The Future of Telematics

The Future of Telematics

March 1, 2013

You’ve likely heard someone say, “Don’t like the weather? Wait 10 minutes, it’ll change.”

The same might be said of telematics technology. As if telematics doesn’t give equipment managers enough to think about, OEMs and aftermarket suppliers are constantly upgrading capabilities and looking into providing more.

They’re not doing it just to mess with you. They’re listening to your suggestions.

“We hear many requests,” says Ken Calvert, Komatsu’s director, machine support systems. “Things such as streaming pictures from the job site, allowing operators to identify themselves through the control panels, the ability to input results from machine walk-around inspections, whether or not the seatbelt is fastened on time, even the number of times the cab door is opened.”

What’s next, an onboard weighing system for air-suspension seats? (“Wow, looks like Carl had too long a lunch!”)

Kidding aside, are manufacturers spending too much time at the equipment data buffet? Will managers’ heads eventually explode?

I think not. The important thing is that providers are asking the right questions, all the way down to what appears on the nitty-gritty reports.

“As I go out, I learn more about what customers want, and I always try to come back and see if I can apply that to CareTrack,” says Bill Sauber, manager for remote technology, with Volvo Construction Equipment. “I almost always shoot off an e-mail to our development folks saying ‘this is another report we could add,’ or ‘change the way this is laid out to provide better, more accurate information.’”

Telematics user Michael Brennan, CEM, fleet manager, Manatee County, Fla., told me he thinks the future will involve remote diagnostics and machine intervention happening from afar, as it does with on-road trucks. Well, that future is now. It’s part of John Deere’s WorkSight concept. Changes can come about so quickly, it’s hard to keep track.

Sauber describes what might be called the OEMs’ gatekeeper role, and it makes all the sense in the world: “I think as manufacturers, we need to continue to study what is important, and as we’re teaching folks how to use the information, encourage them to limit what they’re asking for—don’t just ask for everything we can give—but ask for the things they think are important. The things that will hurt them if they don’t know them, or that will help them if they do.”

Calvert also sums it up nicely. “The future direction of telematics will be based on adding features that will put owners closer to their workplace, regardless of their location.”

What features will put you closer (and better connect you) to your workplace? Drop us a line with your suggestions.