4 Ways to Use Technology to Secure Construction Site Assets

The cost of theft from construction sites around the world runs into millions of dollars every year and causes real disruption to operations. Unfortunately, construction site theft often involves the theft of valuable portable assets including equipment, materials, tools and vehicles. 

Although theft of construction site assets will always be a worry for project and site managers, due to the increased digitization of the world, there are now more effective ways to protect property using technology. 

For managers of construction sites, large or small, looking to protect their assets, here are four anti-theft solutions using technology.

1. Track Vehicles and Heavy Equipment

Although there are traditional security measures such as fencing, chains, good lighting, and security guards to protect construction sites, a site manager can also use telematics technology to track the location of the equipment or vehicle. Smaller assets that are more mobile are particularly easy targets for thieves however you can use a discreet GPS tracker to prevent trailer theft for example,  by contacting the police and using an app to track down the criminals. GPS trackers are just as effective at tracking heavy machinery which may be the target of more organized gangs due to the high resale value of parts.

The majority of construction site vehicles have an onboard telematics system that not only uses GPS location tracking but also uses sensors and diagnostics to monitor performance. Using software on a computer or linked to a smartphone, a site manager can map out and track a whole fleet of vehicles and several pieces of machinery, and receive notifications of any suspicious activity. 

Another way of tracking assets to reduce theft is to use radio-frequency identification (RFID) that consists of a microchip tag attached to a piece of equipment, machinery, or tool that can be picked up by an RFID reader.

2. Install Security Cameras 

Camera surveillance systems have been around for a few decades now but they are a proven way to prevent and detect theft. However, one problem with older CCTV systems is the quality of the images recorded which are often blurry and sometimes useless when trying to identify someone. 

Fortunately, newer camera surveillance systems have improved imaging capabilities and features that connect cameras to a smartphone app. Managers may not always notice theft instantly but may notice after regular maintenance of machinery and inventory checks, managers can then go back to check video recordings to identify who has been stealing site assets. 

Most newer security cameras can connect to the Wi-fi or cell network to transmit video to the cloud for instant viewing and storage. Security camera apps have the added feature of sending alerts to a phone when motion or infrared sensors are set off. Furthermore, cameras that are connected to the Internet offer a convenient way to check on-site security wherever you might be, it is even possible to control the camera with some apps so you can pan, tilt and zoom the camera to survey a large area of a construction site in detail. 

Although higher-end security camera systems can cost thousands of dollars, is it possible to find more affordable solutions for small to medium-sized sites as the prices of cameras and technology continue to decrease. 

3. Keyless Ignitions

The manufacturers of construction equipment often use the same type of ignition key throughout their product line, this has some benefits for site managers as replacements are easier to make and it’s easier for a construction team to start up and use the equipment. However, there is a risk of duplicate keys being made by thieves to later steal your machinery or vehicles. 

One way to decrease the risk of keys being copied or vehicles being hot-wired is to install keyless ignitions in vehicles. Keyless ignitions usually require the operator to input a PIN instead of a key to start the ignition. The software in keyless ignition systems allows site managers to regularly reset the PIN by setting it to expire after a certain period and then issuing a new one to operators.

Keyless ignition systems are also a vital piece of technology to prevent thieves from hot-wiring or circumventing certain electrics to steal machinery as wireless relays in the ignition or fuel pump circuit stop the engine from starting. 

4. Use Inventory Management Software

For managers who have a suspicion that materials and tools are being stolen, one way to gauge the extent of the problem is by using inventory management software to monitor the number of materials and tools bought, used, and currently on-site. The software will help to highlight any discrepancies and missing materials or tools. 

The financial cost caused by the theft of construction site assets can be huge as assets have to be replaced and construction may be paused, however, you can reduce the risk of theft from your construction site by implementing some high-tech security solutions.