Telematics has been a prominent technology for the construction industry for years now. But the push for its use in the rental market has been lacking. This seems to be changing, especially after the rapid shift to digital and technological processes that many companies encountered from the pandemic.
Recently, a report from IntelliShift called, “The 2021 State of Connected Operations Report: Customer Insights and Trends,” highlighted how successful implementation of technologies like telematics translate to increased safety, efficiency, productivity, and cost-savings for the companies that use them.
The report shared how 90 percent of respondents say these platforms allow them to focus their time on other tasks to improve the company’s bottom line, with 80 percent indicating they have seen increased return on investment in the technology. And according to the report, 78 percent indicated they have more visibility into fleet operations now that they are using the platform, while 38 percent have greater visibility into safety and 33% into maintenance.
With benefits like theft prevention, asset recovery and location, equipment utilization (including fuel consumption, idle time, machine health, etc.), maintenance, optimized fleet operations, tracking usage for improved billing, and more, it’s no wonder telematics technologies are being utilized more and more by rental houses.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the latest telematics products and solutions from companies around the industry. We’ve also asked a few of them for more insight into how telematics helps rental business owners and what’s next in terms of innovation.
Appareo Asset Tracker AT-130
AppareoThe Appareo Asset Tracker AT-130 is a low-cost, cellular, IP69K-rated asset tracking device with ultra-long battery life and industrial operating temperature range (-40ºC to +85 ºC). The IP69K rating certifies its ability to withstand an 80ºC pressure wash at close distance, making this tracker uniquely suited for industrial applications. Battery life is impacted by the frequency with which the device reports its position. If the AT-130 tracker reports its position once per day and occasionally also reports its position on demand (e.g. because of a message from a user’s web or mobile application demanding a position update), a customer could expect the battery to last more than five years. With lower-frequency reporting, the AT-130 battery could last even longer.
"Rental business owners who have their tracking software provider integrate the AT-130 can enable confident, on-demand location finding over a many years period,” says David Batcheller, president and CBO, Appareo. “This tracker allows on-demand or scheduled visibility to rental assets with rugged IP69K-rated construction and American-made quality. With rugged packaging and a long battery life, the AT-130 is ideal for locating assets operating in rough environments like a construction site.”
DPL Telematics AssetView Tracking System
DPL TelematicsThe portable AssetView series is, according to the company, the industry's smallest battery powered GPS tracking solution for wireless monitoring of any asset to improve logistics, manage inventory, and curb theft. The innovative, self-contained GPS tracking solution installs in seconds, requires no external power, and can last years on "off the shelf" batteries. Its proprietary Adaptive Tracking delivers long battery life while actively alerting on curfew violation, movement, or geofence breach as well as allowing the user to switch to “Recovery Mode” over the air. The AssetView is waterproof and has no long-term contract so customers can deactivate and reactivate without penalty.
“If you are a rental house, there's never been a better time to begin deploying GPS tracking and telematics. Like all technology, the solutions available have become smaller, more powerful, and more affordable,” says Tony Nicoletti, VP of business development, DPL Telematics. “Whether your need is theft protection, improved billing, vehicle tracking, or just keeping an eye on your assets, there is a product for every application and budget.”
Geotab GO9 RUGGED Product
GeotabGeotab launched the GO9 RUGGED solution. This new hardware is designed to better withstand harsh conditions such as extreme temperatures, precipitation, and dirt with the added benefit of providing the same advanced GPS technology as the traditional GO9 device. With the GO9 RUGGED, fleets can be seamlessly managed in a single platform, allowing for greater visibility and enhanced efficiencies. By providing increased durability in the harshest of conditions, this upgrade provides businesses with confidence that their fleet and business operations can resume at optimal performance no matter what the device and vehicle encounter. The GO9 RUGGED telematics device also allows users to access critical data insights and business intelligence for increased uptime and efficiency, enhanced safety, and reduced fuel and maintenance costs.
“For rental companies, protecting their equipment and vehicles is a top priority. Fortunately, advanced telematics can help these businesses easily monitor where these important assets are and where they’ve been, as well as help in recovery effort, if necessary,” says Steven Berube, senior business development manager, off road and vocational, Geotab. “In the case of our Geotab GO9 RUGGED telematics device --- which is ideal for equipment rental applications since it can withstand harsh weather and external conditions --- we provide businesses with confidence that their fleet operations can resume at optimal performance no matter the location or condition.”
GPS InsightWhat benefits do telematics solutions offer rental business owners?
Telematics solutions can streamline vehicle and asset maintenance. Service managers can schedule and prepare for annual inspections, oil changes, and preventative maintenance. By geofencing jobsites and yards, managers can be alerted if an asset is operating or moved during off-hours. This allows rental businesses to monitor when assets are not where they are supposed to be and increases the likelihood that they will be recovered in the case of misuse or theft.
How can these solutions aid in things like compliance and accountability?
By adding easy-to-use electronic inspection reporting, you can include simple steps like circle of safety (asset walk around) and safety inspection (wheels, wipers, etc.) before each asset is turned on. If an operator finds something unusual, they can take a picture directly through their mobile device in the app to send that image to the service manager for their records.
What's the next big innovation for telematics in the coming years?
Video telematics has changed tremendously and will continue to evolve over the coming years. Smart cameras that use AI and computer vision will revolutionize how companies utilize video to improve safety for their drivers and lower their risk.
