Heavy Equipment Theft in Des Moines

As reported in the Sun Journal, an excavator and an earthmover were stolen from a job site near the 235/80/35 interchange sometime on Friday.  Keep in mind these things don’t just "walk away".  These are LARGE pieces of equipment that required large trailers, semi trucks to pull them, and knowledgeable operators to start and load them.  (inside job?) Total value of the loss is estimated at $150k. 

This situation doesn’t come up all that often in Iowa…but the bottom line is that construction companies are faced with the decision to protect expensive capital assets with some kind of active (GPS devices that use geo-fences and ignition kill to thwart or alert when theft is happening in real time) or passive devices (LOJACK…activated after it’s stolen) or leave things to chance.  I suppose for most of this company’s history, losses to theft have not been an issue.  Now they are. 

A big part of what I do is help companies like this understand how to leverage these devices beyond the simple "getting stolen" part.  There are myriad ways companies can recover their investments in such devices including:

  1. Using the data in transportation activities to minimize wasteful driving, ie dispatching the driver directly to the machine vs. sending him/her to a general area on a job site.
  2. Alerting rental companies visually, by putting a flashing P icon on the dispatchers map when a machine has been called  off rent and is ready for pickup. "Hey John, I see you’re headed by Hickman/100th St, stop by and get that dozer that MacDaddy Construction just called off rent since you’re going by there anyway."
  3. Using the hour counts gathered daily to predictively schedule maintenance so things don’t break down.  (Better utilization of your fleet = more up time = $$$)
  4. Using geo-locations of devices that have service "coming due" to alert a service tech in an area with another job already pending to "perform those services while you’re out there close to machines 1, 2 and 3 to save the gas/wages of going back out many more times.

That’s just a sampling of ways that active machine GPS management can help firms recoup the investment in the devices…which is often $700 each and between $10-$20/month.   Do you think it would have been worth the money to put these boxes on the excavator and earth mover?  Theft alone should NOT be your motivating factor construction firm owner…it should be the icing on the cake when you loose a few hours of productivity vs. waiting for insurance to pay your claim in 120+ days…and by the way, now you’re renting those pieces for a lot more than $20/day.

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