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19 January 2023

By International Construction

Historically, the check engine light was the only way to let the operator know something was awry with the machine he or she was operating.

With telematics and fault identification, data from sensors and controllers log occurrences and exceptions, and then transmits the details needed to solve that fault.

It is no secret that mobile equipment productivity is directly linked to uptime, repair time and on-site operator efficiency.

Telematics enables users to monitor and track productivity in real time. With telematics, users remotely access data from sensors and controllers, providing detailed reports with valuable insights. In real time, telematics solutions can pair analysed data with predefined alerts when there are deviations from normal operating parameters. This article explores five ways telematics increases mobile equipment productivity.

  • Monitor and track performance: Telematics excels due to its ability to monitor and track performance in real time. However, the flexibility of the telematics solution provider is extremely important when trying to identify and target problematic areas in the workflow. Being able to customise the alerts and parameters to match the environment is a necessity. For example, a fleet manager may need to determine why a crane’s uptime has been dropping when the workload has remained consistent. At the same time, an aggregate company may need to accurately track and report the mix of the materials being delivered – and make changes on the fly. Managers can use telematics data to track the relevant details, create rules to trigger exceptions and automatically notify the right parties when action is needed. By pinpointing the problem and delivering proposed solutions, telematics solutions are quickly becoming the standard for mobile equipment operations.
  • Track operating efficiency in real time: One of the main advantages of telematics is the ability to track operating efficiency without delay. Users can easily translate simple data points like speed, fuel consumption, route information and acceleration rates into actionable insights that fleet managers can rely on every day. Simplifying the use of data to pinpoint system inefficiencies ensures customers can determine where improvements are needed quickly and effortlessly. Rising fuel costs brings the topic of efficiency to the forefront of business conversations. Monitoring engine run time compared to vehicle operation provides the insights needed to calculate idle time across fleets, which is one of the biggest contributors to vehicle efficiency. Taking a simple approach means collecting and identifying activity in the moment (driving versus at rest) and then classifying the category of that activity (Power-Take-Off [PTO] versus idle time). The data can then be leveraged immediately to make better business decisions.
  • Monitor vehicle health in real time. Monitoring vehicle health ensures users can identify issues that may escalate in the future, as well as correct the issues before they become problematic. For example, imagine a crane starts to experience abnormal vibrations at a certain RPM. A condition-based monitoring system can automatically detect and alert on that exception, then follow up with repair guidance in real time. Predefined alarms are typically configured to alert locally inside the machine, directly to a cloud-based visualisation tool or even create work tickets directly in a maintenance management system. Armed with data, technicians are better prepared with the right parts and tools needed to repair the equipment on the first visit. Ultimately, enablement through telematics helps companies experience less downtime and maximise operator productivity.
  • Improve fault identification. Fault identification is another way to use telematics. Historically, operators have used the check engine light to inform them when something has gone awry. The challenge is that this only indicates something is wrong, but no details are included about the source or urgency of the problem and how to correct it. When you see ‘fault identification’, we are really talking about using data from sensors and controllers to log occurrences and exceptions, then transmitting the details needed to solve that fault. Once the fault information has been identified, notifying the right people is critical to reducing mean time to repair, increasing vehicle uptime and avoiding catastrophic failures. For instance, take a vehicle that is experiencing a throttle position fault. The Engine Control Module (ECM) monitors the throttle position switch (TPS) voltage baseline, compares the output voltage value, determines fault status and may even deploy an ECM Failsafe Strategy. Pairing this with a telematics solution completes the circle, up to automatically diagnosing the cause, clearing fault codes, applying voltage tests and more. Compare that to a light on the dash and the results are clear: telematics delivers immense value. When an OEM embeds telematics within the product, users can be more proactive than they ever could before, ensuring equipment is back in action quicker. OEMs love this because it provides visibility into when the faults were presented to the end customer, as well as when actions were taken to correct those faults. In the end, bad warranty claims are reduced (or even eliminated).
  • Route optimisation and adherence: Think about when there was a preventable incident because the vehicle was too tall to go under a bridge or the roadway was not able to support the weight of the machine. Pair that with up to an hour saved per day through proper route optimisation, and it’s easy to see how fleets stand to save time and resources with route planning services. Optimised routes allow fleets to reduce fuel usage, operational costs and even vehicle wear and tear. Notably, most transportation and logistics fleets today use route planning software to create predetermined routes for their operators. More recently, specialised equipment fleets and even those on-premises, light-duty equipment users have expressed an interest in optimising for their environments too. In these scenarios, think leased roads with different weight and speed requirements or industrial cranes needing to operate with optimal efficiency in large warehouses. Once the appropriate route has been determined, integrating with OEM-embedded telematics solutions delivers the real time location of each vehicle allowing for immediate validation of route adherence. Fleets can then use rules-based alerts to separate a simple wrong turn from a safety concern. Increasing productivity is one of the many benefits of an on-vehicle telematics solution, with these five focal points among the most popular return on investment drivers.

The possibilities for an embedded telematics solution that delivers value to the OEM, its dealers and ultimately the end customers are seemingly endless. Users can leverage the data logging, control, transmission and alerting capabilities available to deliver tangible results. Successful companies choose stakeholders with the right skillset and experience to guide their telematics strategy through design, development and deployment. For more information, please visit www.HEDcontrols.com.

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