Telematics is changing equipment management too

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Telematics is a technology that’s intrinsically linked with vehicles. It tracks them, it tracks their drivers, it keeps an eye on their ongoing health and it allows fleet managers to have a much better understanding of what their employees and workers are doing on a day to day basis. However telematics is essentially just the general tracking of data, it doesn’t have to be something that only vehicles make sure of. At the latest Equipment Management Professional’s 2014 Asset Management Symposium, several speaks spoke out about how telematics was changing their lives and their businesses, in very positive ways.

In-fact off-road telematics, was one of the major focuses of the conference, which showed that just as fleet management had been revolutionised by telematics, so too could equipment management, which suffers from the same problems: worker misuse, out of hours usage, historical data on who used what and where and for how long. All of that can be automated with telematics, doing away with the need for manual reporting, paper and filing cabinets and complicated data tables. All of it can be output in a way that anyone can access and it’s making everyone’s lives a lot easier.

Beyond saving time previously spent paper pushing however, telematics attached to important equipment can also give diagnostics information. Just like telematics equipped vehicles which will let a fleet manager know if tyre pressure is getting low, or if fuel economy is slipping and therefore a service is required: equipment can do that too when given a telematics system to utilise.

“Today, with telematics, our equipment speaks to us,” said John Meese, senior director of heavy equipment at Waste Management (via EquipmentWorld). “If something is wrong, it sends us an email.”

A big thing he said however, was tracking equipment idle time. Certain heavy vehicles and machinery like tractors and diggers, can cost thousands to run if left idling too long. In one instance, Meese found that a particular piece of equipment, a Caterpillar 966, was left idling almost half of the time it was in operation. This cut into its warranty massively, as well as amounting to over $17,000 worth of wasted fuel per year.

caterpillar

Of course this sort of data needs action to be useful, which is where equipment managers come in and what makes them so important.

“You’ll need to use this data to help operations and procurement to make decisions, and that is a new role for the equipment manager,” Meese said.

Another speaker, Barth Burgett discussed cooperation between departments. He suggested that now, thanks to telematics, everyone could look at the same data in the same place and could therefore come to conclusions or agreements much faster than in the past. Previously paperwork had to be shuffled around and discrepancies between different departments’ reporting meant disagreements and misunderstandings were far more common place. Again, with telematics, those issues don’t exist.

When asked whether they thought that big brother watching over their shoulder was a good thing, especially when it comes to privacy, the speakers weren’t worried, suggesting that it was useful having the dealer looking in on what they were doing, as it meant they could help if a problem arose.

Not everyone may agree with that last sentiment, but it’s clear that telematics has benefits outside of your typical insurance scenario.

Image source: FreePhotosandArt

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Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.