AEMP’s fall symposium: Telematics finally gets the jump-start it’s been needing

Dave Gorski, CEM, and shop administrator for K-Five Construction, gives a presentation at the 2014 AEMP Asset Management Symposium.Dave Gorski, CEM, and shop administrator for K-Five Construction, gives a presentation at the 2014 AEMP Asset Management Symposium.

If you weren’t there, I’m sorry to say, but you missed it.

What was “it?”

It was the feeling of 300 light bulbs going off above 300 people’s heads at the Association of Equipment Management Professionals 2014 Asset Management Symposium. Held in Nashville, Tennessee, November 3-5, the theme for this year’s symposium was: Telematics: driving adoption through technology.

What the some 300 attendees heard that created so many of those light-bulb moments was a succession of fleet managers, construction executives, equipment dealers, OEMs, technology vendors and experts giving presentations on how telematics works today and the promise it holds for tomorrow.

I’ve sat through a lot of telematics presentations before and, truth be told, they can get a little dull. Not so this time. Thanks to the passion, experience and diversity of the presenters, a lot of the conventional wisdom about telematics was stood on its head. A lot of the excuses fleet managers and contractors use to avoid telematics were demolished.

We’ve already reported on the first two of these sessions: Evolution of equipment managers, past, present and future and Using telematics data to achieve competitive advantage, and in the weeks to follow we’ll have more. Additionally, you’ll want to keep your eye on AEMP’s 2015 Spring conference, which will be held March 17-19 in Orlando, Florida.

But what this year’s sessions seemed to signify is that the heavy equipment industry has finally turned a corner. In a way the symposium reminded me of the late 1990’s. Back then I thought digital technology had reached its peak with the release of Windows 97 and Microsoft Office. I had word processing, a spreadsheet program, and email. Who could ask for anything more?

But in 1997 Steve Jobs rejoined Apple. In 1998 Google was launched. The iPod debuted in 2001 and the iPhone in 2007. And we were all off to the races.

This summer after visiting Kenworth in Seattle I decided to do some hiking on Mt. Rainier. On my way to the mountain I stopped at two gas stations and a CVS to get a local map, but none was to be found. In frustration I finally called up Siri on my iPhone and told her to take me to Mt. Rainier. She did, giving me perfect turn-by-turn directions. That evening Siri took me back to Sea-Tac Airport, which would have been dicey had I been forced to pull over every few miles to check my progress against a paper map.

Pretty soon you have to decide if you’re the kind of fleet manager or contractor who prefers folded paper maps (metaphorically speaking) or the ease, efficiency and speed of digital technology. If you’re new to telematics, or you’re having trouble building a case for telematics, AEMP is the best place to start.