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Construction : Special Focus | December 2017 | Source : Equipment India

Less investment, More benefits

Telematics in construction equipment is such a technology that costs less on investment, but more in returns.

Telematics is important for effectively monitoring the equipment fleet in its operation and maintenance. Work on Internet of Things (IoT) platform, Telematics provides information about the location, fuel, maintenance, and all other parameters which can be accessed remotely on a smart phone, tablet or laptop.

Sachin Nijhawan, Vice President and Business Head, Mahindra Construction Equipment, elaborates, 'Telematics is a method of monitoring a vehicle. By combining a GPS and GPRS system with on-board vehicle electrical system it's possible to record - and map - exactly where a vehicle is, what the system parameters are and how fast it's traveling, driver behaviour, and cross reference that with how a vehicle is behaving internally.'

Technology for today, tomorrow
Telematics enables the operator, owner, dealer and the OEM be connected on the same network and track the machine on what is happening in the machine. This increases the uptime of the machine. With Telematics, the machine is more efficient and operators are more at ease.

Dimitrov Krishnan, Vice President and Head, Volvo CE India, says, 'At Volvo CE, we are well-known for bringing the latest technologies and innovations to this industry, allowing customers to get better productivity, reliability and efficiency from their operations. It is clear that connectivity in construction equipment will grow in future and it's actually something we already offer as a manufacturer in the form of our CareTrack package.'

Telematics solutions from OEMs
Major equipment OEMs offer Telematics solution either a standard feature or optional package with their machines. Says Nijhawan on Mahindra's offer on its Telematics solution DiGiSENSE, 'Our Telematics system is equipped with GPS module. This enables customer/service team to know the location of vehicles when needed. This helps to communicate more effectively with its drivers and customer. Telematics system is integrated with vehicle electronics to capture and report the vehicle health as well as key parameters like fuel quantity and coolant temperature. User-friendly web portal and android app allows customer/owner to monitor and limit machine operating regions. It also logs the usage and productivity. Service reminders are sent at right time by monitoring the machine usage thus increasing the machine uptime.' Krishnan elaborates on Volvo's solution, 'CareTrack is a telematics system that gives equipment owners access to a wide range of machine monitoring information that can help save time and money. The system generates a wide range of reports with data on aspects such as fuel consumption, operational hours, geographical location and more. These reports are available via a web portal or can be received via SMS or email alerts.'

According to him, CareTrack can also be used to manage machine servicing and wear parts. This allows fleet managers to reduce fuel costs, optimise machine and operator performance, as well as proactively manage service and maintenance to maximise uptime.

Telematics: An investment
The prime benefit to customers on using Telematics is real-time monitoring of equipment fleet on various parameters, which leads to increased productivity and lower operational cost. Says Nijhawan, 'DiGiSENSE will help the construction equipment business reap huge benefits such as improved productivity and reduced operating costs. Construction equipment are extremely expensive machines and many times rented out or sent with a driver. For this business, it is extremely useful to know asset vital parameters such as machine idling time because it precisely tells you how long the machine has not been operational but not productive.'

Customer approach towards modern technology solutions such as Telematics is gradually changing as they are now more aware and interested in using the technology. Says Krishnan, 'Customers say they like the insight CareTrack provides, which supports them with maintenance, invoicing, fleet management and operator training. With CareTrack, customers can monitor load efficiency, number of cycles, overload percentages and identify operator training needs. For example, CareTrack can tell owners what time the machine operation starts, takes a break, and ends. What's more, CareTrack allows owners to tap into a wealth of actionable data including fuel consumption, idle time, machine location, fluid levels and service alerts.'

Cost vs operational benefit
OEMs highlight that compared to the cost of the basic machine, the cost of Telematics is negligible while the benefit is huge. According to Nijhawan, the cost increase due to inclusion of features such as Telematics is minimal compared to the cost of the basic machine. But the functions and features it offers outperform the cost increase. 'This will definitely have positive sales figures,' he asserts. 'With the time and labour savings CareTrack offers, customers say they view it as an investment rather than extra costs,' says Krishnan.

Ease of operation
Though Telematics is a technologically superior solution, it is not a complicated function as even people not having a high level of formal education are able to use Telematics technologies. Says Nijhawan, 'There are no additional controls to operator due to the Telematics inclusion. Now his work is reduced as reporting vehicle performance and fuel requirement is now done by our DiGiSENSE. Operator manual guides in detail the way owner logs on web portal. The very user-friendly Mobile app is also available for the users.'

According to Krishnan, Volvo provides basic training and familiarisation of the pack. 'Adequate training and familiarisation programmes are set up for dealers and customers. This is of course if they opt for Caretrack along with the machines,' he adds.

Telematics in future
Going forward, it is very important for the people to be connected with the machines, considering the way projects are growing. Nijhawan adds, 'This feature will become a standard fitment by all OEMs and must have for the customer. These units are already influencing financial institutes and insurance companies during loan processing as it will help them to trace the vehicle in case of default.'

Krishnan comments on the future trend of using Caretrack solution, 'As owners are pushed to deliver more with less, CareTrack is a great way to proactively manage machines and increase uptime by planning service and maintenance requirement in advance, avoiding potential problems. It's also possible for Volvo CE dealers to troubleshoot faults remotely├╣minimising service and downtime.'

According to Nijhawan, there are a number of new features being added to improve the machine uptime and include prognostics. Looking forward, the future will definitely have end-to-end machine communication. On a positive note, we expect all the machines be interconnected soon. The efficiency and productivity will be dependent on the machine-to-machine communications. In this scenario, Telematics is to grow further.

- Sudheer Vathiyath

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