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Telematics is certainly not new and heavy equipment owners have leveraged data from their machines for decades. However, accessing the data in real-time with easy installation minimal to zero hardware costs and a single source of truth has been lagging. Even if you are dedicated CAT dealer, leveraging VisionLink for daily runtime hours, location, fuel level, odometer and fault codes, the costs can be high and there is a strong likelihood of other equipment existing in your fleet, from generators to air compressors, even lifts and cranes.
So how do you select a telematics provider? Follow these best practices that reflect today's market and you'll reduce overall costs and have confidence in a longer term partnership with the vendor.
1. Who Owns the Hardware?
There are two consideration to this question. Firstly, are you buying devices and sensors upfront or are they considered part of your software subscription? Many telematics providers partner with 3rd party hardware providers like Digital Matter or CalAmp and provision these devices on their platform. The vendors upfront costs to acquire and provision devices on their platform is passed to you, the customer.
With advancements in technology today happening at lightning speed, the device you just installed on a piece of equipment is already replaceable with a new and improved version on the market. Being stuck with outdated hardware or having to replace devices because you switched telematics providers is not ideal either. My advice. Make sure the hardware is included in your subscription.
Secondly. Who owns the hardware?!! If the vendor is not designing and engineering the device or sensor, ask who manages the device. What happens when that device stops calling home, goes offline, or fails? Can the telematics provider troubleshoot the device or are they reliant on the hardware vendor? Who is responsible for the device software (firmware) and security? Just a small disconnect between a software vendor and the silent hardware provider can cause major disruptions in service to an end customer. The leading vendors are those bringing a complete solution to market, hardware, device management, applications and an open architecture for APIs to consolidate multiple data sources.
3. Are You on the Hook for Installation?
Hard wiring devices and sensors to machines has been common place and continues to be so. In some cases this continues to be necessary to capture diagnostic codes and real-time fuel levels, for example. Many equipment owners are more than capable of handling installation, but it can be complex and often requires a third party installation vendor to wire, test, provision and activate a device. This can be time consuming and costly depending on the size and location of your fleet.
Therefore, look for newer, more revolutionary devices that use machine vibrations to finger print a machine type and that self-calibrate using accelerometers and altimeters. These sensors are in their infancy and battery innovations make such devices much more viable than ever before. This option eliminates installation costs and scheduling. Instead you are self-installing in minutes.
2. Are you Buying an App, Dashboards and Maps or a Solution?
It is easy to lead the selection process with cost as the driver, but you have to look beyond cost and consider what you are getting from this vendor in the long term (assuming they are around for the long term).
Basic entry level applications exist on the market and depending on your size and type of fleet some may be viable options for your business. We can consider these vendors your Bronze solution in this discussion.
The next level telematics providers deliver a more complete offering with deep rich functionality for fleet management, asset intelligence and maybe even safety and compliance or field service functions. They are dedicated software vendors, but reliant on hardware partners and lacking a foundation of device management. These vendors we can consider your Silver solutions.
Owners of heavy equipment fleets and cranes are seeking fully fledged solutions to manage their ecosystem of what has become 'non-actionable' siloed data and want a central telematics solution that can also integrate with other operating systems and OEM telematics from the likes of CAT, JD, and Komatsu. Telematics solutions built using IoT platforms, leveraging advanced sensor technology and APIs are bring about the necessary change to deliver equipment owners and renters a single view of actionable insights across their entire mixed asset fleet.
Now, as a construction company or equipment renter you can begin to make sense of everything you own and rent, and deliver a connected customer experience for all, minimizing utilization disputes and maximizing productivity and revenue.
A leading provider to keep an eye on in the telematics space is MachineMax.
MachineMax has been created by a dedicated team of engineers, scientists, designers and construction professionals based in London, UK. Backed by Royal Dutch Shell, BCG Digital Ventures and B Capital Group.
I love their hardware innovation, self installation and calibration with full backend device management (IoT platform) and their collaboration with customers to develop a complete equipment management platform to enable machine owners and renters full visibility across their entire mixed asset fleet regardless of the OEM. Learn more and schedule a call with their team https://machinemax.com/pages/request-a-trial