Groep Verelst saves costs and gains efficiency with tracking and IoT solution of Sensolus

"In the past, manual location mapping made us less agile. We overestimated the trailer amount needed at concrete or steel plants when production peaked. Now, we anticipate better because we know the real-time location of trailers."
Portrait Frederik Ceulemans
Interview with Frederik Ceulemans
Transport Manager at Groep Verelst

Construction company Groep Verelst uses a large fleet of trailers for both the delivery and the storage of concrete and steel. In order to accurately map the locations of these trailers, each trailer is equipped with a tracker from Sensolus, the specialist in connected asset management. Through these trackers, the dispatch team of Verelst gets a clear view of the real time locations, allowing the fleet to be used more efficiently and thus saving costs. With user-friendly features in the Sensolus dashboard, the construction company can also optimize the planning of maintenance and technical inspections.

Groep Verelst has been active in the construction sector since 1979. The group has grown to become one of the leading construction companies in Belgium, boasting many years of experience. Groep Verelst consists of Verelst Residential Construction & Renovation, Verelst Industrial Construction & Renovation, Verelst Project Construction & Renovation, Verelst Precast concrete and steel structures, Verelst Project Development, Resolve and Oscar V. With these companies, Groep Verelst is active in residential construction, semi-industrial real estate, general construction and steel and concrete structures.

Manual, time-consuming follow-up

All the precast concrete and steel that Verelst produces for construction sites is loaded on and stored in trailers. Although its own fleet is considerably large with about seventy trailers, supplemented by trailers from a subcontractor and suppliers, the team that manages it is relatively small.

In the past, the locations were kept up to date manually, which was a real challenge. “Until recently, the drivers had to set aside time to note down all the trailers at each site and then deliver the numbers and locations to the dispatch team by phone. This manual process had to be repeated every day and, given the size of the fleet, took up a lot of valuable time. Locations are constantly changing, which made it a real challenge to keep a good overview,” says Frederik Ceulemans, Transport Manager at Groep Verelst.

Fast and efficient

Groep Verelst therefore sought refuge in the power of IoT and traceability solutions. This is how the construction company came into contact with Sensolus. “We delivered a tracker for each trailer that Verelst could easily install themselves,” explains Business Developer Michiel Raat of Sensolus.

“In just a few days’ time, a tracker was screwed to the headboard – the front – of each trailer. With new trailers, this is now done with strong magnets, which makes the installation really child’s play. The individual trackers were linked to the number plate and in no time, Verelst had a complete overview of all locations in the Sensolus dashboard.

The added value for Verelst is immediately noticeable. Efficiency has greatly increased because locations no longer have to be passed on manually. An up-to-date and clear overview of locations is available at any time, which is a huge cost saver for Verelst.

“Because the process of mapping locations used to be done manually, we weren’t always as agile as we wanted to be. At times of peaks in production at our concrete or steel plants, we were forced to rent more trailers. Today, we can make optimal use of our fleet. We know the real time locations at all times and can thus anticipate better on different situations. Moreover, the batteries of the trackers last a very long time. As long as the trailer is not moving, the tracker sends one location per day, which keeps the power consumption low. The batteries can easily last more than five years,” Frederik says.

Think ahead together

Apart from the solution offered by Sensolus, Frederik is also satisfied with the cooperation with the tracking specialists. From the beginning, Sensolus has thought about Verelst’s needs and the possibilities for creating added value in the future. Thanks to a new feature in the dashboard, the construction company can optimize the planning for technical inspections or maintenance.

“We have set up a perimeter around various sites such as Verelst’s headquarters or workshops. When a trailer that is due for maintenance or an inspection enters this zone, the user receives a message on the dashboard. That way, the trailer can be kept on site in time and is not on the other side of the country when it needs to be inspected,” says Michiel.

Unique application

For its trucks, Verelst was also looking for a track-and-trace solution, but for the relatively small fleet this was a big investment. Frederik therefore originally used the Sensolus trackers. “We purchased the same trackers for our trucks as for the trailers but with an adjusted response time. In this way we get a location update of our trucks every hour instead of in real time. Less frequent, but much cheaper and it gives us a good indication of where our drivers are. With the tracking systems from Sensolus we keep an overview of all our valuable assets,” concludes Frederik Ceulemans.