Why Contractors Need Automated Resource Management

The following content is sponsored by Tenna.

The simple truth is many contractors struggle with dispatching and logistical inefficiencies, but they don’t have to. With automated resource management, they will improve communication and save time and costs. 

Mobilizing and dispatching equipment is part of every construction company’s daily routine. While current construction technology has made the process of managing equipment and other asset resources more efficient, a complete and thorough solution for construction resource management – requesting, approving, scheduling, dispatching assets and related labor crews, etc. – has yet to avail itself to contractors. Until now.

Read on to learn more about a new total solution for construction resource management and dispatching for construction businesses and how that eliminates costs.

Inefficiencies with Traditional Construction Resource Management

People in the field, shop and office are all part of the logistic process including the movement and use of that equipment across operations and business locations.

Equipment and logistics managers constantly juggle and manage multiple moving parts. Between non-stop phone calls and coordination between so many sites and personnel, it’s not surprising that sometimes things slip. Equipment management software has made equipment tracking, maintenance and other management easier but equipment managers have lacked an automated process for telling people what they need to do and where they (and their assets) need to be. They may know where the equipment is and where it (and its associated operators) needs to go, but without an automated system to help facilitate the process of assigning a dispatcher or laborer and asset to an appropriate site, equipment and logistics managers are still at a disadvantage. They rely on multiple coordination phone calls to ensure that personnel know what to do and where to go. Additionally, the labor crews needed for the related field work are typically managed separately with a whole different set of systems or calls which means more inefficiency for both the Field and Office teams. Those days can be a thing of the past if a company has the right software solution that provides updates in a timely manner when plans and/or schedules change.

Field personnel – operators, low boy drivers, laborers, foremen, crew leaders, etc. – have similar problems. Today, they get a piece of paper, a text, call, or email to let them know where to go next, usually lacking details, not knowing when things may change unless they hear from the dispatcher, and no way to confirm the completed task or delivery at hand. Without clear direction and regular updates, their days can become chaotic and frustrating. The industry faces a chronic issue of unclosed loops with the field, which can lead to very expensive (or even unsafe) mistakes, oversights, and/or schedule slips.

For project teams, equipment request forms or site mobilization and equipment lists typically exist on paper or as informal emails or templates to be filled out. Once they are filled and submitted to the shop/yard manager, they typically won’t get confirmation or hear back about the plans to receive their requested asset or laborers until they ask for an update. This leaves project teams in the dark about when resources will arrive onsite, or if there was an issue or delay, which has a huge impact on executing key operations and critical path scopes. 

On the executive level, and from a documentation and risk management standpoint, executives and owners want accurate documentation and a "paper trail" of what happened/did not happen to help minimize losses and avoid missed opportunities. Details such as photos, signatures, timestamp, and geolocation when an asset gets delivered to a jobsite (for a sub or a customer) to document the condition of the asset are helpful to have documented for future reference and records.

The Cost Impacts of Poor Resource Management Processes

When communication is poor between all the key parties in logistical transactions, multiple doorways are opened for costs to creep. If a driver has been dispatched to pick up an asset that is no longer where the dispatcher thought it was, time and costs are wasted that businesses can’t get back. If project teams don’t know or trust that a requested asset will arrive to the jobsite by the time they need it, many will resort to rentals that they feel they have more control over. This runs up project costs unnecessarily and causes underutilization of company-owned assets.

With better visibility, scheduling and coordination of owned resources between jobsites, rental spend could be significantly reduced, as well as costs associated with taking excessive trips to multiple jobsites due to lacking all the right information.

For example, assuming an average of $6,000/month rent for a $100,000 machine, contractors could save $18,000 by using an existing asset from their fleet for a 3-month operation on one project with better visibility and scheduling between jobsites. As another example, a 10% reduction in fuel consumption by avoiding unnecessary “dead runs” to jobsites could save $100,000 per year in fuel alone.

Knowing what is available, maximizing the utilization of owned assets and improved logistical coordination impacts excessive rental costs and helps contractors optimally use the assets they are already carrying on their balance sheet. Reservations, scheduling and dispatching tools coupled with telematics insights within an all-encompassing Resource Management solution make this possible almost effortlessly.

What Contractors Need in a Resource Management Solution

Two major aspects are needed for an ideal construction scheduling and dispatching solution.

