Graphic by John Deere
6559a2e8bef401001e3c305e Jdlinklarge 2023

Interview with John Deere’s Edward Olson: More Data, More Often

Nov. 19, 2023
Edward Olson, product manager, John Deere, talks about advances in connectivity, how telematics enables better usage of other technologies and how JD Link captures data every five seconds.

Edward Olson, product manager, John Deere, talks about advances in connectivity, how telematics enables better usage of other technologies and how JD Link captures data every five seconds.


By Michael Roth, rer

RER: What have been the most important achievements in your telematics systems in the past year?

Olson: It’s all about getting our machines connected to enable our dealers and customers with the best machine monitoring services and the value of the John Deere Operations Center and Connected Support.

We are adopting JDLink connectivity across all the Wirtgen Group machines and have started with Hamm roller and Vogele pavers this year and in the next couple years, all Wirtgen Group will become native JDLink connected machines. 

Our John Deere compact construction machines are also getting JDLink connectivity. Starting May 2023 all compact track loaders and skid steer loaders have JDLink in base. We also expect to provide connectivity options for compact excavators and compact wheel loaders by fall 2023. These machine forms round out telematics capabilities across the entire John Deere earthmoving fleet.  

We have also introduced the John Deere Operations Center as a customer focused and jobsite centric digital destination. We’re extending the superb tools that our dealers and customers have enjoyed for many years and putting our customers at the forefront of our developers’ minds. We’re building functionality to enable management of the jobsite and supporting future jobsite and machine automation solutions. 

Lastly for those who love data, we continue to make improvements in the fidelity and frequency of data coming from our machines and now capture and transmit data as often as every five seconds.  

What have been the most important advancements in capabilities, enabling rental companies to improve efficiencies?

Olson: The universal availability of JDLink telematics enables a whole new level of capability for our rental company customers. Any machine you get from John Deere will be connected with OEM-supported telematics capabilities. There is no need to install third party telematics devices – we’ve done that for you. JDLink modems are integrated into the machine for maximum protection and provide the best and most robust data you can get from our machines. No subscription management or costs and no costly installation headaches. JDLink connectivity is included, forever, in the price of the machine.  

Dealer monitoring (should it be leveraged by the customer) is much more robust whenever you have OEM telematics. John Deere is progressing with Expert Alerts and fleet wide monitoring to spot trends and notify dealers when something may be going amiss.

We have great features and capabilities in Operations Center, but we know that isn’t the only option for all customers. So, we’ve supported ISO 15143-3 (aka AEMP 2.0) for nearly seven years now. That provides utilization and basic machine data into rental business systems.


How will telematics advance in the next few years? What are customers expecting in the next level of telematics?

Olson: Customers expect more data, more often, from all machines and from wherever those machines are located. So, we work to enable that. Whether we are lobbying for more ubiquitous cellular coverage in the places our machines operate or looking for new technologies like Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite capabilities, John Deere is going to advance the connectivity that our customers depend on.

The terminology ‘telematics’ focuses on the hardware and the data. Telematics should be thought of as an enabler that allows the entire fleet to be analyzed, visualized and presented in ways that we’ve never been able to do in the past. I mentioned we are building the customer jobsite context into our tools so we can better tailor the data coming from machines, so it matches what the end customer sees out their pickup truck window when they arrive at a jobsite. We expect to provide the solutions based on telematics, that help the customer get more value out of the other tech on our machines. Let’s show them how and where they are using SmartGrade and how they can use it better next time. SmartDetect systems (with cameras and the ability to detect a personbring new capabilities to Site Safety managers. Certainly, fleet management and maintenance remain critical, but connectivity enables so much more beyond that!

I’m sure you keep your eye on telematics development in other industries. What are some of the developments or trends in telematics that you’ve noticed in other industries that you admire, whether or not they are relevant to the rental industry?

Olson: Automotive customers have more continuous and fluid relationships with the technology in their cars. It remains more difficult to get information on the technology that is on a construction machine into the hands of rental customers who may only have the machine a few days or weeks. Ways to connect those folks with ways to leverage the totality of the technology on their John Deere machines is a place we need to do better.

I admire the massive displays we find in some cars — touchscreen displays of that size, resolution, and quality will be seen in more and more Deere construction machines moving forward. These displays will be very intuitive, offering a user experience and interface that keeps the operator as productive and comfortable as possible.

Olson: Yes, for sure AI is relevant to rental. John Deere is investing in AI and machine learning in ways that will impact all machine forms for all customers. AI in the world of warranty analysis, field uptime improvement and predictive maintenance are immediate areas of work. Keeping machines running while in customer hands and enabling planned maintenance remain critical for rental customers and AI will help us improve that across the board.

Past that, we can assume that the future will see more integration of AI into machine features and capabilities, but you have to stay tuned for more news!

Anything you’d like to add?

Olson: I’m excited that machine technology will continue to provide easily accessible value to customers and view connectivity and telematics as a prerequisite to fully expose and enable those capabilities for all our customers. 


About the Author

Michael Roth | Editor

Michael Roth has covered the equipment rental industry full time for RER since 1989 and has served as the magazine’s editor in chief since 1994. He has nearly 30 years experience as a professional journalist. Roth has visited hundreds of rental centers and industry manufacturers, written hundreds of feature stories for RER and thousands of news stories for the magazine and its electronic newsletter RER Reports. Roth has interviewed leading executives for most of the industry’s largest rental companies and manufacturers as well as hundreds of smaller independent companies. He has visited with and reported on rental companies and manufacturers in Europe, Central America and Asia as well as Mexico, Canada and the United States. Roth was co-founder of RER Reports, the industry’s first weekly newsletter, which began as a fax newsletter in 1996, and later became an online newsletter. Roth has spoken at conventions sponsored by the American Rental Association, Associated Equipment Distributors, California Rental Association and other industry events and has spoken before industry groups in several countries. He lives and works in Los Angeles when he’s not traveling to cover industry events.