Bob Emerrson, in a blog post titled “Enabling the IoT Vision,” suggests that telematics is but a stepping stone to the full service that end-users will eventually enjoy from the technology. IoT, the Internet of Things, is a concept playing out in smart cars and smart houses, where sensors communicate with applications that either control other things or give the users opportunity to make choices about those things.
It’s machine-to-machine (M2M) communication with minimal human interaction.
Emerrson’s future exists in a “services-centric” environment, a future that looks awfully similar to one equipment managers face. Sensors on construction equipment collect data; moving that data into applications that facilitate asset-management decisions is today’s environment. Successful managers will figure out how to access the most beneficial data and act on this information in a timely manner.
Two paths to the future are visible today: Equipment fleets develop their own applications, or they turn over the application function to someone else. Equipment dealers and third-party collectors are options at this point in time.
Equipment manufacturers want their dealers to step up and provide this service. Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar’s CEO, says Cat dealers—and, by extension, all dealers—can provide the data-management services if they have two resources: talent that knows how to handle data and the systems to manage and manipulate machine data. Third-party collectors can enable fleet-management decisions by aggregating data from various individual telematics sources.
In Emerrson’s scenario of the Internet of Things, barriers between application and data “silos” are broken down via “open architecture,” allowing various applications to not only share data but also enable and automate some actions based on user preferences. An example in the construction equipment world would be a machine’s fuel-burn sensor activating a work order for scheduled preventive maintenance through the fleet’s maintenance shop or its dealership. As the work order is generated, the parts are ordered and a prelimary service call scheduled. When the parts arrive, a service truck is dispatched to the site to perform the PM. At no point would human interaction be required.
In a service-centric environment, Emerrson sums up, the IoT takes the benefits of M2M communication and fully realizes the potential for automated service. The world of equipment management fits nicely into that scenario. Maintenance management takes up less time, freeing the manager to focus on the financial benefits of proper asset management of a capital-intensive fleet of machines.