Even a company with a telematics system modelled on the internet can sometimes face the problem of “too much information”.
For US software company Infor, that is exactly the position now. Having been in the market since the early 1990s, and now operating in 12 sectors, it describes its telematics solution as the “Internet of Things”.
According to director, industry strategy Andreas Hellström, the roots of the technology go back to when “a large materials handling equipment started putting electronics on its forklifts”.
As the means of delivery has changed, so has the choice of information available to the customer - and that’s where the problem lies.
“Take some of the larger OEMs of construction equipment,” said Mr Hellström.
“A lot of the products now have a telematics function on board, and the customer can turn on everything or nothing. But they are operating several hundred datapoints and it can lead to information overload.
“When that happens, how do you prioritise? The industry is extremely clerical and administrative as it is. Adding more doesn’t necessarily make it more efficient. ”
On the upside, Mr Hellström said: “The rental industry has been very quick to pick up on GPS technology”.
“There has been a rapid uptake on this type of equipment, whereas previously it had been quite a slow adaptor in some areas. It’s easier to illustrate a business case for telematics and show a return on investment.
"You can show operating hours or idling hours on capital equipment fleets, which gives rental companies the chance to change their service models and become more competitive.
“What we are also seeing is a big advantage in maintenance. The industry has moved from fixing equipment when it breaks to preventative maintenance and now to being able to read diagnostic information. They can work with predictive maintenance and decrease overall costs, and use the data to determine the product mix and investment decisions.”
For Infor, the benchmark in terms of a telematics contract remains its strong business relationship with Caterpillar, where it has collaborated to produce dealer-specific solutions and also set up the Infor Caterpillar Dealer Advisory Council.
“What Cat has done is always be very close with distributors and dealers around the globe,” commented Mr Hellström.
“It has always had an insight directly into the data. When you’re a customer you don’t realise you’re in a dealership, it’s like being in Cat. And that close relationship rings through here as well. Rather than an individual dealership or rental company, you get Cat as a central point in the data. We have similar relationships with other brands, but they haven’t necessarily come as far yet.”
As for the future: “We’re trying to take enterprise business systems into the consumer experience, such as smart phones. That’s the next big step we all have to work on, because the next generation of users aren’t going to have the patience that we had. They are not going to bother with courses or training manuals.”
What kind of a future will pan out for those users will be influenced by the efforts that have taken place to establish a telematics standard so users can see all their fleet information across common datapoints on a single website.
Both the German trade association the VDBUM and the American bodies the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and Association of Equipment Manufacturing Professionals (AEMP) have been working in this area - in September 2014 they produced a draft standard after a summer of high-profile meetings with OEMs including Liebherr, Wirtgen-Vögele, Caterpillar and Bauer.
The standardisation of telematics has also attracted the attention of the European Rental Association (ERA), where it will be the subject of a roundtable at this year’s Convention in June, with the VDBUM’s Udo Kiesewalter confirmed as a speaker.
By then it is expected that the standard will have been fully integrated following submission to the International Organization for Standardization.
So what are a typical customer’s requirements of a telematics system now? Giles Margerison, sales director UK and Ireland of Tom Tom Telematics, which deals with commercial vehicle and rental fleets ranging from one vehicle to several thousand, has identified six key areas.
These are to improve efficiency; reduce cost; comply with legislation; mitigate and reduce risk; improve general customer service; and demonstrate corporate social responsibility.
Mr Margerison said the significance of each area varies from company to company, but his own company’s technology is present in all six.
This includes an internet-based platform called Webfleet that reports the position of a vehicle every
10 seconds from a “black box” fitted behind the dashboard and hardwired to the vehicle.
Elsewhere, the company’s OBD2 on-board diagnostic tool gives real time information relating to items such as fuel consumption, engine revs, idling and CO2 emissions.
A further option is a driver terminal that can update work flows, job status and estimated times of arrival and communicate this to the customer. It can also give feedback direct to the driver of the vehicle.
“It’s all about the driver,” said Mr Margerison.
“A large element of the total cost of ownership is vehicles, so we help the customer make the driver’s life as easy as possible while also influencing their behaviour.”
