Heavy construction and mining equipment is going online, thanks to M2M apps and the Internet of Things. Although the penetration of telematics in the industry on the whole remains low, operators are gradually beginning to realize the benefits as more and more OEMs include telematics solutions as standard in their vehicles.
Most heavy-duty vehicle operators cite the tracking capability of their telematics systems as providing the most immediate initial benefit to their businesses, as it helps to reduce vehicle theft and misuse, thus reducing insurance premiums.
But telematics can also promote better machine utilization, reduction in fuel consumption, and enable more efficient maintenance and repair schedules.
Additionally, it can help fleet operators with safety compliance by enabling them to control site access and observe noise limit requirements through the use of the geo-fence and time-fence features of their telematics systems.
Most construction fleets are mixed fleets comprising vehicles from different OEMs and often include on-road vehicles in addition to off-road vehicles.
Although many OEMs have implemented telematics solutions in their machines and vehicles, all these systems are different and mostly incompatible with each other. As a result, standardization continues to be a key problem holding back the adoption of telematics in the construction equipment sector.
"As construction fleets adopt telematics, fleet operators are increasingly demanding more standardization, easier interfacing, and a single-source site for all OEM API data," said Gareth Owen, principal analyst at ABI Research.
"Some progress has been made in recent years with OEMs such as Caterpillar, Komatsu, Volvo, and John Deere working with aftermarket suppliers such as Navman Wireless and industry bodies to develop standard APIs for some of the basic data such as vehicle identification, location, and hours of use.
Some operators, such as rental fleet companies, are also calling for standardization of more advanced data feeds such as geo-fencing, immobilization, safety devices and alerts, and no doubt this will follow,” adds Owen.
Recently, Caterpillar announced that it and long-term partner Trimble have developed a brand agnostic fleet management and site productivity solutions platform designed for contractors with mixed equipment fleets.
The two companies have for many years been operating a telematics network for construction fleets via a joint-venture company. Clearly, there's a potential upside growth opportunity for M2M service providers that can demonstrate meaningful domain expertise in this area.