Canadian Rental Service

Mythbusting telematics

By Peter Gibbons and Luis Branco, Finning Canada   

Features Tech tips Rental Equipment

Telematics can help rental stores stay ahead of the fast pace of change.

It’s not just for the big operations any more. Advances in telematics are making the technology more accessible and useful even to small customers.

The pace of change is quick. Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” But we don’t want you to miss it. 

Telematics can help with equipment troubleshooting, data collection, security and even administative paperwork. Integrating it needn’t be a costly or time-consuming chore, and the result can be a more profitable business. But some persistent myths prevent rental stores from taking full advantage of this technology. Let’s mythbust and find the impacts and barriers.

Myth #1 No one expects telematics on rented equipment
Today, most telematics technology is standard issue on new equipment and the majority of equipment that has been manufactured within the past six to 10 years has telematics already built-in. So, in many instances it’s not a decision about whether or not to install it, it’s a matter of whether or not to turn it on.

Telematics gives companies the ability to track equipment online. With a telematics dashboard, you can track your machine, your hours, fuel level, and you keep the rental fleet healthy with timely servicing and troubleshooting. One of the main considerations when deciding on technology is the level of detail you’d like and frequency. The level of reporting you can choose is flexible and available via monthly subscriptions and ranges from very basic daily reporting to highly detailed reporting, as frequent as every 10 minutes. 

Keep in mind, too, that reporting may be mandatory when bidding on projects that are part of civic infrastructure like landfills or airports. Many of these projects depend on precise grading specifications. In those cases, any rented equipment to support those jobs must have telematics. Rented equipment can be seamlessly integrated with the rest of the fleet on the customer’s telematics account, and then removed once the machine is returned. 

Myth #2 I don’t have time to learn it
In our experience, using telematics with a dealership partner is easier than you might have expected. Those that do are glad they started down this pathway. In its most basic form, if you have an email address, you can get started generating reports from the machine that are sent to your inbox. In its most sophisticated form, the technology can be as detailed and intricate as you’d like – it can be an ongoing development that goes only as far as you wish. When gaps in operator expertise are uncovered, there are platform specialists that can train and educate your team to increase competence and develop new skills. With telematics, a less experienced or younger operator can operate equipment at a higher, more advanced level. High turnover is a challenge for everyone, but we are finding that telematics is allowing for younger operators to enter the job site and be effective right away.

Any extra time you spend training can be made up because you can troubleshoot equipment in real time. As you become more experienced with the reports and codes you have better knowledge of the fleet and the specifications of the equipment. When codes are being generated it can trigger a real-time alert to an operator. With some codes, you’ll know to send a technician before a breakdown even occurs. When you receive a check engine report and you can send a technician with the right parts to the job site because you have been able to predict a problem before it occurs and you mitigate downtime.

Myth #3 Telematics are for big companies
Telematics is for everyone. Really, the best part about it is that it is customizable to the size and scope of your operation. A basic daily subscription is included at zero dollars with some dealerships—and a real win for a smaller operation is the cross-over administration benefits from using advanced technology. At a very basic level, telematics is a great theft deterrent and a connected fleet may see some insurance savings. It’s always great to be able to track and locate your equipment. In addition, if you are running a smaller scale company, you may have a smaller administration team, telematics can help with reports. It simplifies invoicing and billing. It allows you to track fuel, idling, productivity, run time and efficiencies. Your accountant will love the added fleet information. 

In our experience, once a customer—big or small—starts to explore the different report options, they want more.

Myth #4: Telematics are complicated
It’s not as complicated as you might think. More and more, telematics are vastly improving operations, reducing downtime, and translating into measurable benefits. Industry is changing and with that comes the need for advanced technology. With our labour market shrinking and more seasoned operators retiring from the field, rental equipment that features telematics is giving companies a great advantage. It’s allowing for more precise work to be performed in the hands of a less experienced operator. Many projects today are requiring tight specifications and the competitive bid process also requires tolerances that can only be achieved with technology—so, it makes sense with heavy equipment rental. Bottom line, having the option to use advanced technology is important. 

Since most advanced technology is standard on much of today’s equipment, engage with your dealership, especially in your rental equipment situations and ask questions. Work in partnership to learn how to customize the reporting because the reporting is simple. It’s delivered to your inbox in an email format with powerful information for your operators and equipment. Make the most of dealer training opportunities and access to additional expertise. Whether your operation is big or small the benefits of using the latest technology are significant—more efficiencies, better profitability and more time to focus on your operation. 

About the authors
Peter Gibbons is a technology solutions architect for Finning Canada and Luis Branco is a regional rental manager at Finning Canada.

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