How IoT Improves Telematics in Mobile Equipment

IoT usage in fleet management is on the rise. Buyers and users of mobile equipment are increasingly interested in learning how adding remote access capabilities to telematics solutions can cut costs and improve efficiencies. Many are also seeing opportunities to monetize the data generated by this technology.

However, these same customers also have concerns about IoT fleet management products. To gain a deeper understanding of their views and needs, an independent market research company recently surveyed IoT users from the Mobile-Equipment sector. Detailed findings are presented in an eBook available for download from HydraForce, but a summary is as follows.

Background to the Survey

Mobile equipment OEMs have been taking advantage of telematics systems for some time. They and their customers use these data capture capabilities to improve the maintenance and usage of their complex electro-hydraulic machinery.

The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) has opened up new opportunities for telematics in fleet management. Some “early adopters” are already using this technology, so this research was undertaken to learn from their experiences. More than 150 US-based users contributed, drawn from large, small, and middle-sized businesses.

Why Remote Access is of Interest

The ability to access and gather data from mobile equipment remotely has been enabled by the rapid growth in electronics integration on these vehicles. Today engineers can integrate telematics and remote access into system architectures, allowing functions to be engaged or disengaged remotely.

The survey identified nine ways in which manufacturers and users benefit from remote access telematics. The top item, “Improve service and maintenance capabilities,” was cited by over half of those surveyed, while the lowest-ranked benefit still garnered positive responses from more than a quarter.

How IoT Upgrades Telematics Solutions

Two-thirds of mobile equipment users have chosen to purchase telematics remote access services over other products in the last two years. Another three quarters are considering purchasing a telematics service in the future.

Adding IoT capabilities entails incorporating hardware into the equipment and providing a cloud software solution. The hardware provides wireless connectivity, enabling data capture virtually real-time from anywhere in the world.

This upgrade to existing fleet management capabilities lets users better manage fuel costs and optimize equipment maintenance. A further benefit is the ability to generate fleet metrics, including service reports and KPIs, that let users see how to make additional savings.

Who Could Use an IoT Fleet Management Solution, And Who Already is?

The survey highlights that IoT adoption varies widely across industries and this appears to relate to the benefits they perceive. Construction provides an interesting use case because equipment rental makes up a substantial part of the business. Elsewhere, and particularly in agriculture, there’s a focus on ensuring availability for times of peak activity.

For the mining industry, one of the attractions is the ability to access equipment operating in remote locations. Forestry presents similar challenges and is a sector where the ability to diagnose and even repair problems remotely is highly attractive.

Material handling, another industry that can benefit from IoT fleet management tools, has different challenges. Here, the ability to control usage, perhaps through “beginner” and “expert” level settings, provides a means of enhancing safety. Separately, there’s a lot of benefit in being able to locate equipment in real-time.

What do Buyers and Users Want in Their Solution?

The survey identified a long list of attributes desired by IoT telematics solutions buyers. These may be grouped under four headings:

  • Service attributes
  • Programmability
  • Security
  • Hardware and software attributes

“Service attributes” relate to functionalities that deliver value for users. An example is tools that help prevent theft, which can be a problem in the construction industry. Other desirable attributes, (taken from a lengthy list,) include data analytics and the ability to set operator levels remotely on the worksite.

“Programmability” refers to the ability to configure telematics equipment and IoT functionality to suit particular industries and use cases. The survey revealed that white labeling options for portal dashboards and unique customization for both hardware and software are also seen as desirable capabilities.

“Security” has two aspects. Users want the ease of use, which sometimes conflicts with the security demanded by IT professionals. The survey highlighted that all users prioritize data transfer security highly.

The hardware and software attributes addressed by the survey relate to equipment access and control capabilities. Two desired, in particular, are reliability and flexibility between telematics providers.

The Monetization Opportunity

For providers of mobile equipment, IoT technology presents a number of interesting opportunities to increase revenue and control or reduce costs. This comes about by monetizing some of the capabilities while providing additional services to end-users. Examples include enabling e-commerce transactions for service parts and monitoring of warranty and service information so users can increase maintenance effectiveness.

Understand What Capabilities and Attributes Are Desired Most

Users of mobile equipment see significant benefits in remote access telematics capabilities. For equipment manufacturers, this presents an opportunity to enhance their offerings and even monetize some additional services.

The independent survey of users of equipment with remote access capabilities provides insights into what these groups want. Accordingly, it should be used to drive future development which will increase revenues and profitability. The eBook detailing the survey finding is available for download from HydraForce. Request your copy today.