Mr Margerison admits that the pace of change in the industry is such that Tom Tom Telematics can’t do everything on its own. However, its website lists nearly 350 partner organisations it is working with to bring the products of the future to market. “The market is definitely changing from push to pull. Integration wasn’t even a discussion three years ago, but it is a huge subject just now, because people historically bought technology in silos and operated a manual system to link it all up.
“And because we can integrate, we can make the tachograph work for the customer. It was only ever there to aid enforcement, and it never did anything for the customer at all. Now we can help make the customers’ lives better.”
In another branch of the automotive industry, Neil Cawse, chief executive officer of Geotab, said:
“Everyone loves the new car smell, but new vehicles mean more data for telematics solutions providers. Every year manufacturers release new models with changed or new engine codes that communicate vehicle data.
“This vehicle data, or CAN-BUS data, allows microcontrollers and devices to communicate with each other. Telematics solution providers will need to normalise the CAN-BUS data in order to communicate effectively with the growing number of potential vehicles in a fleet.
“As GSM 2G wireless networks face extinction and 4G becomes the network of choice for wireless operations, telematics solution providers will need to work closely with operators to ensure their solutions make the switch smoothly.
“A transition to stronger, faster wireless 4G networks means fleet managers will receive their data in more areas, have a future-proof solution and ultimately lower their costs.”
Back in more classic rental territory, Doosan has launched the CoreTMS wireless fleet and asset management system for its excavator, wheel loader and articulated dump truck (ADT) ranges.
Offering a web-based solution that monitors the performance and security of machines and promotes preventative maintenance, it is available on all new generation Doosan products including
Stage IV compliant excavators above 14 tonnes and can also be retrofitted. With the new service, users can monitor and communicate with the company’s machines through the Core TMS telematics website.
For rental and construction companies and manufacturing industry, Trackunit is among the leading providers of fleet management solutions, operating more than 100,000 units worldwide. It has just introduced the Trackunit DualID telematics solution featuring a separate and compact ID reader.
DualID is a refinement of the Trackunit SmartID, which has become very popular by incorporating user identification and GPS based fleet management in a single unit.
“Development of the new solution was initiated following customer requests,” said sales director Joergen Raguse.
“The background is a desire to separate the GPS unit from the ID reader, ensuring greater installation flexibility. In addition, by separating the two devices, you also allow them to operate independently of each other to further enhance security.”
The Trackunit DualID allows access to machines using either a RFID card or a PIN. It is compliant with IPAF Smart PAL Cards along with the ID06 standard of Sweden and a number of other national echo systems. At the same time, the company said the user identification makes it simple for rental companies to bill customers based on their actual, individual use – not least when resident machinery on major construction sites is used by different people and contractors.
With the introduction of Dyn@Link, Atlas Copco Road Construction Equipment said it provides customers a tool to monitor and control their machine fleet efficiently and conveniently.
This intelligent telematics system offers many possibilities to optimise fleet usage, reduce maintenance cost and save time and money.
The new telematics system Dyn@link is available in two versions: Dyn@link and Dyn@link Advanced.
Both systems include the hardware with a SIM card, webpage access and a 12-month GSM connection package, which can be extended after one year.
The device can be installed on all Atlas Copco road construction equipment even in existing machines.
When Genie released its latest products with a built in “plug and play” telematics connector, it talked of “taming the new technologies”.
Designed to increase equipment security and optimise the performance of rental fleets, thanks to its eight-pin connector, this new connector provides an interface between the electrical control system of Genie products and any third-party telematics modules currently available on the market.
“Our customers have many brands of equipment to manage and many different versions of telematics solutions,” said the company’s Matthew Skipworth.
“Our new telematics-ready aerial work platforms are the only products of their kind providing our customers the ability to manage their diverse fleets without being forced into a particular telematics solution.
“In addition to being compatible with our customers’ existing fleet management hardware, this system is also quick and simple to install on request to provide customers the benefit of rental-ready Genie equipment, including Track and Trace and Smart ID Access Control Module options.”
This is a feature from the April-May issue of IRN. For the full feature, including extra images, or to see other features from the issue, please subscribe to the magazine: http://www.khl.com/subscriptions