Which equipment is earning money and which equipment is sitting idle? Can you document machine and operator productivity? Are your machines properly sized? Equipment monitoring systems can supply this information over your PC, smart phone or cell phone via a web-based interface.
These systems provide insight on how your operation is doing. “You can only improve on what you measure,” says Liz Quinn, product marketing manager, John Deere WorkSight. Telematics systems let you measure the productivity of your machines and operators, plus keep tabs on machine health, fuel burn and preventive maintenance (PM) schedules.
You gain visibility to all of your jobsites from anywhere you have access to the Internet. “Productivity results obtained by telematics can be shared with personnel on the job and be used as learning tools to refine job operations,” says Ron Ludchak, director of global sales, Topcon Tierra. “In addition, telematics provide accurate machine utilization data, providing the opportunity to size the equipment fleet for maximum production. We have one customer that has used the production data received from telematics to downsize his fleet, saving significant capitalization and operating costs while maintaining production.”
Similar to 3D grade control technologies, telematics systems promise to transform the competitive landscape. “Telematics systems are going to provide the next big competitive advantage,” says Dave Augustine, equipment management, Caterpillar. But the technology is still in its infancy. “We estimate that as few as 20% of all contractors have really embraced and adopted the technology and are actively using it to improve business results.” Like any technology, there is an adoption curve.
However, unlike 3D grade control technologies, being an earlier adopter does not require a major investment. Many manufacturers include the hardware and up to a three-year free service plan with new equipment, with the cost built into the price of the machine. “Most of our medium and large size machines are factory standard with Product Link,” says Augustine.
Equipment health and asset management
There are two distinct components to telematic equipment monitoring: equipment health and asset management. “The asset management is among the most asked questions from customers,” says Augustine. Customers want to know machine location and what they are doing. Telematic equipment monitoring systems allow you to locate equipment, know what it is doing and how it is performing at any given minute.
Information gathered from your equipment can provide insight into your operation, including the health and productivity of your equipment. Working and idle hours can be tracked, along with fuel consumption, start and stop times, engine load and event diagnostic codes.
Idle time analysis is the single biggest tool people can pick up very quickly. If a machine was turned on and sat idle for two hours, you want to know why. “It keeps the machines from being under utilized,” says Chris Richardson, segment manager for VisionLink software, Trimble. If the machine is supposed to run an eight-hour shift and it is not being turned on until 9:00 a.m., you can figure out what is happening and adjust. “You can start to track a lot of details as far as really drilling down to what is actually happening.”
How much can really be saved by cutting idle time? “We have found that the average piece of construction equipment in the U.S. idles over 40%,” says Ludchak. “By using telematics, a contractor can identify which operators and machines idle excessively. Reducing idle time can significantly impact fuel costs. In addition, elimination of excessive idle time extends component life, reduces maintenance costs and reduces the company’s carbon footprint.”