Plant rental companies sometimes do cross-hire machinery and equipment. Our system will ensure that proper checks are done before any equipment is cross hired from another supplier. You will not want to put your reputation at stake by unknowingly supplying your customers with stolen equipment, because once this is discovered, it could spoil the relationship that has been built over many years. It will eliminate unscrupulous rental companies that are taking away business from legitimate companies and will therefore protect the market.
Our system can be easily incorporated into the health and safety systems of companies by being made part of the risk assessment checklist, because having stolen equipment working on your construction site unknowingly, can be a risk factor. The weaknesses that we have identified with the current health and safety checklist currently in use, are that they don’t make provision for checking the integrity and ownership of the machine and it checks for things like the general condition of the machines, hooters, lights, oil leaks, conditions of the tyres ,etc. Once the right boxes are ticked on the checklist, the machine will be given a ‘clean bill of health’ and the registration papers provided with the machinery will then be filed in the health and safety file. The machine will, therefore, be allowed to start to work on-site. There is absolutely no way that they can know if the machine they are being supplied with, is stolen. If this machine is involved in an accident on-site, the company can find itself in big trouble and can be sued by victims if it can be determined that they did not perform inspections on the machine’s integrity before allowing it to work on-site. Construction companies suffer losses in terms of time and revenue as a result of having their own or hired equipment stolen on their construction sites. Because it can take some time to replace stolen machinery and equipment, the system will help to enhance the risk assessment tools employed and assist companies not to expose their operations to criminal activities. Construction companies do not bother to check the integrity of the machines/equipment in terms of ownership because they are only using the machines for a period, without taking ownership of the machines and it also makes more economic sense to rent the equipment rather than buying them as it relieves them the burden of having to maintain and fix them in times of breakdowns. However, at the end, the amount
they spend on hired equipment can add up to millions, which can be money that finally ends up in the hands of criminal syndicates.
Unless we have a co-ordinated approach to the problem of theft, we will not be able to defeat it. We believe that all the role players in the industry need to pull their resources together and not work in isolation. We also believe that, if the municipality, government, mining companies, civil, construction and equipment rental companies buy into the system, we will be able to overcome the problem of having equipment being stolen on-site or at least substantially reduce it.
PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE
The system will be more useful if is managed in partnership with insurance companies and be made available to the users at highly subsidised rates,, so that it could be more affordable to the target market. The long term benefits to the insurance industry will be immeasurable and it could save them hundreds of millions if not billions in the long run; this will lead to an increase in their profits as this system will lead to a decrease in the number of machinery stolen, therefore, more money will become available to be distributed to shareholders; we must also be mindful that these equipment are high value items, whereby one piece of equipment can costs millions
There are no gadgets to be installed on the machines as the system is based on the exchange of data; hence, we believe that the cost of deploying and managing this system is manageable while the benefits will exceed the cost by far.
Theft is the biggest problem for the construction equipment industry. It increases the costs in terms of insurance and security, both physical and electronic.
The machines are poorly identified in that in most cases they are operated without the registration plates displayed on them. Owners generally choose not to attach registration plates. The machines all have a yellow colour, hence they are referred to in the construction industry as ‘yellow machinery.’
The machines are always transported by road to different construction sites, therefore chances of them been stopped by law enforcement agencies for inspection are almost non-existent. It is for this reason that we have come up with the system that will enable us to check the integrity of the machines at the place of destination.
The tracking devises can no longer be totally relied upon as thieves have found ways of disabling them.
According to South African insurance companies’ statistics report, less than 15% of the stolen equipment and machinery are recovered, despite the fact that most of them are fitted with tracking devises. The remaining 85% are never recovered, meaning that they continue to function within the industry and to generate money for the thieves at the expense of honest operators.
Some machines use universal keys, whereby a key of a particular machine can be used to unlock and start machines of a similar make. This makes it easy for thieves to steal the machines. Some manufacturers are trying to improve their systems by implanting chips in the keys to combat theft. There are, however, still a lot of machines out there using universal keys.
Our verification system is based on a Product Identification Number (PIN). This number is allocated /imprinted to a particular machine and it will be the same on the machine for its entire lifespan. A machine can have a registration number
changed if it is moved or sold to a different owner who lives in another province. Another issue is that thieves can put a legitimate registration number on a machine that does not belong to that machine, hence, our system will only use the
PIN as a starting point before checking if the registration papers match what has been provided.
Machines are normally serviced on construction sites. They will only be taken to the original manufacturer’s premises or their authorised agents if serious mechanical failures are detected. Service intervals are normally based on the number of hours worked. Thieves are not taking their machines to the agents because they are aware that the records of the real owners of the machines are kept. Thus they can get away with servicing these machines themselves.
Fake registration papers and licence discs can be provided to the hirers of equipment, and since there is no system in place in construction companies to check their authenticity, this exposes hirers of equipment to be defrauded easily. In a country like South Africa we have learned not to accept things at face value, but to cross-check and verify every document for its authenticity. There have been many reported cases of police raids where they seize equipment used to produce fake IDs, passports, licence discs and car registration papers.