Construction company manages downtime, frigid temperatures by using GPS on snowplows

Aug. 12, 2015

If you work in the construction industry north of the Mason-Dixon Line, chances are you have to pause operations during the winter. 

Below-freezing temperatures, ice and snow all make it difficult to work on construction projects during the dead of winter in the northern United States. 

But one company in Grand Rapids, Minn., found a way to generate income even during the cold winter months. 

Casper Construction operates a snow removal service during the winter. While it is typically involved in municipal water and sewer work, earthwork and pipeline maintenance, the company also selects workers from its five regular crews to run the seasonal snowplows. 

“It’s very slow for us in the winter,” said estimator Dan Watkins. “But we’ve got 110 snowplow customers, so we keep busy with that.” 

And HCSS GPS helps ensure Casper’s crews can get the job done quickly and efficiently, without having to spend unnecessary time out in the cold. 

Casper installed HCSS GPS units on all of its equipment, and it uses geo-fencing to track employees’ work time and run time at each location. An oversized geo-fence is drawn around each property to be plowed, and the GPS unit pings when the machinery enters the area and again when it leaves, effectively acting as a time card for the employees and a record of service for customers. 

“Our guys are out in the middle of the night snowplowing,” said Watkins. “Before, they would write down their time for every property when they got there and again when they exited. This definitely saves us a lot of time and hassle.” 

The time and location information is sent to the HCSS GPS website, where lead estimator Tom Alverson can run reports to get employees paid and record service for customers. 

“There’s no more writing it all down,” said Alverson. “Everything is flowing really nicely with what they’re giving us and what GPS is showing on our reports. We print the report and give it to accounting, and they can do the billing and payroll directly from that.” 

The GPS units also help Casper in case any liability issues arise. 

“Every so often you get a call from a customer saying, ‘You damaged my mailbox. You knocked down my tree,’ when we weren’t even in that area,” said Alverson. “They will try to blame us. But we can just pull up our GPS system and prove to them that we weren’t even there.” 

HCSS GPS does more than just give location data: It also tracks speed, records run time and idle time, monitors driver behaviors and patterns and records mileage by state. It integrates with HCSS HeavyJob, the Dispatcher, Equipment360 and FuelerPlus to help boost trucking analysis, drive preventative maintenance and manage production and costs.

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