Proemion's Mixed Fleet Solution
ProemionProemion's Mixed Fleet solution seamlessly aggregates all your assets’ data, no matter the telematics or loT solution they rely on, into a single platform. The platform allows your team to access data from multiple interfaces in a consistent way. You can access data from our web portal, mobile app, rest APIs, and data pumps.
Proemion's Mixed Fleet platform also has built-in features specifically for rental companies:
- Locates assets in real-time, preventing theft and ensuring your equipment is where it’s intended to be.
- Offers preventive maintenance, automatically tracking which machines need servicing, and notifying your team of all upcoming services that need to be planned. Minimize the risk of a machine breaking down at the customer's site or having to wait longer than necessary for service because a specific spare part was not available.
- Offers reporting based on rental contracts, allowing your team to collect evidence of machine usage, such as operating hours, fuel consumed, and distance traveled, to prepare invoices for your customers.
“With our telematics solution for mixed fleets, we make machines and assets of a mixed-branded fleet visible and locatable giving the machine owners a tool with which they can lift their company to a new level,” says Robert Michaelides Jr., COO, Proemion.
Webfleet Solutions North America Answers by Matthew Gunzenhaeuser, sales director, USA
What role can telematics play in equipment rental?
Webfleet Solutions North AmericaIn general, telematics data helps customers make better business decisions based on data insights, which can increase fleet efficiency, safety, and sustainability. Telematics technology can not only support companies to better manage their fleet of vehicles, but also — with the Asset Tracking solution, for example — gives them complete visibility over the position and usage of their powered assets that they rent to the market. Companies can reduce loss and theft by keeping their high value assets visible with accurate GPS positioning, utilization, reporting, and more. Managing assets and vehicles on one platform can be simple and cost-effective.
What benefits do these solutions offer to rental business owners?
Maintaining company assets in a single user interface helps maintain their security, value, and effectiveness. The user can find out the location of each asset in seconds, whether it’s on-site or off. Customers can also choose to be alerted when an asset is being used, when it leaves a designated area, or when any motion is detected. Notifications can also be setup to alert the user when maintenance is required, which helps preserve the value of the asset.
What's one feature of telematics solutions that's a "must-have" for rental business owners?
Our Asset Tracking solution provides a host of functionalities that enable fleet managers and business owners to get the most value and productivity out of their assets. This can make a tangible impact in the reduction of unnecessary costs and optimize processes for better business results. In my opinion, one of the most interesting features for rental business owners would be the reporting that provides a clear overview of an assets usage, including total trip information (start/end/standstill/down-time) and engine hour information for increased efficiency of rental billing, regular book-keeping, and maintenance management.
What's next for telematics in the coming years? What does the future hold?
We all know that our world and industry are rapidly transforming. The impact of COVID-19 continues to accelerate digital adoption across almost all sectors and markets. Evolving telematics technology is at the heart of this trend, becoming increasingly vital for managing fleets efficiently and promoting green and safe driving. So, investing in a technology based around creating a safer experience to reduce incidents is critical – with artificial intelligence and machine learning playing a vital role.
Also, the focus on more sustainable mobility will be more and more important. Already today, our telematics technology supports electric vehicles and the fleet electrification journey, with more new features coming in the next few months. Further smart telematics innovations will be brought to market, bringing together the joint connected capabilities of Bridgestone and Webfleet Solutions to deliver cost-saving efficiency improvements to business fleets.
How do telematics solutions aid rental business owners?
The simplest way to analyze how telematics solutions can benefit rental businesses is to look at it from a top-level perspective. Ultimately, the outcomes linked to the use of telematics affect a business, or a customer in only three ways through an increase in: productivity, revenue, and safety. But shouldn’t efficiency, cost savings, uptime, waste, customer experience, performance, and cost savings also be considered? Yes, these are all related to revenue and productivity.
What benefits can they offer that people might not consider?
ZTR TelematicsA significant opportunity that more rental companies should take advantage of relates to delivering enhanced customer experiences. It’s clear that having a responsive and intuitive service call to support on-site equipment minimizes customer downtime, and this can influence future rental decisions. Using a telematics platform also makes it easy to offer visibility and share access with customers, so that they can make on/off rent decisions by being able to see machine usage.
What things should business owners consider when purchasing telematics solutions?
Companies continually face new market forces related to digitization. “Customer expectations have changed, and so, too, have the competitive landscapes and executive expectations needed to support that evolution. It's no longer an option to digitize. And whatever the company size, large or small, the benefits and outcomes related to data and connectivity are absolutely essential to stay relevant and competitive,” says ZTR Professional Services Director Dan Yarmoluk.
As companies consider their own evolution, it’s important to seek supportive partnerships that simplify the process. Committing to telematics technology is not just a one-time purchase decision. Buying telematics is buying ‘change’ because it’s something that integrates business with processes and people. Simply getting started is the key.
What's new and exciting from ZTR?
Last year, ZTR unveiled its Access Management solution. Customers are standardizing this solution to elevate worksite safety, productivity, and profit through controlled access to rented equipment. Enhanced machine data and machine control is driving the future of the industrial IoT.
ZTR also recently complimented its T-Series Bluetooth tag solution with two new offerings, the G210 portable and G200 fixed gateways, which enable continuous surveillance of the ‘last-seen’ location of T-series tagged assets in rental yards and on jobsites. The solution transforms the way tools, accessories and attachments can be managed by reducing rental company and customer costs, and increasing productivity in the yard and on site.