Why most contractors don’t use telematics and how AEMP and AEM are trying to change that

Updated Aug 22, 2013

telematicsOne of the biggest and most confounding challenges in the heavy equipment industry is how to get more construction companies to use telematics to monitor and manage their fleets.

The technology is well established and the ROI well proven, yet surveys continue to find only a small percentage of contractors using the technology.

The Association of Equipment Management Professionals and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers each formed a task force this year to find a solution that would increase that participation rate.  Earlier this month, the two task forces met in Chicago and agreed to work together to produce an industry telematics data standard with the potential of reporting up to 100+ data points on machine location, health and operating parameters.

As part of the new initiative, AEMP is finalizing in-depth surveys of its members to determine what their needs and concerns are and what sorts of roadblocks are preventing construction companies from embracing the new technology. Stan Orr, president of AEMP, noted that for heavy equipment fleet managers, the survey results reveal three key points.

Fleet managers don’t like going to multiple websites to collect data.

First, many fleet managers don’t feel like they have the knowledge or numbers to make a sound business case for an investment in telematics, Orr says. They need the facts and figures to take to their company owners to prove the ROI.

Second is education, Orr says. “There is still a strong need for an educational component from organizations like AEMP and AEM to help people understand what they can use telematics for, why it’s valuable and why they should be using it.”

The third concern, Orr says, is that the data is scattered. Fleet managers don’t like going to multiple websites to collect data, which is why an industry-wide standard for each of the data points is crucial. “Different manufacturers have different ways of measuring the same thing,” he says. This makes it difficult for companies with mixed fleets to compile standardized, fleet-wide information, and to integrate the telematics data feed with different back office and maintenance programs.

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Manufacturers have the additional need to protect certain proprietary types of information about their machines and to guard against other parties aggregating data about their machines.

In 2010, AEMP, along with key OEM partners, developed and launched a telematics standard that included the four most critical data points. But the feeling in the industry today is that more data points, education and support are needed to boost adoption rates.

(To read about the 2010 AEMP telematics standard go here. For a copy of that standard go here.)

As far as a timetable on launching the new initiative, Orr says the standard will probably be phased in but that the two groups hope to be able to make an announcement at ConExpo in March. “They’ll probably take some of the low hanging fruit and make that data available and then keep working on it. I see this as a multi-year process,” he says.

*The Association of Equipment Management Professionals represents more than 500 fleet management professionals in more than 350 companies that work in construction, government, utilities, energy mining and related fields.  For more information visit www.aemp.org.

**The Association of Equipment Manufacturers is the North American based international trade group providing business development resources to advance the off-road equipment manufacturing industry in the global marketplace. Membership comprises more than 850 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture, construction, forestry, mining and utility sectors. www.aem.org.