, and NGOs. Their experience allows them to provide robust solutions anywhere in the world, and in the most demanding of climatic and terrain situations.
Until quite recently tracking has been considered to be the stuff of James Bond films, and quite beyond the scope of everyday life. But it has now evolved into an accessible business tool that in one of its many forms suits a huge number of applications. At its best it has the potential to make the theft of plant and machinery (and even car theft) a rare occurrence. Because tracking is a rapidly expanding market it has attracted many new companies with very little experience. It is therefore essential to be able to recognise the established professionals.
At its simplest tracking is incorporated into a Smart Phone. In its most sophisticated forms custom-made tracking hardware and software really is as James Bond films might suggest. Every tracking requirement should be assessed on its merits, and each solution should be custom specified. The right supplier will be able to supply that solution. In the long term the right supplier will also offer the most economical solution, because it will work.
So what makes your plant equipment safe? What should you and shouldn’t you be looking for when buying a tracking device or considering your next tracking tender?
Checking the company is the first step, you have to be sure that the tracking devise you are considering is up to scratch. There are countless products which promise to “change the tracking market as we know it”, but all too often this ‘new’ technology is just cleverly rebranded, low quality Chinese tech. Look out for products which advertise an “extra long life battery pack” or “optional hardwire kits”, for those who understand tracking, these phrases mean one thing – turn and run away. For continued security you need a tracker with an integrated battery to ensure that it can be positioned covertly and can do all of this without compromising on longevity. Sending men into the field to change battery packs is expensive, long life lower the need for this costly requirement. A lot of these issues can be avoided by an easy acid test, was the product made in the UK. UK equipment is far more likely to be high quality; it’s a good place to start.
Pay as you go SIM cards – this is probably the ultimate example of how to get things wrong. Imagine a scenario where your £50,000 piece of plant goes missing just at the point you run out of credit. No problem, just top up and you are ready to go. WRONG, despite what you may have been told there have been numerous reports of credit taking up to 3 days to filter down to the device. Statistics show that 85% of stolen plant leaves the UK through one of the 8 major ports in the UK within 8 hours. By the time the device has recognised your credit, chances are your plant will already be on the continent. Not a risk we would want to take yet we hear reports like this all too often about other products.
Pay as you go SIM’s are not designed for M2M – fact. Sometimes companies are drawn in by the idea of cheaper costs and the possibility to control monthly outgoings, in reality the only reason these SIM cards are cheaper is because they are simply not designed for the M2M market. Lower price is due to lower demand. Tracks360 recommends suppliers like STEAM communications (credit) for a service that you can rely at all times. When the worst becomes a reality, you will be very glad that you chose the right product after all.
Credit failures are not the only reason that a tracker can fail in the field. Many products rely solely on GPS location, good for smart phones but the signal can be blocked easily by an experienced thief. The best products don’t rely on one system of communication; make sure that your product has a variety of positioning technologies. If you do this then you will have gone a long way to giving yourself peace of mind but just to be safe, its important that you are using good quality management software. This will allow you to check whether your tracker is working as planned and alerts you if anything seems amiss. If the equipment isn’t working in the field it won’t track, the right software ensures that down time is brought to an absolute minimum.
Awards and accreditations. It is always advisable to ask if the tracking device and company has been awarded any awards accreditations, look out for Thatcham approval as this is a cast iron guarantee that the tracking device does what’s it designed to do and not just hyped up marking.
In short, if you are serious about recovering you plant you will need to choose not only the correct tracking device but also the right SIM and the right software to go with it.
What makes us the experts? The Tracks360 consortium is made up of several market leading tracking and logistics based companies. We include international powerhouses such as PLC’s, boasting turnover of nearly £50 million a year and over 50 years of experience, as well as smaller niche companies that provide the expertise to truly excel in their chosen specialisation. Moreover, we have serviced and are currently supplying tracking contracts and tracking systems in almost every conceivable market, working with household company names to extend our influence globally. Tacking is a rapidly expanding market, because of this the industry includes many companies that are all marketing and little knowledge, we aim to help you make this vital distinction.