How Telematics Improves Fleet Management for Rental Companies

By Chad Cochrane

Chad Cochrane is General Manager for US Markets, Elmhurst, Ill. Among the new projects Chad has worked with US Markets team members to implement since 2012 are refurbishment and repair services for aerial work platforms and telehandlers.

As telematics on construction equipment has evolved, it has put this tool within reach for rental companies of all sizes. No longer is this only for big fleet owners with proprietary data integration software. While costs are directly proportional to fleet size, the benefits of increased operational efficiency and increased profitability also directly impact your return on investment.

Today dozens of third-party telematics systems providers offer services for construction equipment fleet owners, and most manufacturers feature telematics in their designs. Since 2005, US Markets has been using Qualcomm’s GlobalTRACS solution with our fleet of Genie and JLG boom lifts, telehandlers, and scissor lifts, which improves communication with our customers and streamlines our asset management.

Standardizing Data Collection and Retrieval

Last fall, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and the Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) released their Draft Telematics API (Application Programming Interface) Standard, which is designed to encourage integration of telematics on fleets with mixed brands and types of equipment. The goal is to provide fleet owners with a single portal in which to manage all of equipment, whether the data is provided by the OEM, a third party, or both.

Currently, the standard does not specifically relate to AWP equipment or Cranes, which have more complex data points than other types of construction equipment. However, these equipment categories are next on AEM and AEMP’s agenda. (See below for information about systems from Genie and JLG.)

While final language of the standard depends on acceptance by ISO, the draft version is available for equipment owners, fleet managers and rental managers to begin to use for business planning purposes.

Request access to the draft here:         https://groups.google.com/d/forum/telematics-standard.

The Draft API standard expands the original AEMP Telematics Standard to include 19 data fields and 42 fault codes so that fleet owners can improve equipment utilization, control excessive idle, handle preventative maintenance, and easily locate equipment. It also changes how fleet managers can access the data—by using an Application Programming Interface (API) with standardized server-to-server communication protocols. The standard provides security as well, so that manufacturers can protect proprietary information.

Benefits for Rental Companies

Among the biggest benefits of using telematics is that it allows rental companies to track equipment usage for more accurate billing and transparency between the customer and rental provider. Telematics allows the rental company to create creative billing solutions, such as billing by hours used or a combination of time on rent plus hours used, or they can initiate overtime billing for machines that are used beyond pre-determined allowance.

Equipment demand can be monitored by region and season, so that you can predict equipment needs before you get the call, increasing utilization and providing information for additional capital investments. Rental companies will be able to prepare their fleet for movement and to secure better options for freight, complete needed repairs, or update inspections, so that you are in a better position to react to your customers’ requests.

Furthermore, there is intrinsic value in a disciplined and scheduled maintenance routine. With telematics providing usage data, we know how close we may be to a PM interval and we can have engine service performed before the start of a rental that may extend through or beyond the required interval. If you use a third-party service provider, this further increases efficiencies so you are proactive, rather than reactive, to maintenance. In addition, some systems provide capability to do remote diagnostics, decreasing overall downtime when equipment doesn’t operate as expected.

Finally, telematics reduces theft or unauthorized use. Alerts can notify if equipment is being moved outside a pre-defined zone, or at odd hours or with the ignition off. And curfews can be set to prevent engine activation during non-working hours.

Overview of popular AWP and Telehandler telematics systems

While AEM and AEMP work to standardize data points for AWP and Telehandler equipment, Genie and Skyjack are already making moves to simplify telematics management for mixed fleets. Last year, Genie introduced a telematics-ready connector to enable telematics devices to be plugged into Genie boom lifts. This device works with multiple telematics systems, providing flexible, adaptable, and portable “plug and play” convenience. It is available on S80 and Z80, S100, S120, and ZX135 models, as well as smaller machines. Read more about it in Construction Equipment. http://www.constructionequipment.com/genie-adds-telematics-connector-alarm-boom-lifts

Likewise, Skyjack equipment is “telematics ready,” meaning that “customers can fit their own telematics devices to our machines and interface with their chosen software,” explains Malcolm Early, Vice President of Marketing for Skyjack.

JLG’s proprietary system is called ClearSky, which allows you to access machine maintenance history, remotely diagnose equipment, monitor PM intervals, and see where and when the equipment is being used. It is available on new machines or can be retrofitted to older equipment.

According to JLG, the return on investment is significant. “If you look at three areas of operational performance—including service calls avoided, service and preventative maintenance efficiencies achieved, and the recovery of currently lost revenues—your annual savings can top approximately $100,000 per year for an average fleet of 50 machines. Learn more at www.clearskyjlg.com

Worth Reading

Telematics in construction equipment management have come a long way, and we’re on the cusp of important improvements for companies that rent boom lifts, scissor lifts, telescopic handlers, and cranes. The following articles recently published by leading rental industry magazines provide additional information about telematics trends.

Telematics and Rental by Jenny Lescoohier, published on ForConstructionPros.com, Jan. 21, 2015

The future of fleet management by Wayne Walley, published on RentalManagment.com, June 2014

Overview of consolidating telematics data with AEM/AEMP Draft Telematics API Standard, published Dec. 22, 2014

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