Construction is big business, generating millions for the economy every year. For example, one relatively small segment, telematics for material handling equipment, is expected to reach $7.6 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research.

Grand View notes that technological advancements in the field of telematics and improved connectivity services, the IoT (Internet of Things), have resulted in increased integration of telematics solutions in on-highway and off-highway equipment. The increasing number of sensor nodes that are being embedded in the equipment are used to transmit realtime data and collect a variety of information regarding equipment’s location, fuel consumption, and distance traveled, and more.

Telematics are being integrated into a wide range of equipment used in construction. The adoption of telematics in construction is especially important as OEMs (original-equipment manufacturers) deploy these solutions for benefits such as keeping track of equipment performance, reducing fuel consumption, and theft prevention.

With the global construction market set to grow to $8 trillion by 2030, the demand for residential and commercial building comes with an increase in the number of heavy construction vehicles using the roads. Driving in busy cities and built-up areas, heavy trucks and equipment is more likely to interface with other road users. This has potential for serious accidents and puts pressure on the industry to ensure other road users—especially cyclists and pedestrians—can be kept safe and that possibly fatal collisions are prevented. Enter telematics in the form of obstacle detection systems.

Heavy vehicles and equipment, such as dump trucks, cement mixers, and excavators, pose a danger if they are not managed safely. Blind spots tend to be much larger on these vehicles and include not only the rear and nearside but also the front, especially with elevated driver positions.

One company that offers equipment operators “blind-spot vision” is Brigade Electronics. Its approach is a variation on RADAR. RADAR obstacle detection technology can detect stationary and moving objects even in the harshest environments. It gives the driver an audible and visible warning when objects are within a certain distance.

Brigade Electronics’ Backsense Radar uses FMCW (frequency modulated continuous waves) technology, transmitting a continuously varying radar frequency signal with time stamps unique to each instance of the wave. The time of the returning wave is referenced to the stamp without the radar needing to pause transmission. This provides more accurate detection than alternative radar products that use pulsed radar technology, which instead transmits a burst of signal and then listens for the returning wave.

Another company taking telematics in construction seriously is Komatsu. The company recently introduced Proactive Dozing Control logic, a fully integrated dozing control system that allows operators to perform auto-stripping, auto-spreading, and high production dozing, as well as finish grading. Komatsu’s Proactive Dozing Control logic is built on the company’s existing intelligent machine control.

GPS (global positioning system) machine control generally focuses on finish grade, so operators only used the technology about 10-20% of the time. Proactive Dozing Control logic lets operators use automation any time, whether for general site clean-up, and backfilling trenches.

The system uses GNSS (global navigation satellite system) positioning in conjunction with an IMU (inertial measurement unit) to calculate precise position. The two sensors work together to calculate exactly where the tracks are on the ground.

The machine-control system communicates with the dozer’s hydraulic controllers, engine controllers, and the machine controller. Through cylinder sensor technology, the position of the blade is calculated in relationship to the machine body. The surrounding ground is measured and what has been done on the area being graded is determined, then that data and information is stored. When the dozer prepares to go back over that area to cut or work it more, the system understands what it was like from its previous track and the system provides a realtime picture of the ground around the machine, allowing the system to make calculated decisions based on the current terrain.

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