PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog
Location, Location: 4 Reasons Why GPS Construction Matters

Location, Location: 4 Reasons Why GPS in Construction Matters

How GPS Construction Technology Can Improve Productivity and Safety

When hearing GPS technology, the main thing that comes to mind is likely turn-by-turn driving directions to help them get from Point A to Point B in the fastest, most efficient manner. Certainly, this is one of the most common uses of GPS, but that’s just scratching the surface of the overall potential in the technology–especially regarding specialized work environments, like construction sites.

Today, over 30% of all employees have GPS incorporated into their job operations in some capacity–and that number is only expected to increase in the coming years as more of the benefits become fully realized. When it comes to the construction industry, there’s a variety of moving parts that all factor into staying on time and budget and completing construction to a certain level of quality. GPS construction technology can assist workers and managers in a variety of ways, from tracking vehicle fleets and equipment to helping workers perform better site surveying before shovels even hit the ground.

Though GPS construction technology does face certain challenges in adoption, research indicates that it’s becoming more widely accepted by employees in workplace settings–for a variety of reasons. For starters, field workers have found that they can self-track where they are at any given time of the day. On construction sites, this helps ensure that workers like subcontractors are accurately paid based on their performance and hours worked. Another significant benefit is improved safety, a key concern for site supervisors in jobsites around the world. However, arguably the most prominent benefit–both to construction workers and managers–is how much more efficient jobsites have the potential to become with GPS tracking. It also doesn’t hurt that managers are becoming more aware of employee concerns about GPS powered tech.

In our post below, we’ll take a closer look at why GPS tracking is becoming much more widely used in the construction field and some of the top benefits it helps facilitate:

The Benefits of GPS Construction Technology

Improves Fleet and Equipment Tracking

The tracking benefits associated with GPS can come in particularly handy on large-scale construction projects, such as megaprojects or civil construction sites that span several miles. It’s on these large construction sites when knowing where all vehicles and equipment is located can streamline efficiency and limit frustration. When equipment can be quickly located, it can be quickly dispatched to the area of the site where it is needed at the moment, avoiding an elaborate game of hide-and-seek to find its whereabouts. Construction sites have the potential to get chaotic and disjointed. GPS construction devices and tech help keep things more organized.

Fleet Tracking

On construction sites, fleet tracking is arguably the most common use of GPS technology. It can help fleets track the fastest and most efficient routes, saving time and maximizing fuel economy while avoiding traffic congestion and construction. Ultimately, this translates to more time on the jobsite and less time sitting in traffic, which can go a long way toward keeping projects on time and budget. Furthermore, fleet tracking can help you optimize your staff and travel time jobsites. Just knowing patterns of who is visiting where and how often, you can start making smarter decisions as a company to improve your fleet’s efficiency and eventually save money.

Equipment Tracking

Aside from vehicles, GPS construction technology can also be added to equipment. If you’re a construction manager or owner, you’re most likely concerned about the security of your expensive tools and machinery. GPS tech helps you keep an eye on your assets from afar, helping you to locate valuable equipment quickly, should an incident occur.

In addition to tracking equipment location, GPS integration on these devices can also help construction professionals determine when it’s time to maintain or service equipment based on manufacturer recommendations. This helps ensure that workers are operating well-maintained, safe equipment.

More Accurate Site Surveying

Construction surveying is a critical part of any construction project before shovels hit the ground. In most situations, special devices and measuring tools are required to complete calculations and site preparation. Surveying typically consists of several professionals visiting the site and analyzing factors like grading, elevation and mapping. However, armed with GPS construction tech, this process can be dramatically improved. Today, GPS systems make site surveying faster, easier and less prone to error with 3D measurement tools. By taking signals from satellites, more information can be generated from certain sites. Bonus, with the right GPS tools, only one person needs to be on the site to perform such measurements, versus a whole team, to quickly and accurately calculate in about 5 minutes at each point. For cost-conscious construction professionals, this also means you can cut down on labor costs or save money in consultant fees.

