Technology Summit Set

By Staff | September 28, 2010

AEMP will host the industry's first-ever Technology Summit August 6-7 in Chicago. All major OEMs who have responded to invitations will be a part of the Summit, including Caterpillar, John Deere, Komatsu, Volvo, and Manitowoc. The goal of the AEMP Board is to begin a dialogue with the OEMs, followed by future meetings that will include software providers.

AEMP's Board believes there is an “Equipment Triangle” solution to the challenges of integrating OEM technologies. This issue is one of six critical industry and association issues that the AEMP Board is currently addressing through its strategic planning work, which resulted in the creation of a special task force made up of industry-leading end users. They developed the following white paper as a means to begin meaningful dialogue. Members are urged to visit the association's web site at www.aemp.org for updates on this emerging critical issue.

Executive Summary

Today's asset manager is increasingly required to enhance the productivity of his company's equipment, with less downtime, lower cost of ownership, and extended machine life for his/her mixed fleet being a requisite for success. To assist the end user, the major manufacturers have each developed robust technology solutions that assist in the management of their respective equipment. These technology solutions include Product Link for Caterpillar; JDLink for John Deere; Komtrax/ VHMS for Komatsu; and CareTrack for Volvo.

The diverse nature of these databases and info sources makes integration into a single fleet management or business enterprise software a daunting challenge to say the least. The implications of easily integrated equipment data are dramatic with cost savings, and thus the potential for increased profitability, achievable at almost every step in the equipment's life cycle. No matter what the fleet size, whether using a standalone or enterprise system, timely retrieval and integration make for better informed decision making.

The Issue

Today's construction fleets are almost exclusively mixed OEMs. As a result, the equipment manager's tracking of the entire fleet in a uniform, integrated manner is virtually impossible to do effectively and efficiently because of the diversity of the sources storing equipment information.

The Task Force has discussed the issue extensively and believes there are opportunities for discussion to find solutions. There are however, many obstacles to overcome:

OEMs have invested considerable resources in their respective technologies. To ask OEMs to redesign their existing hardware and software is not a viable option.

Currently, fragmented information from diverse sources provided by separate web-based servers or stand-alone software provide little or no provision to import data into end users fleet management software or enterprise system software.

Asset managers have different needs for integration, and OEMs likely have varying opinions on what can be shared if compatibility issues were to be resolved. In order to look at the scope of the problem, an in-depth discussion of the data streams involved in modern fleet management is important. A common but by no means all-inclusive list of data streams would be as follows:

  • Location
  • Hour/mileage info
  • Run time versus idle time
  • Production or cycle time info
  • Machine health info
  • Availability info
  • Fuel consumption
  • PM compliance info
  • Emissions information

As the potential for technology evolves, other data streams that might be added could be:

  • Work order and repair info
  • Oil sampling database
  • Parts management database
  • Tire management database
  • Cost summary and asset management history
  • Fuel management database
  • Regulatory compliance database and reporting
  • Other telematics info
  • Payroll info

There is no standardized file format currently being used by the OEMs. For example, fuel usage might be coded “fuel consumption” in one program, “use of fuel” in another, and “fuel used” in yet another.

There is no Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) format standard, either. Standard file formats are simple text files where all data is always located in the same position in the file. Widespread adoption of a standard file format would certainly help solve this problem. An example of file format standardization would be the U.S. banking industry's adoption of the “NACHA” file format for ACH direct deposits (see www.nacha.org). A less desirable alternative is the release of APIs. Although helpful, this solution still necessitates more advanced IT resources to work with such data.

Asset managers use a variety of fleet-management or enterprise software programs that are not often compatible with OEM software or difficult to integrate.

Recommendation

The cornerstone of AEMP is the Equipment Triangle, the relationship of manufacturer, dealer and end-user as a value-added proposition with each leg adding value to the other. This triangle approach certainly applies to addressing the issue facing the industry in this regard. AEMP's hope is to provide the framework by identifying the problem and working with the manufacturers and vendors and their dealers to propose standards for ease of integration for the end-users benefit.

The purpose of the Chicago Technology Summit on August 6 and 7 is to openly discuss the challenges facing asset managers and conduct dialogue on ways this issue could be addressed by end users, the OEMs, and technology vendors in the spirit of AEMP's Equipment Triangle philosophy. The desired outcome would be to develop some initial consensus on what might be done, how such a product might look, and how it might be developed and implemented. Armed with that information, the industry representatives could then go back to their respective organizations to determine interest and feasibility.

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