Contractors need help seeing the benefits of telematics

From an article originally published in the CONEXPO-CON/AGG 365 newsletter. For more information, visit

Coaching your customers on the value of using telematics is critical to the technology’s widespread adoption, say two industry experts. Why? Because while the opportunities and benefits of telematics are evident, so too are the challenges.

Kurt Nantkes, senior vice president at fleet management technology provider Zonar, says many construction companies are wary of the cost of telematics hardware and implementation. To overcome this concern, he said, they need to understand how telematics can impact their bottom line.

“Accurate utilization of telematics can drive every function of a company’s business – repair costs, rental dependency, liquidation, job costing and cost per hour metrics,” he said. “When used properly, telematics can help construction companies implement money-saving, smart-fleet management solutions."

Nantkes points to seven key ways telematics can improve fleet utilization:

  1. Protection against theft – Telematics-enabled tracking can locate assets in real time, meaning a piece of equipment can be located immediately.
  2. Effective utilization of assets within a fleet – Project managers can maximize the usage of all assets to avoid unnecessary sourcing of equipment.
  3. Missing meter data – Many fleet managers rely on meter data to maintain vehicles daily. Often, this is a manual process. Telematics can collect this data automatically.
  4. Visibility into preventative maintenance – Remote diagnostics, shop resources, uptime and scheduled preventative maintenance are all possible with telematics.
  5. Maximize cycle times and uptime – Telematics can identify the most effective driving routes and use of equipment.
  6. Fuel efficiency – Telematics data can be used to monitor idle times, speed, acceleration, hard braking and more to improve fuel usage.
  7. Electronic verified inspection reporting – Telematics can ensure any federally required daily vehicle inspections occur.

Sue Rutherford, vice president of marketing at ORBCOMM, says that along with cost comes the question of connectivity.

“Connectivity used to be an issue," Rutherford said, "But with newer and cheaper satellite connectivity offerings, this problem has been addressed by covering remote regions as well as being able to offer a global, single-SKU telematics platform.”

Lack of an industry standard for telematics data is another problem that has now been addressed, she said. Until recently, construction companies were faced with the choice of using either a manufacturer's or an aftermarket solution, neither of which was fully satisfactory.

"Manufacturers could offer more value in diagnosing/pulling the right data from the machines, but for a construction company with a mixed fleet, these same devices wouldn't work across all of their equipment," Rutherford noted. “Aftermarket devices have the opposite problem. Generation of data is easy, but you need to be able to interpret the data for it to make sense from a business case point-of-view.”

A mixed-fleet telematics standard developed by AEM and the Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) has now been published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).The AEM/AEMP standard enables construction companies to gather telematics data into their preferred business or fleet management software from manufacturers who comply with the standard and offer data through the standard’s API (Application Programming Interface) format.

The standard is available to purchase/download at