There’s an old expression that you should ‘let the machines do the heavy lifting’. We all know that it means you shouldn’t wear yourself out doing something that a machine could do instead. As technology improves, there are bound to be even more tasks that can be committed to the ‘machines’.

In a very literal way, Lampson International, a specialist crane-hire firm, are doing just that, providing the machines needed to do the heavy lifting, in some cases massive loads of around 750 tons. That’s like 150 elephants or about 70 school buses. Imagine lifting that in one go! One particular job at a Chinese nuclear power plant saw a Lampson LTL-2600B crane pick up 1,170 metric tons at a radius of 80 feet. That’s impressive!

Trouble with tracking

When you’re renting, selling and servicing machines so large, you wouldn’t think it would be necessary to use GPS tracking to monitor them but there were problems with accurately managing the cranes.

In a case study of their crane rental operations, equipment operations manager Tony Cornwall stated that they could ‘lose contact’ with a crane for up to two years. That’s a long time to be without any maintenance or usage data. It led to problems with customer billing and crane servicing, as well as asset utilization.

They also found their previous system had very rigid reporting, which limited its usefulness and made it difficult to extract the specific information they needed to manage their cranes.

Satellite coverage and customized reporting

The problem with ‘losing contact’ with a crane was that it made it difficult to maintain the cranes and bill clients accurately.

“We work in very remote areas,” Cornwell says. “The system we previously used was based on cellular communication rather than satellite. Some of these cranes go on rent and we won’t see them for 18 months or two years. If they were in an area that didn’t have cellular coverage, then all the machine data was lost. We wanted to use a satellite-based solution so that we could find a machine no matter where it was at.”

Telogis provided a satellite-based solution, meaning that cranes could be tracked no matter how isolated the work site. This real-time tracking resulted in several benefits, primarily avoiding the chore of interrupting clients to get equipment readings.

Telogis also worked with Lampson International to create customized reports that fitted perfectly with the needs of their business — reports that gave them the data they needed to know, when they needed it. This not only meant reports actually became meaningful but they saved a lot of time looking for ‘needles in haystacks’.

Future possibilities generate more ROI

The real-time tracking and customized reporting was just the start of how GPS tracking was helping Lampson International build a more profitable crane company. Able to benefit from the ongoing research and development done by Telogis, the company started looking to future possibilities.

  • Preventative maintenance — By using real-time engine diagnostics and monitoring, maintenance issues can be resolved before they become an expensive problem. For example, if a pump in a crane throws a belt it can lead to a burned out transmission — that’s a $60,000 bill. By using GPS diagnostics, an instant alert can be sent letting the equipment manager when a belt slips, and the pressure can be monitored, avoiding expensive repairs and downtime.
  • Accurate fuel tax reporting — To prevent overpayment of fuel taxes it’s important to maintain accurate mileage records. GPS reporting means easily knowing where and when, and how far, trucks have traveled.

As Lampson International expands, adding to its growing list of projects, and the tracking technology develops further no doubt more uses for the GPS fleet tracking and monitoring will be uncovered.

About Lampson International

Lampson International was started in 1946 by Neil Lampson, and is based in Kennewick, Washington. It has one of the largest crane fleets in the world, renting, servicing and selling cranes to construction firms around the world. In fact, they recently sold one of their newest and largest cranes, the Transi-Lift LTL-3000, to Japanese firm Hitachi.