Enhances Safety

For construction companies, one key benefit of GPS technology is the ability to streamline safety on and off the jobsite. When it comes to construction, you can’t underestimate the importance of safety and the well being of your staff–essential to reducing your overall risk. Construction laborers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. In addition to injuries or fatalities having the potential to devastate a family or a construction workforce, but they can result in project interruption, OSHA fines, worker’s compensation costs and potentially even lawsuits. All factors can put a project behind schedule and over budget, not to mention bring down your employees morale on the whole. In addition to ensuring safety procedures are in place, and PPE is sufficient, and up to date, GPS construction tools can further enhance safety.

When it comes to safety away from the jobsite, GPS’ benefits include:

  • Automatic tracking of fleet maintenance: Such systems can track odometer ratings and notify professionals when routine maintenance (i.e., oil changes, tire rotations, etc.) is due. It can also notify professionals of any manufacturer-recommended maintenance at certain mileage milestones.
  • Safe driving: GPS systems can also be programmed to curb aggressive driving, which can put professionals in harm’s way and decrease a fleet’s fuel efficiency. With some systems, managers can set alerts, so they know when workers are hard braking, fast starting and driving above the speed limit. In such situations, this data can then be used as a teaching tool between managers and workers to evolve behaviors.

GPS also has its share of safety benefits on the jobsite too, such as:

  • Hazard notifications: High-risk areas of construction sites, like power lines, can be accounted for with GPS tracking, as many systems offer the ability to place geo-fences around such areas to serve as a warning for workers to proceed with extra caution. Workers equipped with this technology will receive an alert from the system when they’re about to enter these high-risk zones, ensuring they are taking extra precautions.
  • Emergency buttons: Though GPS tracking systems exist primarily on equipment or fleets; many offer an emergency button that workers can carry with them on jobsites. These panic buttons come in handy when a worker is in danger, yet unable to access their vehicle or phone.
  • Alert notifications: Managers typically know how long certain aspects of a project will take. That’s why many choose to program custom alerts, which will notify managers if a worker is taking longer than normal at a site and there’s been no sign of vehicle activity. This is helpful because it could indicate that the worker is in trouble and needs help, especially if they are unable to reach out themselves.

Demonstrates Progress

One up and coming benefit of GPS construction technology is enhancing project progress through geotagged photos. All that’s needed is a GPS digital camera to take and geotag these photos. Certain construction software, like PlanGrid, can now also sync the GPS information in your photos to a specific location on your jobsite and organize automatically.

GPS Photos

Once you have tech that captures GPS information for your photos, available most likely in your current mobile device, you’ll be able to see a variety of data such as longitude, latitude, date and time of the photo. For professionals in the civil construction sector, this information is critical when teams are surveying and documenting existing conditions and utilities. Jobsites might not have any visual markers and can span hundreds of miles. Therefore, GPS coordinates are critical to understanding where exactly a photo was taken. Having a record of this information is also valuable in the project handoff when facility or project lifecycle management begins and needs an in-depth record of all historical construction data.

GPS Technology Will Increase Construction Productivity

GPS construction tools have a range of benefits, both for workers and managers. For workers, it helps to streamline their efficiency, validates their location and performance and keeps them safer on the jobsite. For managers, GPS tracking helps them hold workers accountable, stay on time and budget and maximize profits. Noting all of these benefits, it’s easy to see why GPS technology is taking off in specialized fields beyond just the mapping routes from place to place. With construction professionals looking to increase productivity in the long-term, GPS enabled tech will be easy tools to adopt to drive improvements in efficiency.  

Grace Ellis

As a Content Marketing Manager at PlanGrid, Grace is the managing editor for the PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog. With over eight years of experience in marketing, communications and PR for technology companies, she is specialized in high-quality content creation across both traditional and digital media platforms.

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