New construction technologies are emerging that may change the fate of would-be thieves, making it much more difficult to get away without getting caught.
Jobsite security has always been a top priority for construction firms. According to the most recent Equipment Theft Report from the National Equipment Register (NER) and National Insurance Crime Bureau reports heavy equipment theft costs $400 million annually and sees only a 25 percent recovery rate. And, the average estimated value of a stolen piece of equipment is over $29,000.
What’s typically stollen? Tractors, dozers, wheel loaders, backhoes and utility vehicles are common targets, as are materials left sitting around unattended. NER says thieves are most likely to steal equipment that’s valuable and easy to move. And the make matters — John Deer, Kubota, Bobcat, Cat and Toro — are among the most common brand names on stolen equipment.
Traditional methods of preventing jobsite theft, such as fencing, lighting, inventory control and the like are still essential; but thanks to recent construction technology innovation, project managers now have access to more effective theft-stopping strategies.
Here are some new technologies construction firms are using to stop thieves from stealing expensive equipment and materials, and impacting a project’s budget:
- Access control systems with biometrics or smartphone integration: James Bond has nothing on the modern construction site, which may soon be using biometrics to allow access to restricted areas. Biometric-based access control systems use fingerprints, retina scans or facial recognition software to verify the identity of employees. The traditional ID card or badge can be forgotten or stolen, and providing them to employees is an ongoing expense. Biometrics, on the other hand, removes the possibility that a credential can be lost, forgotten or, worse yet, passed to another person.
Although biometric-based systems can be costly to set up, some systems leverage the biometric scanning technology on smartphones, by asking for a fingerprint or facial scan on the user’s phone. Other smartphone-based access control systems require users to simply tap on their phones to unlock a door — a much more cost-effective and reliable solution than issuing keycards to every employee.
- GPS and sensors for equipment tracking: It’s a best practice to take inventory of all equipment and materials, but today, technology is being used to improve the accuracy and offer additional information, such as the location of equipment on the jobsite. External and internal motion sensors can be placed on the equipment and send data back to tracking software, so project managers know where the equipment is at all times. Additionally, fencing around the perimeter of the jobsite or certain areas within the jobsite can be digitally set to restrict equipment to a prescribed area, making it impossible for thieves to leave the jobsite without being caught. If equipment is stolen, the GPS functionality makes it easy to locate and recover.
- Advanced security camera systems. Surveillance cameras have been used on the jobsite for decades, but today’s solutions are more high-tech than ever, featuring cellular connectivity for remote and mobile access to footage, and integrations with backend software. Some cameras have motion sensors that can detect after-hours movement on jobsites alert the authorities. (TrueLook just announced new motion alerts as part of its Intelligent Security offering.) Additionally, there are all types of cameras — fixed position, robotic PTZ, mobile cameras and drones, to name a few, all of which can enable project managers to view live footage remotely.
- Autonomous robots. It sounds like science fiction, but if Google has autonomous cars, why can’t construction firms use robots to monitor jobsites? Autonomous robots can provide video surveillance around the clock, even when no one is around. For example, British company Casta Spes Technologies developed a robot that drives itself around jobsites, can travel up to 11 miles per hour and has a 12-hour battery life. It uses cameras and facial recognition software to identify workers and vehicles. These autonomous surveillance solutions deter theft and enable firms to remotely monitor and record activity at all times.
Reliable Standby Theft-prevention Measures Still Work
In addition to these high-tech crime-stoppers, project managers can deter theft with traditional measures. These include:
- Maintain an inventory control system for all equipment, tools and materials.
- Mark all tools and equipment to allow for easy identification.
- Require workers to sign in and out equipment when used.
- Lock up materials and secure vehicles and heavy equipment.
- Ensure adequate lighting at night across the jobsite.
- Install fencing around the perimeter of the jobsite as a first line of defense, and keep the areas around the fencing clear.
- Post signage indicating potential fines and punishment for trespassing and theft.
- Install security cameras at entry points.
- Keep complete records and documentation.
Stop Theft in 2020
According to NER, most thefts occurred primarily between January and June. If you’re looking to increase security on your jobsite leveraging some of these new construction camera technologies, contact TrueLook to learn what solutions may best fit your needs.