Translating equipment telematics data

A method to improve business efficiency
Tuesday August 18, 2015
Written by Joanna Rotter, MSI Data
Aug. 18, 2015 - For manufacturers and dealers, quality product support is becoming one of the most important after-market success drivers. With stronger service programs and more products to choose from, customers no longer want just a piece of equipment — they expect a service contract extending throughout the life of their equipment.  

In order to take advantage of their opportunity in product support and unlock the growth after the initial sale, equipment manufacturers and dealers need to provide top-notch service encounters that show customers their equipment is in good hands.

With the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and telematics, service executives and manufacturers can now take advantage of the valuable data their machines are producing. Then, they can take that influx of data to improve service performance and automate many of the tasks once done manually.

Three ways to automate equipment repair using machine data
1. Automate preventive maintenance programs — IoT sensors in equipment signal when repairs are needed before problems escalate into more expensive issues. Sensors in equipment activate a work order automatically when a part isn’t working right. The work order is generated while the system orders parts and schedules a preliminary service call. When the parts arrive, a service truck is dispatched to the site to perform any preventive maintenance tasks.

2. Analyze equipment performance — With all the data IoT sensors provide, manufacturers can analyze big data to improve business processes and ultimately impact the bottom line. Access to troves of performance information can inform equipment production best practices and guide manufacturers to establish more effective service contract sales and product-support programs.

3. Auto-inspect equipment — Self-diagnostics and reporting sensors make late or forgotten inspections a thing of the past. Instead of sending technicians into the field to conduct manual inspection, technicians can log into the equipment’s portal to inspect performance levels remotely.

Big data and telematics promise to transform service as we know it
IoT promises to be the most disruptive technological advance since the Internet itself. John Ragsdale of TSIA highlights the IoT as one of the top five areas impacting field teams: “Today’s increasingly connected technology creates opportunities for remote access, improving productivity and reducing onsite visits.”

The ability to install data-collecting sensors in your equipment can yield a huge amount of information, which, for manufacturers, can mean a total product-support redesign. Connected equipment and the influx of big data will be especially transformative when it comes to how manufacturers and dealers manage their preventive maintenance and customer loyalty programs.

“The distributors who are leading in the transition [to product-support structures] have integrated telematics into existing product-support structures,” said Rod Sutton, editorial director of Construction Equipment in his article “Plow the Field for Telematics.”

In an interview with MSI, Sutton said, “There is no doubt that telematics will revolutionize the way field service is performed. The question is: how soon and by whom? In order to deliver the quality field service required by fleets, dealers need to invest in digital infrastructure and digital talent. Caterpillar, for example, is investing heavily in so-called ‘big data’ analytics with its Innovations Labs.”

Caterpillar is a great example of how a large manufacturer is using telematics to offer detailed information about the performance and health of their equipment in the field. Telematics.com features Caterpillar’s partnership with Trimble, a navigation and fleet management provider, explaining, “The system is accessed through a common web-based user interface, VisionLink, which provides real-time information about equipment location, availability, status, machine health, fuel consumption, and productivity. Now, contractors will be able to use the Vision Link system to track machines from other brands, allowing them to obtain a holistic view of their fleet and site.”

Access to detailed equipment information through an integrated portal gives Caterpillar the ability to track data from all their equipment using standardized measurements and analytics.

Turning telematics data into dollars
There’s no denying that telematics will play a huge role in the manufacturing industry and how manufacturers engage with customers. The sooner you accept telematics as part of your business plan and get your customers on board, the sooner you can begin taking advantage of the wealth of information it produces.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) addresses this pressing topic in a recent AEM Advisor Newsletter: “One of the challenges for dealers is taking the volume of telematics information received and turning it into actionable items for customers, and just as importantly turning those actionable items into dollars for respective dealer organizations.”

Once you’ve invested in telematics technology, here are some ways you can start making the data work for you, as defined by the AEM article:

• Optimize machines for maximum performance: Monitor machines in the field and intervene when necessary to get optimal settings dialed back in.   
• Become proactive about maintenance service contracts: Telematics gives organizations the opportunity to perform proactive rather than reactive maintenance.
• Monitor how rental machines are being used: Provide accurate and timely data to customers in regards to reducing downtime and increasing productivity.
• Identify ‘cherries’ in fleets: Increase margins by getting better prices for equipment that was lightly used during rentals or has a high number of hours at idle.
• Become consultants for customers: Provide data to customers about maintenance and performance. Machines sitting on jobsites idling aren’t only burning fuel, they’re burning up warranty as well.

As equipment sensors and data intelligence become more sophisticated, insights and alerts from connected equipment and devices through the IoT will become the next standard in service. Will you have the tools at your disposal to meet that standard?

Joanna Rotter is the content marketing manager for MSI Data, creator of field service management app, Service Pro. In addition to managing the MSI blog, she has contributed dozens of articles on field service and technology topics to industry publications.

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