Heavy Duty Data Support
Author Robert Pirsig once observed that determining a solution to a problem is often more difficult than actually doing what is needed to correct the problem. He said solutions are simple once you know what they are. For that matter, it also helps to know who has solutions to offer. With respect to the telematics solutions imparted by one Indiana-based company, heavy equipment OEMs, construction companies and mixed-fleets operators are not only being provided with a remarkable means to correct problems, but greater ability to prevent problems before they even occur.
LHP Telematics is a provider of customized telematics solutions uniquely designed for serving in the most rugged of work environments; critical components in industry sectors that include construction, excavation, agriculture, energy and the range of operations requiring the deployment of heavy equipment or mixed fleets. LHP Telematics has become a leading resource to dynamic enterprises like John Deere, Manitowoc and numerous other OEMs by helping them not only provide greater value in their manufactured equipment, but greater understanding of how operators use their equipment as well as how that equipment performs.
Chief Technology Officer Travis Jones explains that LHP Telematics’ capabilities evolved from a merger with what was once known as Wildcat Systems, one of the first companies to advance a satellite-based asset-tracking technology. At Wildcat, Jones says he and other company principals quickly learned that asset-tracking alone wasn’t enough to entice customers. As large OEMs were moving toward the integration of telematics, they sought solutions that could also impart data about fuel usage, performance, engine integrity and more. During a tradeshow some years ago, Jones met Dave Glass, the founder and president of LHP Inc. The two negotiated a joint venture that led to the development of new software, advancements in embedded control systems, and today, LHP Telematics has evolved to provide a range of services. LHP Software essentially has two core competencies: one involves project-specific development of software; the second involves something of a technical recruiting solution for automotive and heavy equipment companies seeking technical staff and talent crucial to their respective engineering needs.
Through LHP Telematics, customers can source a telematics platform that can be fully customized and branded such that it becomes the equipment OEM’s own unique solution – a stand-alone innovation for the imparting of data displayed through a portal congruent with the OEM’s equipment, something that doesn’t look or operate quite like any other solution available on the market. LHP Telematics has grown to offer the most configurable embedded applications available in the market, all designed to improve equipment utilization and provide a fast return on investment through the monitoring, measuring and controlling of data. Through LHP Telematics engineering services, equipment owners are able to define the reports that help them glean insight on ways to better leverage their investment through custom data reports and automatic notification of events in the field.
It is in this capacity that LHP Telematics has garnered acclaim as one the most dynamic telematics software and applications providers in the industry. To put that in perspective, consider LHP Telematics and the telematics hardware provider Morey both earning of the M2M Value Chain Awards from Manitowoc. The award stemmed from LHP Telematics participation in the creation of “CraneSTAR,” a built-in fleet management tool that provides worldwide access (via a 24/7 website) that imparts all manner of vital information from the crane, including localization, working time, security information, maintenance plan, and more. Data relating to the crane’s operating conditions are transmitted to a central database where managers can then monitor that data from any online device. CraneSTAR was ultimately deployed on over 100 different models of Manitowoc cranes in factories throughout the US, Germany, France, Italy, India, and China. This is, however, just one example. As Jones says, LHP Telematics provides a limitless value proposition for many equipment OEMs, whether they offer telematics as a factory-installed aspect of their manufacturing process or as a purchasable option. John Deere is a customer of LHP Telematics and in September 2013, Deere & Company made an equity investment in LHP Telematics. The Illinois-based Deere is the world’s leading manufacturer of agricultural equipment and services under the John Deere brand as well as a leading producer of products and services for construction, forestry and turf care.
In accounting of the benefits, Jones offers an example in which one manufacturer discovered that after installing telematics as a factory standard in one heavy equipment vehicle, almost 98% of their customers never allowed their fuel tanks to drop below fifty percent. This realization ultimately led the OEM to reduce the size of the gas tank on the manufactured vehicle and achieving of savings from $1,000 to $2,000 per piece of equipment. For OEMs, as Jones says, there are great benefits from having better insight as to how customers are using the equipment that is manufactured as well as understanding how that equipment is performing. Jones says this not only helps OEMs to better structure warranty agreements, but also improves on the servicing of equipment because it can be done in a manner that is more proactive than reactive. “So, a customer can be contacted and informed, ‘Hey, I see that your oil pressure is too high. I’ll be out there tomorrow to service that.’ The OEM can drive the appropriate service and parts into customer account proactively… that way the customer is not as prone to look at other avenues to buy parts or service,” says Jones.
