The Aemp telematics standard
By Tom Jackson
The basic premise behind our Innovations Awards is to acknowledge the best in new equipment technology. But this year, for the first time in the seven years we’ve been giving these awards away, we’re honoring a software code and the collaborative effort that went into creating it, spearheaded by the Association of Equipment Management Professionals.
The AEMP telematics standard officially launched October 1, 2010. It enables equipment managers who use it in their fleet management programs to receive basic telematics data from numerous participating OEMs in a standardized format without having to retrieve and transpose that data from multiple websites.
“Ten years ago something like this didn’t have a snowball’s chance,” says Stan Orr, CAE, executive director of AEMP. But at the association’s annual meeting in the fall of 2007, members were asked to write down the top issues that were keeping them up at night. Telematics was at the top of almost everybody’s list.
“They wanted to be able to track their mixed fleets but without having to cut and paste data into their spreadsheets or enter it by hand,” Orr says. “The whole idea of having to look at a half dozen websites was just maddening to these guys.”
The time is right
A few months later at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2008, Orr and the association started talking the industry’s major players about the problem, and the timing just seemed to be right. “They certainly had to be aware of the need to do something proactive,” Orr says.
Orr got commitments from several major OEMs to at least meet and discuss the issue. The AEMP formed a committee, which met in the fall of 2008. The group discussed a variety of approaches including one where AEMP would become the keeper of the servers and all the telematics data would flow from OEMs through AEMP and then to AEMP members. That was rejected as being too unwieldy and also because the information belonged to the equipment owner and the OEM, not AEMP. But every participating manufacturer said they wanted to make the standard happen.
Six months later the committee settled on a plan to have each OEM incorporate a standard piece of code in an XML format to manage five key pieces of data including:
• basic equipment information (make, model, ID)
• cumulative operating hours
• fuel use
• distance traveled
Contractor end users likewise incorporate the same code into their fleet management programs thus insuring that the same data all comes in to the equipment managers’ programs in the same format, regardless of what brand of machine it came from.
Put customers first
“We thought it was important to work with the AEMP because they were a neutral third party representing both the manufacturers and the customers and they could be successful in bringing all the parties together,” say Ken Calvert, director of Komtrax and IT support for Komatsu and a member of the AEMP telematics committee. The standard, says Calvert, put the customer’s needs first, “and you can’t go wrong if that’s one of your main drivers.”
Over the next 18 months the code was developed and put through rigorous testing. The OEMs also had to get approval from their legal departments and upper management, says Orr. Data security was one of the concerns that had to be ironed out. “Primary to us is that the customer information is only for the customer, and AEMP easily handled any concerns we had about security,” Calvert says.
Small start with big potential
The standard doesn’t replace the more advanced OEM data feeds, and equipment managers that want more than hours and/or miles, location and fuel burned will still pull that data from individual OEM websites. But the the standard covers the 20 percent of the data that drives 80 percent of periodic fleet-level reporting needs. The theory is that once equipment managers get some experience with the basic data, then more of them will make fuller use of the more advanced, proprietary OEM programs available.
One goal for the future says Pat Crail, CEM, the fleet information manager for The John R. Jurgensen Companies, and an AEMP telematics committee member, is to develop more code that will standardize additional types of information beyond the five types covered in the current standard.
Two years ago a survey of AEMP members showed that fewer than 7 percent were importing telematics data into their equipment management programs. Thanks to the standard that’s improving. “I’m starting to hear from the manufacturers that they’re seeing a significant uptick in the use of their telematics sites because of the standard,” Orr says.
For more information on the standard and how to put it to work for you visit the AEMP website at www.aemp.org. For more on how the software code works see our article on it in the June 2010 issue of Equipment World, page 53. EW
Uncommon cooperation for the common good
What makes the AEMP telematics standard significant is not the code itself. It’s a simple program. But the fact that the AEMP could convince a handful of highly competitive equipment OEMs to voluntarily work with them on it is unprecedented – in this or any other industry.
It’s as if Apple decided to collaborate with Microsoft for the good of all computer users.
When it comes to telematics data, however, the heavy equipment industry played it smart. And in fact the OEM members of the AEMP telematics committee, including Cat, Deere, Komatsu, Volvo and Manitowoc Cranes, are to be congratulated as well for their leadership in helping to make the standard a reality.
– Tom Jackson