Tell us where it hurts

The Association of Equipment Management Professionals held it’s annual board meeting last week in a small resort in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. (If you’re not familiar with the AEMP and you manage a fleet of equipment, you’d do well to get to know them: check their offerings at

The business of the meeting was the usual stuff of budgets, plans and committees, but I like to use the social events to find out what these construction fleet managers are thinking–what’s going on in the world of yellow iron. After being inundated with press industry releases and trade show schmoozing, it’s a reality check to see what the managers of some of the country’s largest fleets think. My basic question is “tell us where it hurts, what are your biggest challenges.”

I was interested in two issues in particular: Interim Tier 4 engines and telematics. 

We had heard some grumbling earlier in the year about problems with Tier 4 engines–specifically early clogging of diesel particulate filters. Cold weather and high altitudes seemed to be the main culprits.  But the fleet managers I talked to have said that what few problems they’ve had were well taken care of by the equipment OEMs with some engine tweaks and overall, the new emissions compliant engines were up and running well. 

A bigger challenge seems to be integrating telematics systems with back office software sufficiently that fleet managers can make sense of all the data.  The feeling was that the fleet managers were getting flooded with data but having problems sorting it all out or turning it into useful metrics.  As a result a lot of them were just ignoring the data, even though it comes free for at least a few years on many new pieces of equipment.  Much to the industry’s chagrin, the  adoption of telematics by heavy equipment fleet managers remains stuck at 10 to 15 percent of potential users. 

In 2010,  AEMP  developed and launched a telematics standard to help to take data from multiple brands of equipment and put it in a format that’s equal across the board. See our report on the standard in the January 2011 issue of Equipment World. 

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And although this was a significant step towards simplifying the process, clearly more work needs to be done helping fleet managers get that final piece of the puzzle put in place. 

We know it can be done. Our Contractor the Year for 2012, Steve Cosper, CEO of Granite Contracting, figured it out and uses his telematics to drive down costs and improve efficiencies.  And there are other’s we know who have had similar success.

And if you’ve ever been to the Trimble Dimensions conference, you’d be  impressed at what some of their customers report in the various workshops held at that event.

AEMP is aware of the impasse and plans to address it in a half day educational workshop at their fall Asset Management Symposium, October 30-31, in Louisville, Kentucky.

And if you have any telematics success stories, questions or frustrations you’d like to share, send me an email at [email protected]. I’m writing an article on the topic for the August issue and welcome your insights.  Tell us where it hurts.