Three Questions With...Tom Trone, Director, John Deere WorkSight Solutions

Nov. 24, 2012

Another in a series of byte-sized one-on-one visits with construction industry insiders. We caught up with Trone at AEMP's recent Asset Management Symposium.

Another in a series of byte-sized one-on-one visits with construction industry insiders. We caught up with Trone at AEMP's recent Asset Management Symposium. [Deere's WorkSight is an integrated suite of technology solutions for business optimization, consisting of four technologies: JDLink machine monitoring system, Fleet Care proactive machine health program, the Service Advisor Remote function that allows Deere dealers to connect remotely to Deere machines, grade control, and payload weighing.]

1. It’s evident from attending gatherings like AEMP that there’s a lot of data available, but people are using bits and pieces—how is the adoption of WorkSight technology going?

Customers are starting to get it. Other things in their lives, smartphones, iPads, make them look at technology differently. They’re saying, “It’s not as scary as I thought.” They see that if they use only the simplest components of WorkSight, they can save more money and be more efficient. The (customer) segments make all the difference. Our large, mixed-fleet multi-geographical customers see sophisticated telematics as an enabler in the beginning; then they integrate the data into their own management systems. We’re seeing independent rental companies that are first only interested in asset management through location data now wanting maintenance data because their customers are asking for it. A third segment, those with medium-scale machines, maybe 10-50 pieces, will use data tactically to reduce costs, looking in spots at utilization and fuel efficiency. It’s gained early traction for them, but not broadly. They’re first seeing what simple elements of data can do for them.

2. How are you rolling WorkSight out?

I’ve been charged with building a new organization within Deere. It consists of a team of technical field consultants to drive awareness, adoption and value, working with their sales and customer counterparts out in the field. We’re not only building this organization as a commitment to the end customer, but we also realize that it goes across product categories. We’re training dealers, not unlike we did with Tier 4 technology. There is a WorkSight “champion” at each dealership, making sure the knowledge is integrated to the staff. We will keep WorkSight in Deere dealerships because they know our customers best and have long relationships; we will not be establishing any separate distribution, such as SITECH. [Trimble's global distribution network for its construction technology/machine control systems.]

3. What about contractor concerns about their data being too accessible to an OEM?

I don’t think that’s a problem. We use data to improve our machines for customers and reduce warranty costs.

Others in our series:

Dan Miller, president & CEO, Manitou Americas (Gehl/Mustang)

Dennis Sullivan, corporate equipment manager for Sunland Construction.

About the Author

Frank Raczon

Raczon’s writing career spans nearly 25 years, including magazine publishing and public relations work with some of the industry’s major equipment manufacturers. He has won numerous awards in his career, including nods from the Construction Writers Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and BtoB magazine. He is responsible for the magazine's Buying Files.