Telematics is an interdisciplinary field blending computer science with telecommunications, vehicular technologies, road transportation, safety and electrical engineering. The potential impact on both EPSA’s business and customer operations is incredibly powerful, especially in preventive maintenance, equipment management, productivity, customer service, safety and sustainability.
In a recent report, global technology research consultancy Frost & Sullivan predicts that the US off-highway vehicle rental market will expand by 13–15 per cent in the next five years. According to Wade, by “including telematics technologies in our products we can lead that type of growth in Australia too”.
"DEPLOYING THIS TECHNOLOGY ENHANCES OUR INTERACTION WITH OUR CUSTOMERS, WHICH IS AT THE HEART OF OUR SERVICE MODEL"
Being connected and creative
“We must be creative to drive business and that’s about being connected to as many devices as possible,” Wade says.
In order to diversify and grow the EPSA rental business, Wade believes that “we need to have instant and accurate information about our products that is linked into our Cat® dealer network.
“Leveraging technology to meet the needs of both our customers and ourselves is enabling us to pioneer a program that will eventually tap into Cat Connect Solutions, Caterpillar’s global suite of integrated equipment and asset management services and solutions.
“What telematics provides is holistic offerings that integrate products, processes and people like never before, for operations of any size, type or complexity.”
“Our non-traditional competition has grown exponentially, as players from technology giants like Google and Apple to multi-nationals like BP and Shell invest in more powerful connected monitoring assets. By developing our own, customised to our business, industry and customers, and sharing the datastream with Caterpillar we can gain a comprehensive insight into where, how and why our assets are used.
“You may think, why Google? They don’t have engines—or do they?” challenges Wade.
“Search engines are in fact the biggest threat to our business, because with their commitment to innovation development, they are continually changing the way people think, purchase and interact. And our customers are also embracing these new technologies. Couple that with a new generation of engineers rising through the ranks of the ‘school of the smartphone’, then we must respond accordingly and immediately in order to remain ahead of the competition. So we are and it benefits us too.”
The opportunities are endless
“The technologies that we have already enabled provide us with greater understanding of the customer application, increased awareness of market spread, and more security and accuracy around inventory management.
“We can also facilitate better communication with our Cat dealer partners, be more effective in research and development and share more powerful data with Caterpillar.”
Telematics solutions are providing a wide range of efficiency benefits, from fleet management to smarter asset utilisation and targeted data that we can share with our customers in a totally customised manner.
“More than 50 per cent of our rental assets now have a telematics solution fitted. We are gaining a richer knowledge about the operating hours of our fleet, which means we can automate the collection of hours and then ensure the equipment is being maintained to OEM standards through automated service schedules and purchasing processes. We can also centralise trending costs, make bespoke purchase recommendations, ensure timely completion of modifications and upgrades, and instigate common parts purchasing and national parts-kit distribution.”
The results are in
Wade believes that customers who are using our telematics-fitted products are embracing its benefits—and so is EPSA. “We have reduced annual rental maintenance by 20 per cent and seen a 56 per cent increase in customer requests for customised and user-friendly interfaces.
“The on-demand notification system, available via email, SMS and live data, provides failure analysis prior to any loss and ensures that our equipment ecosystem is sustainable, giving us up-to-date details on the right equipment for the customer and our rental business.”
Leading the revolution
Wade and his team have been working on the planning, development and integration of telematics into the rental fleet over the past few years.
“Our diverse experience, from engineering and systems to administration, has all been critical and keeps us abreast of ever-evolving trends.
“We started with VisionLink and will soon integrate into the next-generation Cat offering.
“We are also trialing product advertising and creating electronic vision boards for the branches.
The whole process must be engaging and the opportunities are endless.”