Photo by ZTR Control Systems
Ztr 2021 Asset Overview

Interview with ZTR’s Paul Wilson: Responsive Web Design

Sept. 5, 2021
Paul Wilson, senior director – ZTR commercial development and operations, IIoT Division, talks about ZTR’s digitization playbook, improving communication with rental companies’ existing business systems, predictive data and more.

The pandemic led a lot more rental companies to become more serious about e-commerce. What changes have you seen among rental companies as a result?

Wilson: We've seen a notable rise in e-commerce since the onset of COVID-19. Pre-pandemic, it was a beneficial service rental companies could provide to their customers. Now, it's a necessity. With that in mind, we create telematics solutions that complement existing software and web-enabled e-commerce capabilities for users. We tend to view the customer experience holistically – we not only support e-commerce, but also offer touchless processes for safe and convenient operation. Beyond that, as part of our digitization playbook, we work with our rental clients to cover any points where their customers may interact with data, directly or indirectly.

How have you developed your e-commerce capabilities to help your customers through this period?

We've been listening to our customers throughout the pandemic and actively applying their feedback to the expansion of our ONE i3 platform. The primary areas of focus have been touchless capabilities and improved integration with rental companies' existing business systems. The most common integration point across our customer base is in the billing process - using equipment data to streamline invoicing. Using ONE i3, rental companies can easily track machine hours and address billing overages when assets are rented over the course of several shifts. Location data and remote diagnostics are also significant. The former is critical for tracking equipment throughout the rental cycle, while the latter allows for higher-level digital and touchless enhancements, and improved uptime management, on more advanced equipment.

What new capabilities, products and upgrades have you developed in the past year?

"This year we’ve focused on continuing to enhance our ONE i3 platform Access Management solutions, to deliver valuable new services to the market that support safer access, and more productive and profitable worksites,” says ZTR CEO and president Sam Hassan.

Since the Access Management solution was unveiled at ConExpo, it has been in high demand with OEMs as well as rental and construction companies. With the prospect of 25,000 more orders, the pace of adoption is gaining considerable momentum as many of our key customers standardize on the solution.

What have you done to improve your software’s integration with telematics systems and other integration with machine data?

We employ a responsive web design approach to our telematics solutions, which means automatic, seamless cross-platform integration – including mobile and tablet - whenever we roll out updates. Our Near Me mobile app remains a crowd favorite, especially popular with field technicians and people on the go looking for quick equipment health data. We've made multiple enhancements to the Near Me application in the past year, including offline functionality, an improved user interface, and additional machine and telematics data for even sharper insights.

The ZTR Bluetooth Ecosystem has also grown, with the addition of new features to our Scout mobile gateway application.

Scout’s new Site Survey feature enables a ‘walking gateway’ experience for our customers. When a user walks through a worksite or rental yard, T-series Bluetooth-tagged asset locations are captured automatically along the walked path and are pinned to the ONE i3 map. This innovation enables greater positioning accuracy for Bluetooth-equipped assets. We've also added sharing functionality so that users can collaborate via email, SMS, or IM as they manage their asset locations and inventories.

What are likely to be the new trends/new directions in software in the foreseeable future?

We foresee the following trends, all linked to what we call "Telematics 2.0" capabilities. Our hardware and software roadmaps address each of these areas of opportunity:

·      Safety – ensuring safe access to machinery.

·       Sustainability – supporting sustainable operations.

·       Machine Electrification – developing tools to support battery management and lifecycles.

·       Predictive Intelligence - infusing A.I. (artificial intelligence) into next-generation digital service models.

·       IoT Expansion - continuing IoT evolution beyond the machine (i.e. tools, accessories).

·       Indoor Tracking - improving tool and equipment monitoring in sheltered environments.

What new features have customers been asking for that will be important?

Working alongside our customers, we see that each have their own unique priorities and gaps to resolve. However, we also see common themes and expectations emerge. Our top customer-requested feature upgrades include:

·                Access Management Solutions: support for safe access to machinery and support for new rental revenue models.

·                Remote Machine Controls: growth of touchless remote services and interfacing with machines and controllers.

·                Integration and APIs: enhancement of connectivity between business systems and more cross-platform data sharing.

·                Advanced Insights: expansion of machine data, and supporting tools, to extract insights and measure performance.

·                Predictive Solutions: elevation of advanced machine data to predict what might happen before it happens.

·                Tracking Lower Value Items: additional location awareness and better control of items such as tools and equipment accessories.