Tracking technology for machine safety

Friday 7 Oct 2016

In the future big New Zealand construction companies will require GPS tracking of all contractors and sub-contractors on a site. It may be a bold call, but that is the way the industry is moving.

The mining and oil & gas industries in Australia already require GPS tracking of all vehicles, and adhere to the Land Transportation Safety Recommended Practice (OGP Report 365). These guidelines provide advice on ways to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the number of serious road traffic incidents and fatalities through the implementation of land transport safety elements within a management system. The guidelines require IVMS (in vehicle monitoring systems) to be used at all times.

Safety as a key driver - In 2012 the Australian health and safety legislation was strengthened, and as a result there is a significant duty of care placed on employers, with huge penalties when things go wrong. New Zealand is also moving in this direction with the Health and Safety Reform Bill currently before Parliament, and expected to be passed into law in the second half of 2015.

In both Australia and New Zealand a significant percentage of workplace deaths involve vehicles or machines. In addition, plant and vehicles represent the third highest cost behind salaries and rent/power. Given that combination it makes sense to focus on minimising risk and ensuring worker safety.

Employers should be thinking about:
  • Where are my employees?
  • How are they driving?
  • Are the vehicles well maintained?
  • Are they taking enough breaks?

There will also be a move towards compulsory GPS tracking of all people on a site, not just all machines. On big worksites, there may be many occasions where a worker may be working alone and out of sight of others, so technology that can alert site managers in the event of a 'man down' incident is very important.

Better business practices - The heavy construction industry faces multiple business challenges, such as achieving accurate estimating and bidding, reducing profit erosion, increasing labour productivity and efficiency, increasing asset utilisation, and ensuring the right equipment is in the right place at the right time. Moving to GPS tracking of every machine on site can go a long way toward alleviating these challenges.

With GPS fleet tracking you can trend productivity across the whole site, and extract data that allows you to reduce downtime, reduce cycle times, and distribute equipment between job sites more efficiently.

The data extracted from a GPS tracking system provides proof of hours worked and machines used, and this provides a safeguard for both the employer and contractors. It can provide proof of the hours worked and machines used.

Universal tracking of vehicles, machines and people on heavy construction sites is the way of the future. Safety of workers will be the main driving force to this change, particularly with the upcoming change to health & safety legislation in New Zealand. Improving business practice and efficiency will also be a key consideration in the competitive heavy construction market.

FIEA's Forest Industry Safety Summit, running in March 2017, will feature a range of technology developments bringing enhanced operator productivity and safety solutions to our forest industries in both Australia and New Zealand. Check out our website for details at and sign up to receive timely updates on this exciting new conference series planned for Rotorua and Melbourne.

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