5 questions with Preco Electronics President and CEO Jim Bean
by Jim Bean

CBO: Tell us about the major differences between fleet management solutions and safety systems for large trucks/heavy equipment/fleets.
JB: Heavy-duty equipment industry safety systems are a subset of the entire fleet management solution. Safety systems or collision mitigation solutions are in place to protect people and equipment. Collision mitigation solutions are responsible for saving lives, reducing the severity of potential accidents, protecting property and mitigating risk for the construction business owner.

While collision mitigation is a subset of an entire fleet management system, it is a critical component and should be continually invested in and measured with the same ROI with which you might evaluate other aspects of a fleet management solution.

CBO: What kind of new technologies are affecting the equipment safety marketplace? 
The greatest technology trend that we see being adopted for the heavy-duty industry is the concept of sensor fusion. Occurring at both the OEM and tier-one equipment suppliers, sensor fusion consolidates each of the disparate safety solutions into a centralized and multi-function display for the driver that is individualized with audible, visual or haptic alerts. This increased awareness allows the operator and the organization to gain efficiencies and increased productivity.

An illustration of sensor fusion would be providing an operator with a single screen to manage all aspects of operating the equipment. This is only possible when an organization is able to interact and integrate with each system’s origin language. Preco’s advanced radar systems play a critical role in communicating which sensors and/or cameras should be activated and shared with the driver based on its own individual findings.

CBO: How can construction business owners improve safety and mitigate risk on the jobsite? 
The construction industry is cyclical in that it follows economic trends that results in construction business owners having too much work when the economy is good and not enough when it is bad. As such, the majority of construction business owners tend to invest heavily when times are good and cut spending on safety systems when times are lean. By taking a long-term view of the business, a construction business owner’s investment to safety technologies is a small percentage that can have a significant impact on the overall success of the business. By continually investing in safety and creating a culture that is focused on safety, construction business owners are in a stronger position to retain personnel, create a more efficient environment and improve the productivity of the organization.

From a risk mitigation standpoint, the continual adoption of technology is critical. Consider a business that has half of its fleet leveraging a collision mitigation technology that was part of its new fleet of cranes. When an accident occurs with a crane that does not have it equipped, what is the justification for only having half of the fleet equipped? The business owners are opening themselves up to increased legal exposure by showing that, because some of the cranes were equipped, they were aware of the safety benefits of collision mitigation technology.

CBO: What are the most common challenges drivers experience with fleet managers or direct supervisors?
This is a great question that speaks to how new technology within the heavy-duty equipment industry is successfully introduced into an operator’s cab. Operating in the collision mitigation market space, our technology is typically mandated by the front office and used by the operator in the field. To understand the challenges you have to identify and respect the views of each party involved. As an operator you are looking to complete your job efficiently and safely. As a fleet manager or supervisor you are responsible for looking at the larger picture, including the entire work site, the maintenance of the fleet and the workforce, the allocation of resources, budget and risk.

As you can imagine, the largest hurdle is communication. At Preco, we have found that education is the key to eliminating the adoption challenges of our technology and gaining the operators confidence and support. By educating operators, we are successful in demonstrating the efficiencies that can be realized and increase their productivity level.

CBO: As a CEO in the construction industry, what business advice do you have for construction business owners?
It is my belief that the adoption of safety technologies should be viewed and measured with the same standard that you might measure the return on investment from a new piece of heavy equipment. Construction owners need to recognize that safety is an investment and a key to the success of every worksite. When you work within the heavy-duty market and you are dealing with equipment over 10,000 pounds, the risk of accidents and cost of those accidents goes up substantially. It is critical that construction companies identify their safety issues and determine which technologies will help them mitigate those issues.