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Talking Telematics with Sherwood Construction: How I Unified OEM Telematics Data

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Doug King, Corporate Equipment Manager at Sherwood Construction, learned about Teletrac Navman through its work on the Association of Equipment Management Professionals’ (AEMP) Telematics Standard, which supports sharing of data amongst OEMs and third-party telematics applications. Here’s what Doug had to say about the benefits of getting telematics data into one system.

Historically, how have you managed Sherwood’s mixed fleet?

Doug: For a long time, we looked at all telematics separately – Caterpillar, John Deere, VOLVO and Kamatsu, and Teletrac Navman Director for Hours of Service and now ELD compliance.

All the OEMs give you vehicle tracking data, but they don’t talk to each other and (the data) is all formatted differently. Through Teletrac Navman’s Qtanium Connect, you get it in all the same (format). That’s a big deal. There aren’t many fleets out there that aren’t mixed, so when you have something like Qtanium Connect that can take data from all these different inputs and put it into a single report, formatted the same with the same information, you can actually compare Komatsu vs. CAT dozers, or CAT vs. John Deer excavators.

Now, one-third of our grading equipment – about 180 units – are on Teletrac Navman and we’re slowly getting the whole fleet on there.

What made you look for a third-party telematics system?

Doug: What really pushes you to telematics is the data. An example: we used it to look at Volvo articulated dump trucks running on a job. We could measure cycle time – distance from loading to dumping, how long they were at the dump site, how long it took to travel back to the loading site and how long it took them to load. Then, with the onboard scale system on the trucks, I could see they were averaging ~103% of their gross load.

That’s some really useful data, not just for me, but for the whole company, that comes from this one instance. First, we knew we had the right loading tool and number of trucks on the haul. We also captured the fuel burn for the loader and dozers, so we now have good figures to staff similar jobs efficiently and bid similar jobs accurately in the future. The data you can gather from telematics is just amazing!

What other ways are you using the aggregated telematics data?

Doug: GPS asset tracking is huge. It’s made maintenance way more efficient. Tracks are one of our biggest expenses. We do undercarriage checks every 500 hours on bulldozers and excavators. In the past, our view into equipment location could be a week old. We might send a technician to a site, and the equipment might not even still be there. Now, we work technician time off the location data. If a technician is going to a certain area, we get them to hit all the pieces of equipment that are ready without having to backtrack. Or, if we have a breakdown, we can look at which mechanic is closest and send them to the site.

We also use the telematics data to track service meters and verify timesheets. What’s tracked and what people turn in on paper don’t always match, so it’s made maintenance much more accurate.

The location data also let us locate one stolen loader backhoe and one skid steer. That would have cost the company over $160,000, and recovering either one of them by themselves would have paid for the entire system.

Who do you think stands to benefit most from telematics?

Doug: We’ve been playing with telematics for a while and are convinced there’s more there. Part of the thing with telematics is that I can see the advantage of it as a fleet manager, but the real advantage is to the entire company. There has to be more than one person seeing it, but once a company embraces it, it’s going to be huge.

Years ago, when the automatic grade control came out, we were one of the first ones to embrace it. We felt like that gave us a competitive edge. Now I don’t think there’s any serious company out there who doesn’t have automatic grade control, but there’s a huge amount not using telematics. I think people that aren’t embracing telematics and starting to understand what can be gained in cost-savings are going to be behind the curve in 10 years. They’ll wish they jumped on it.


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