Satellites Help Recover Stolen ATV

By Larry Stewart, Executive Editor | September 28, 2010
McAnninch Corp's Trimble-equipped ATV

Stolen from a hotel parking lot en route to the project, TCM showed this survey rover’s location on a map and it was back on the job working within hours of the theft.

McAninch Corp. uses Trimble Construction Manager (TCM) software with GPS-enabled CrossCheck Global locators on transport trucks and high-theft-risk equipment such as backhoes and generators, turning logistics to their competitive advantage and thwarting thieves.

The West Des Moines, Iowa-based earthmoving contractor specializes in technically advanced earthmoving, grading and utility projects, and was an early adopter of Trimble automatic grade-control systems on its fleet of more than 400 pieces of Caterpillar equipment. Working on projects throughout Iowa and into Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri puts tremendous influence over machine utilization and costs in the hands of people moving machines from site to site.

Satellites send location information to the CrossCheck unit, which returns data in near-real time via wireless communication to a secure server. Information from the server can then be accessed from any Internet-enabled computer. The TCM software organizes equipment details graphically in charts, maps and dashboards.

“With TCM, our dispatchers have a lot more visibility into what’s really happening with projects, and that’s extremely valuable when it comes to planning and maximizing the productivity of crews and equipment,” says Dave Stitz, vice president of finance for McAninch. “And while the theft-recovery piece of TCM wasn’t our primary reason for getting the solution, it has helped us recover equipment and there’s no doubt that it’s already paid for itself many times over.”

For example, an ATV equipped with CrossCheck that McAninch uses as a survey rover was stolen recently from a hotel parking lot in Kansas City. The McAninch employee staying at the hotel was taking it to a jobsite early the next morning. He parked his truck and trailer in a well-lit area of the parking lot, near the hotel’s surveillance cameras. Nevertheless, thieves broke the trailer lock and towed away the ATV, valued at more than $8,000.

When the McAninch team member realized the rig was missing, he immediately called company logistics. The mobilization specialist pulled up a TCM map view showing where the ATV had been taken and phoned local police. With the location and equipment-identification information, police were able to recover the equipment, and the ATV was surveying the project site within hours.

Day-to-day value of TCM is significant — McAninch has successfully linked the system to its payroll software and uses TCM data to validate operator timesheets, for example. With the additional benefit of recovering stolen equipment, Stitz believes TCM has also helped minimize liability and it keeps insurance premiums down.

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