Improving efficiencies
By Steve Elliott
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Improving efficiencies

Technologies like telematics help better manage equipment fleets

Efficiencies and values go hand in hand in the equipment rental industry. Manufacturers strive to make equipment more efficient using technologies to improve a product’s value to the customer. Equipment rental stores use technologies to improve the bottom line.

Time is money, and keeping machines running on a job site without stops and starts can be directly related to ever-evolving technologies. The same is true for equipment rental stores when renting out a piece of machinery.

Through technology, rental houses have options to maximize return on investment (ROI). Anything from daily equipment monitoring to maintenance and theft recovery are all part of ongoing technological advances that have become more common in day-to-day operations.

More options are out there as telematics platforms improve, making for user-friendly equipment and providing rental stores with a variety of ways to manage fleets.

“Telematic technologies are evolving rapidly,” says Jamaal Crayton, senior digital strategist, Caterpillar, Deerfield, Ill. “The first generation collected and stored engine data until it was downloaded into a software app for analysis. These systems also provided access to manuals, parts books and other static data to help users service and maintain their engines.”

Crayton says current Caterpillar telematics offerings upgrade data collection to a near real-time function, providing instant data on key engine parameters to support predictive and preventative maintenance in addition to asset tracking and a number of analytic and diagnostic capabilities.

Richie Snyder, marketing manager of CE Digital and Precision Solutions & Telematics, Case Construction Equipment, Racine, Wis., says one of the struggles for rental companies is that different manufacturers have varying service intervals.

“So, if one brand of skid steer is 500 hours and another brand of skid steer is 215 hours, and yet another skid steer is 700 hours, that can be very difficult for a rental company to keep track of all of that. So, what a lot of rental companies will do is just say, ‘All skid steers per 500 hours,’ or even, ‘All machines 500 hours.’” Snyder says.

“They are missing that key cost savings of taking advantage of some of those features that certain manufacturers offer. Telematics data can show rental business owners exactly where machines are in their maintenance schedule and how many hours are on the engine in real time,” he says.

Case recently released the next generation of the company’s SiteWatch telematics platform, featuring a new dashboard, more intuitive navigation and new overview sections that spotlight critical information without requiring the user to search extensively for the data.

“We tried to make it as easy to use as possible,” Snyder says.

Patrick Baker, product manager, construction equipment, Kubota Tractor Corp., Grapevine, Texas, said as of Jan. 1, KubotaNOW telematics has been available on all new construction equipment, including skid steers, compact track loaders, excavators and wheel loaders. KubotaNOW telematics also is available on agricultural equipment and RTVs.

The program features include GPS location tracking, battery voltage, engine hours, status and rpms, fluid levels, operating temperature and error codes. Baker says these types of advancements are conducive to helping those in the equipment rental industry.

“Rental equipment takes a beating, period,” Baker says. “Rental stores who take advantage of telematics are able to track their rental machines and keep strict records of their service and maintenance schedules. Rental stores are also able to quickly identify error or fault codes to quickly troubleshoot a solution, whether that is sending a service technician to fix the machine on the job or swapping out the rental machine for another machine to keep the customer up and running.”

John Deere, Moline, Ill., also has been a technology leader. Deere offers a 4G telematics gateway on its construction equipment, enabling customers to view hundreds of data points that are available in the company’s JDLink website or mobile app.

“Through JDLink, customers can also view maintenance records and create custom maintenance plans for any of their equipment,” says James Leibold, product marketing manager for connected solutions, John Deere Construction and Forestry. “We offer a variety of tools within JDLink that help customers dissect their data into easily digestible graphs, charts and tables to ensure they have the tools to monitor their fleet’s efficiency and performance.”

Leibold says improving technologies provide a number of customer benefits for construction equipment out in the field. Customers benefit from Deere’s grade control options and safety features like enhanced object detection and avoidance capabilities.

“Their data is captured into our JDLink platform for customers to utilize to ensure they can confidently bid jobs based on true machine performance,” Leibold says.

Crayton says telematics provide a rental house with the ability to easily manage their fleets with rental cycles, managed maintenance, billing accuracy and theft recovery.

“Rental houses don’t make money when a machine isn’t working and that calculation includes a lot more than breakdowns and maintenance downtime,” Crayton says. “Every piece of equipment in a rental fleet has unique needs, schedules and use rates that need to be managed to optimize ROI and telematics are the key to reaching that goal.”

Leibold concurs that the benefits of telematics to equipment rental stores are invaluable in today’s world.

“With John Deere telematics, we give rental houses the ability to filter down data to the exact dates and times when a customer was using equipment to provide detailed machine performance, location and utilization reports for that period,” Leibold says.

New technology developments will continue, aimed at making life easier for both the user and equipment rental businesses.

“The next generation, which currently is under intensive development, will apply real-time data collection and communication to the whole machine including the engine, hydraulic and electrical systems, and operator inputs and responses,” Crayton says. “Ultimately, this data will be used to completely optimize machine performance, up to and including remote operations with or without operator input.” 

Steve Elliott

Steve ElliottSteve Elliott

Stephen Elliott is the news and products editor for Rental Management. He coordinates and produces product sections for Rental Management as well as The Hot List: New Products at the Show supplement. In addition, he researches, writes and edits management and other feature articles for Rental Management and Rental Pulse, and maintains regular contact with manufacturers and suppliers. He enjoys spending time with his family and working in his garden.

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