Decoded

How TomTom Maps APIs Enable Just-in-Time Construction Material Delivery

Developer Portal
Jan 10, 2022 • Last edit on Jan 18, 20221 min read
Laptop displaying map with route and a pop-up showing ETA and delay time

Every business wants to make the best use of its resources. Construction companies must ensure just-in-time delivery of time-sensitive materials, equipment, and operators to the construction site, including loading materials at intermediate points, to ensure all components arrive when needed. Juggling the materials, personnel, and equipment just right reduces downtime and waste.

Waste occurs when workers aren’t able to use time-sensitive materials within their designated timeframe. Take, for example, a hot asphalt that may cool too much or a pourable concrete that thickens if mixed for too long. If the company doesn’t use these materials within a specified period, they become useless and represent wasted capital.

Transit problems can cause delays. So can workers who are unavailable to use materials that arrive off-schedule.

Knowing the location of equipment, operators, and materials at all times is vital to getting the job done. Construction fleet operation efficiency affects the fleet operator, the general contractor, and the construction clients. Ensuring the satisfaction of all parties greatly influences repeat business and profitability.

Let’s explore how TomTom’s rich array of Maps APIs enhances the development of construction fleet planning applications, by using the route-planning and location information that ensure just-in-time materials arrive when workers are available to use them.

Planning the Route and Timing the Delivery

Some of the most basic information for planning is the expected duration for an object (or individual) to travel from points A to B. This information is crucial for app users to effectively coordinate movement of equipment, operator, and material to the job site.

The fleet manager needs to determine when to pick up the materials and whether they need specialized equipment or personnel, such as a cement mixer or an operator. Your app’s construction fleet planning doesn’t merely involve a single route. It requires multiple paths with various dependencies, which can potentially delay the entire project. While the eventual endpoint is the construction site, there may be stopovers while en route, such as those for material pickups — each with their own loading times. The app needs to factor these dependencies into its calculations.

TomTom’s Routing API provides the information that app users need to understand, plan, and coordinate all moving parts. First, it helps determine the estimated arrival time of all necessary project components, allowing it to calculate the time at which a vehicle must leave so that it arrives at the desired time.

The Routing API also provides the most efficient route so users can ascertain travel times between destinations and the estimated times of arrival (ETA). TomTom’s Routing API considers restrictions such as hazardous materials, transport weight, and vehicle height so that it can generate routes that accommodate virtually any transport. With these considerations, the app’s users won’t need to worry about violating local laws or encountering an impassable 11-foot-8 bridge on the way to the construction site.

While the vehicle is traveling the route, the API also incorporates real-time traffic and accident information. This information enables the application to perform live routing adjustments to stay as close as possible to the original ETA. Whether road conditions are improving or deteriorating, the routing API monitors these changes so the application can adjust the route accordingly.

When the TomTom APIs generate a changed ETA, the application can send alerts to project managers and supervisors. So, even if a truck is delayed in picking up material, the people scheduled to load the truck can be aware and focus on other work until the updated time, avoiding additional delays by knowing when the truck will finally arrive. The same is true of the job site. The concrete or asphalt crew can focus on other tasks while maintaining an accurate picture of when the freshly-delivered materials will be available for use.

Pinpointing Vehicle Locations

Fleet operation managers must make short- and long-range plans to optimize fleet use. Planning requires knowing the location of any piece of equipment or necessary personnel at any given moment. The TomTom Location History API provides this information.

When equipment contracts begin and end, the company reassigns the equipment, operators, and transporters to a new location. A high-level view of everything in the fleet simplifies these processes. Users can filter the view by equipment type or other variables.

One example is maintenance needs. A piece of equipment may appear to be the closest and best choice for a job, but it may need scheduled maintenance to stay within safe operating requirements. Location history enables the user to find all their resources and combine that data with other information that may affect availability.

Location history helps for short-term operations support as well. Inevitably, equipment will break down while on route. Location history provides the location of the vehicles that are available to help recover from an equipment failure. Once identified, the routing API gives the project manager an ETA to adjust plans as necessary.

The location history API can determine an equipment operator’s location via their company mobile phone. Locating operators certified for equipment can assist project managers in assigning people to projects and replacing injured or ill operators to prevent project delays. Operators working on a contract basis may also appreciate this feature as it augments their hours and income.

Preparing for Delivery

Geofencing

The TomTom Geofencing API lets you set up a border or fence around any point on a map. As the picture above shows, you can choose simple or complex shapes depending on your needs. The Geofencing API alerts the user when equipment crosses into or out of the geofenced perimeter. Geofencing has several compelling uses for construction fleet planning.

People who are on-site need to know when materials will arrive. The versatile Geofence API can easily create a perimeter around any location, big or small, and provide users with information about movement into or out of the area.

For example, a geofence can alert a construction site crew that equipment is 30 minutes away. This way, the construction site can have the personnel available to unload the vehicle and work with the fresh concrete or asphalt. Similarly, an alert to the pickup location can ensure the equipment and loaders are available, limiting wait time when picking up material.

Streamlining Your Construction Application

Incorporating TomTom’s APIs into your construction fleet planning applications enables you to access location-based information. With just a few lines of code, these APIs can streamline a construction business and enhance the app’s ability to provide timely communication to its users.

APIs can help construction companies ensure materials arrive on time and alert personnel to be ready for their arrival. Tracking just-in-time materials such as asphalt and concrete this way helps reduce wasted material and wasted time.

When you’re ready to start building your own construction application, sign up for a free TomTom developer account. Explore TomTom API details, tips, and code samples, then incorporate these mapping functions into your application.

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