March 30th, 2017: What should have been a minor fire turned catastrophic within minutes – leading to the collapse of a section of I-85, a main thoroughfare through the southeastern portion of the U.S., and in one of the its most congested cities: Atlanta, Georgia.
In the days following the accident, several questions have been raised: What will the impact of such a large (and time-constrained) construction headache have on an already nightmare-ish traffic environment like Atlanta, especially for logistics? And what construction and manufacturing improvements can be made to help carry this fix out to the end in the most timely and cost-efficient manner?
For a bridge that was built in 1953, only to be reconstructed in 1985 to accommodate the influx of traffic in the southern capitol, this specific portion of the interstate is said to carry around 400,000 vehicles daily. And in a city where construction and congestion are already a year-round issue, it’s hard to say what effects this kind of damage will have on the logistics and transportation in the coming months.
So, what can the construction companies working on the bridge repairs do to ensure that their equipment is up and running 24/7? For starters, embracing new technologies and concepts, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Power by the Hour, are opportunities for such incidents to be repaired and controlled in a timely fashion.
The intertwined network of physical goods within IoT, including sensors and software, allows manufacturers to freely exchange data between the products they sell — like large pieces of earth moving, heavy equipment — and their internal systems. So, durable goods built with ‘smart parts’ can send a signal to the manufacturer to alert them a repair is needed and to schedule a service appointment pre-emptively, repairing and replacing the failed part before it breaks and ensuring the equipment is never down and the construction teams don’t lose any time (or money).
For manufacturers that have cloud based service parts management solutions that integrate easily into the multiple data sources coming from IoT, they can ensure that the needed part is available ahead of time. In Atlanta’s unique situation, minimal (or no) downtime of the equipment that’s in service all day and all night is paramount to success.
Power by the Hour
Another key to minimizing downtime? Power by the Hour. When catastrophe strikes, and cities like Atlanta are faced with a 10-million-dollar emergency fund from the U.S. Department of Transportation, quick decisions need to be made about how and what is going to rebuild this road. According to the DOT, the funding is a so-called “quick release,” meaning that it will be directed towards the immediate restoration of emergency access roads and the initiation of the more critical repairs to the damaged roadways and bridges down the road (no pun intended).
With a concept like Power by the Hour, an agreement that allows a company to lease or rent equipment for a certain number of in-use hours, buying the functionality rather than the actual piece of equipment could positively impact the cost-efficiency and time constraints of a round-the-clock job.
This unique model is perfect for times when you need something quickly and when it’s an unanticipated need – just like the collapse of a major U.S. interstate. When contractors are hired for an unexpected (and sometimes catastrophic) need, that possibly calls for more equipment than they have on hand, the best solution might be to rent instead of purchasing a brand new piece of equipment, saving both time and money.
How does this save money, you ask? Well, every minute a piece of equipment is down during an on-going project, the downtime is costing the contractors money. So, naturally, the best (and most cost-efficient) solution for all is for rental companies and OEMs to be prepared to make the quickest repairs possible – thus preserving uptime and keeping paid contractors from sitting on faulty equipment.
So, when it comes to accidents, be them man-made or natural, it’s important to recognize the benefits of having current and functional durable goods to help get through times of trouble. And by embracing new technologies and concepts designed to improve efficiencies and productivity, cities can rest easy knowing that when disaster strikes – they’re prepared for anything.