  • An automated solution to replace the inefficiencies created by human error prone paper-based methods, manual uploading and missed or infrequent phone calls.
  • A system that gives them clear visibility into requests, statuses, schedules, updates and the details that they need, since people who work in construction are scattered across locations and constantly on the move.

This visibility in a trusted system eliminates the need to rely on others for information and updates and reduces logistical and miscommunication risks.

The trouble with existing resource management systems on the market is that they are not truly built for construction workflows with use cases for the multiple different relevant users. Many existing products are siloed in ways that most (if not all) inputs are analog, offline, and/or manual and only cater to one user type, leaving other people that are part of the process without a solution.

For example, dispatchers still need to create/add the requests and needs they receive from the field via paper, phone, text, email, or custom form (e.g., google form) for assets and labor resources. The rest of the team –requestors, drivers, site supers, PMs, etc. – have little to no access into the dispatcher's system, so they are not aware of decisions being made (e.g., a request being approved), changes taking place every day (e.g., a delivery was delayed to tomorrow because of weather), or what to except in the future (e.g., what is planned to arrive in the next two weeks). This makes the dispatcher a bottleneck, creates stress and forces them to spend time simply communicating and closing the loop with everyone in the field. Usually only the dispatcher or the people physically sitting behind the dispatcher's screen have the full picture of what is requested, where things are, and where things will be tomorrow.

What Automated Construction Resource Management Delivers

In contrast to the existing solutions on the market, Tenna’s construction resource management offering was built the other way around: it empowers everyone (PMs, supers, drivers, laborers and more) to have access and contribute to the requesting, planning, and dispatching asset and labor.

Resource Management was built for key construction roles. It’s dedicated attention to making an easy-to-use and powerful 'field product' that drivers, laborers, PMs, supers, engineers, and other key personnel can use to complete their routine moves and operations efficiently. It was built as a customer inspired and market-informed solution of the current gaps and needs in this type of system and solution. Tenna worked directly with their contractor customers and designed a solution with their requests in mind to create a total solution for their needs that also fits seamlessly within Tenna’s core platform.

Tenna is the first to leverage telematics-based insights for a construction-specific “dispatch” solution for mixed asset fleets. This allows contractors to manage their equipment through a single provider and allows users to leverage the rest of Tenna’s equipment management insights within their scheduling and dispatching workflows within a single system, such as real-time location, telematics alerts, maintenance needs and other operations insights. This allows contractors to make the best and most-informed decisions around equipment planning and efficiently approving and fulfilling project resource needs. 

Resource Management allows for the requesting, approving, coordinating, planning, scheduling and dispatching of assets and labor resources. It includes features and functionality that are dedicated to the specific parts of the logistics process construction companies do every day to make decisions on resource moves and ultimately gives clear and visible direction to their field teams to execute on. 

The planning and scheduling part of the process, and the visibility associated with that across personnel, is a huge component that makes this product stand out. It is the shared schedule, for example, that can inform site management, the shop, the home office and the driver/laborer of what will happen next week and whether there are any conflicts for any assets or key labor resources.

Field teams using Tenna to request assets and laborers and see the schedule for the assets and labor resources they have requested benefit tremendously from this process. The user making the request can now be in the know of things getting approved, scheduled and ultimately dispatched to the site without having to nag someone for updates. This is huge for them, as they can now see and get a 2 week look ahead (or longer) of where assets and people will be. The equipment manager can also can easily spot gaps or plan for moving, renting or buying more assets.

This also alleviates those in the equipment manager, logistics manager or dispatcher role from being a chokepoint in the logistics process. This allows them to focus on other operations like reviewing requests for assets across jobsites, making decisions based on leveraging insights from Tenna such as current utilization, maintenance due, fault codes, etc. to dispatch the best asset for the job, and eliminates logistical errors and related stress.

Drivers, laborers and crews using Tenna receive notifications of where they need to be and when, with what asset, and can view their schedule, assigned pickups and deliveries or tasks for the day. They can mark tasks and deliveries as complete and easily keep the rest of the team in the know.

All of these improvements drive savings through efficiencies in multiple areas that go straight to the bottom line.

Want to Learn More about Resource Management, Scheduling and Dispatching?

Your construction teams don’t sit still and neither does Tenna. Tenna is constantly innovating and evolving to incorporate more software products, integrations and hardware into their construction technology offerings based on the true needs of contractors and the construction industry.

Interested in learning more about improving your equipment and labor requests, scheduling and dispatch processes across your key roles? Contact Tenna to streamline and simplify this process across your team.