Is Telemetry a good way of stopping construction equipment theft? 

It’s no secret that machinery and equipment theft continues to plague the UK’s construction industry.  

A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Building reported that 92% of construction companies claim they are directly affected by petty crime and 21% have revealed that their sites are robbed on a weekly basis. Indeed, in 2020 the cost of theft and vandalism in the UK’s construction industry totalled a staggering £800 million.  

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s not just construction sites or yards that are vulnerable – it’s the tools themselves. On average, 20,000 cases of tool theft from vans are reported to the police each year, and a recent Freedom of Information request revealed that replacement tools and equipment cost the industry £15 million a year, with predictions showing that the average builder will experience the loss of £10,000-worth of tools in their lifetime. 

However, there is some light shining through the end of the tunnel: telematics technology firm ABAX has concluded that the UK construction market is taking a more proactive approach than its neighbours and fighting back with some of the highest usage figures across ABAX’s entire European portfolio. 

Telematics is the process of actively monitoring machinery and equipment remotely. This enables the owner of the equipment to ensure its location and security. Telematics help monitor the health of the equipment and identify any issues, such as sudden impact, irregular use or indeed out of hours use. In some circumstances, telematics can be used to monitor the user’s ability to operate equipment by controlling ignition based on the validity of a card or pass.  

Sudden impact or irregular use could mean hired-in equipment using excessive speed when operated in specific locations, sudden jolts or impacts measured by onboard calibrated devices. Either way, the fact is technology, particularly telematics, is an increasingly growing market in the UK. When linked up to management information systems, telematics makes fleet management a breeze – I can almost hear that collective sigh of relief. 

According to ABAX, the UK clocked up nearly 13 million hours of usage across 11,245 plant and machinery units in 2021 – a figure that has increased by 278% since 2020. The hours have been recorded via 22,380 signals coming from tools equipped with the ABAX Mini solution, working to prevent the potential theft and loss of 6,496 tools.  

kevin bul in equipment theft

This recorded usage was 160% higher than Sweden and 73% higher than Norway, a country that has experienced a similar construction crime wave in recent years.  

“As technology gets smarter, so do thieves, and when used in isolation, previous methods of theft prevention such as security cameras and locked gates are no longer enough,” explained ABAX’s UK Commercial Director Kevin Bull.   

Modern telematics technology like ABAX’s can now offer far greater theft control. Using state-of-the-art geofencing technology, that acts as an invisible tripwire, notifications are immediately triggered when items are taken outside of a designated boundary, prompting real-time tracking.  

This feature increases the chances of tools, machinery, trailers, vehicles, and any other kind of equipment being recovered, and the best part is that it actually works. After looking into ABAX, our researchers found that the company has a good success rate in the recovery of stolen construction equipment, including tracking down a stolen excavator five miles away from its building site using a GPS Plant Tracker installed in the machine’s battery. 

Research by ABAX found that excavators, diggers, surveying equipment, generators, wacker plates and even pressure washers are among the most stolen items with larger items stolen to perpetrate further crime. So, by proactively adopting the use of tracking equipment, the UK construction industry is also inadvertently making it harder for other crimes to be committed. 

Kevin added, “It’s pleasing to see the UK construction industry leading the way in Europe with this pro-active response to criminals who are continually advancing their tactics. A combination of highly accurate technology together with traditional anti-theft methods will help to keep the industry an important step ahead, at the same time as potentially saving it a small fortune.”  

To explore their tracking solutions and discover how to keep your equipment safe, visit ABAX’s website, where you’ll find all the services, resources, and support you might need. 

For the moment, though, I’ll leave you with a question: how is telemetry changing your world? Get in touch and let us know.

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