The servicing of equipment is further improved by increased efficiency. As Jones explains, for customers that go through dealerships, there are fees arising when a dealership has to go onsite to service a piece of equipment. The technician may not immediately know what is wrong with the equipment. He’ll make one trip to perform a diagnostic, then leave to access the necessary parts, and return again to correct the problem. With telematics, the technician can faster diagnose what needs to be serviced, and in one visit, arrive with the necessary parts to make the necessary adjustment. The process is faster, more convenient and cheaper.
Telematics also help equipment owners better protect their investments and safeguard against problems arising from improper usage of that equipment. For example, take accidents involving cranes. Jones says cranes come with alerts which allow the operator to know when he is doing something he shouldn’t, yet in many cases, crane operators know how to push the limits, and may even know how to turn the alarm indicators off. “Telematics allows the performance data to be gathered, and sent to a server where it can then be accessed by someone in management so they can better know the operator is using any piece of equipment … if the operator is constantly pushing the limit or doing something wrong, management can take corrective actions,” says Jones.
Jones acknowledges that many in the field don’t particularly care for the fact that their use of company equipment is being closely monitored. At the same time, he says costs arising from equipment repairs or replacement because of improper usage is a challenge for management. He says some companies have created scorecards based on the collection of performance data as part of incentive systems where employees are rewarded for operating equipment in the correct manner. As Jones says, “Telematics is being used to help reinforce good operator behavior.”
Cross Platform Convenience
Beyond the customized, factory installed solutions for OEMs, LHP also provides aftermarket solutions for those with a mixed-fleet. In this capacity, LHP Telematics services again provide greater convenience and cost effectiveness through the ability to normalize data streams. For example, say you have heavy duty construction equipment, a couple of Ford F150s, and some other equipment. Each separate vehicle may have its own kind of telematics functionality. One may come with a device that measure fuel usage by the hour while another may measure engine operating time by the minute, prompted by the turning on and off of the ignition. And still another may generate data dealing with some other aspect of engine performance. This typically requires management to log into different portals to access the relevant information and review the varying reports for each respective vehicle. LHP Telematics eliminates that by providing a single portal capable of outputting a single report for monitoring all vehicles in one view. LHP Telematics solutions can be integrated with more than a dozen other different manufactured telematics devices. And unlike some commercial solutions, LHP Telematics has selected their devices for rugged performance, not as an afterthought, but as a design specification to better serve in the harsh conditions in which heavy equipment may operate.
“I’ve seen many cases where an operator’s device from some other company no longer works. When it is examined, so much dust and dirt falls out that it’s no wonder the mechanism didn’t work. It may not be a big deal over the road, but when you’re in a construction environment, having the right kind of telematics box for the environment you’re in is very important… we’ve designed ours with that in mind,” says Jones.
As for the future, Jones says LHP Telematics is working toward the creation of remote software updates for equipment electronic controllers. At present, when software needs to be updated, it generally requires an onsite visit from a service technician. In the not so distant future, Jones says LHP Telematics will advance remote capabilities, making over-the-air software updates as easy as pushing a button. “We see that as a major lead … to service equipment remotely and remove the complexity of servicing which is especially beneficial to smaller OEMs,” says Jones. In addition, he says LHP Telematics not only anticipates expanding its role as a provider of customized, factory-installed telematics solutions for OEMs, but also strengthening its position as an aftermarket solution for construction and heavy equipment customers. That strengthening will likely come with LHP’s ability to collect and share new streams of data to further bolster value for its customers. As Jones says, “We want to get beyond the basic and create a richer set of data … we want to be the company of choice for end users with a broad, mixed fleet.”
For more information, please visit their website at LHP Telematics
Preferred Vendor of Choice: