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Interview with David Swan: Optimize the Fleet

Sept. 11, 2022
David Swan, senior vice president of products, Trackunit, talks with RER about its continuous review and improvement process, faster finding of assets, analyzing machine operations, and more.

David Swan, senior vice president of products, Trackunit, talks with RER about its continuous review and improvement process, faster finding of assets, analyzing machine operations, and more.

RER: What have been the most recent benefits and capabilities of the telematics system you offer to rental companies?

Swan: Trackunit operates a continuous development function, so products and services that support rental customers are constantly being reviewed and improved. We have just opened a product portal on our website that we believe is something unique in our industry, that offers transparent access to all our product development activity. Rental customers, OEMs and contractors can access any product, review what updates are in the pipeline and give feedback to planned or launched products. We believe that this offers real transparency to the market so that together we can help our industry focus on problem solving.

The launch of the Kin, a Bluetooth-enabled tag, for non-powered tools was a significant product for the rental market. It offers the capability to tag and track non-powered tools, such as excavator buckets, and small tools, that are easily misplaced or stolen from a site. Kin allows the contractor and rental company to not only locate the tagged item easily and quickly, but also track when it is operating. We are getting positive feedback from the industry that Kin is reducing asset losses, saving money, and increasing productivity for the rental customer. This is also a massive benefit to the rental company in terms of customer satisfaction and a large reduction in replacement costs.

What are some of the new features and capabilities you will be adding in the foreseeable future?

Swan: We have recently introduced a utilization report for Kin-tagged assets. This allows the rental company to gain an overview of asset usage across their equipment and tools in one go. Assets with a Kin tag pull utilization data from the onboard accelerometer, which indicates movement, and this can then be analyzed. This is a step towards creating a shared view across assets that is telematics device independent.

Based on customer feedback we’ve updated the Kin experience to make finding your Kin-tagged asset easier. Using Trackunit Go, the mobile app, we’ve improved precise address resolution that supports faster finding of assets. A last seen date stamp gives increased level of confidence on the asset’s current location and the movement detector indicator displays if the asset is currently in use. There is also Asset Image, which gives a visual cue as to what the asset looks like.

Telematics-connected assets across the rental customer’s fleet can now be captured in a first-level device support providing an overview for a quick health check of the fleet. This enables rental companies to gain the most out of their devices and optimize their fleet. Operators can monitor the whole installed asset base and can identify non-responding units, as well as ensure Bluetooth and encryption is enabled across the fleet.

Bulk search reports allow rental companies to reduce the administration load when they need to generate a report on machines that are still onsite with specific customers. Thus, focusing on machines that need to be billed.

What are the key types of information that your system shares with rental companies?

Swan: Most rental customers need very similar types of information to operate their business effectively. In all situations it is essential to offer customers the capability to filter, sort and export data tailored to their job requirements, two examples of this are:

Incident reports: Construction machines are expensive and currently difficult to replace. Within our incident report, rental customers can detect suspected theft by accessing past locations, provide evidence of device tampering, check time, location and other inputs in the case of an accident. This allows the fleet manager to react quickly to possible theft or accidents, as fast turnaround time can often lead to asset recovery. This report allows fleet managers to quickly gather evidence and forward to the authorities or insurance company.

Fleet Overview: Also, essential for any rental company is the ability to quickly generate and export a fleet overview, time is money, and we are making it quicker for customers to export information into the format they need. In the My Fleet view of inventory customers can quickly export any data they need to an excel sheet. This allows then to filter and select whatever business data is needed, even from large asset data bases.

How does your system help rental companies to bill their customers?

Swan: As a single example, in the Trackunit My Fleet view, customers can compile single customer current rentals into a spreadsheet to build invoicing quickly and effectively for individual customers. This can be allocated to separate jobs or sites so that customers can easily see the rental use for each project. This capability is very useful for rental company’s customers to keep control of costs, providing insights into equipment use for each site and allows the site managers to optimize their rental equipment requirement at any time.

How does your system help rental companies to practice preventive and predictive maintenance?

Swan: Utilizing the data captured by the TURAW device, rental companies can monitor and analyze machine operation. Down to individual machines, maintenance schedules can be set up, so that specific alerts will be triggered when maintenance parameters have been reached. Single-machine level insights ensure no tracked equipment exceeds its recommended utilization. The system monitors activity such as parameter status throughout the day, machine utilization over a period and machine’s excess usage throughout weekdays and weekdays.

Rental companies often have mixed fleets with mixed telematic solutions. Ensuring connection between machines with ISO 15143-3 feeds to allow high quality data to the Trackunit ecosystem is vital to enable fleet wide analytics, remote diagnostics and increased operational capability. Trackunit supports our customers through the process to achieve connectivity for all their machines and devices across various OEM equipment.

The connectivity highlights situations where site machines are being overused and scheduled maintenance can be reviewed and brought forward if necessary.

In the past, often rental companies felt they couldn’t afford telematics systems. Are they now more affordable for smaller rental companies?

Swan: Our User interface and feature design focuses on highlighting exceptions and making the most important data easy to digest and access. A good example of this is the ability to “pin” the most important parameters on the machines insights page to the top of the list. This makes sure that the most used parameters, which drive business processes and efficiencies, are right where they need to be for quick access and driving action for the user.

At Trackunit, we maintain a continuous open communication with our customers. First contacts ensure that we understand the customers data and business needs, to provide an effective telematic solution. We have recently, introduced our Product Portal on the website, which increases the customers’ ability to be involved in our product updates and new product development. We believe this is an industry first, and it will help our customers and Trackunit to understand customer requirements for current and future products and system developments.