This week the BSM Blog Crew is sitting down with Grant Dunbar, a product manager for the construction and rail industry here at BSM, a Geotab Company, to dive into how companies within the industrial sector are leveraging the IoT (Internet of Things) to connect their assets.
BBC: Thanks for chatting with us today, Grant.
GD: Absolutely, thanks for making time for me! I’m admittedly obsessed with this topic, so I jump at any chance talk about telematics and the IoT.
BBC: Aren’t telematics and the IoT the same thing?
GD: They’re related, but not the same. Telematics describes vehicular technologies and the sending, receiving, and storing of information via a cellular network link to the internet. It often includes location-based information and services enabled by GPS. The IoT on the other hand expands on that scope to include all things beyond vehicles.
BBC: Like smart home devices?
GD: Exactly, only in an industrial setting the IoT connects construction vehicles, rail cars, and fleets using an internet-connected device that communicates location, power and fuel status, and usage metrics to one source.
BBC: Got it. We wrote a post last week that dove into the connected job site. That’s all IoT, right?
GD: Yep! When you network data together through the IoT you have a 360 view of all your assets, their data, and even remote-control options. Think fuel levels, remote on-off capabilities on construction sites, GPS data on rail cars, and so on.
BBC: Is it essential to have GPS enabled on your devices and vehicles before implementing an IoT solution?
GD: It’s not essential but it’s certainly very common. Location is often a key data point when it comes to vehicles and moveable assets. What’s essential to IoT solutions is that your asset can communicate to the portal I mentioned earlier, so it absolutely must have an internet-connected device within it. Whether a delivery van or a hand-held power tool, if it’s connected to a network you can generate value out of its data. But as both examples show, location is often a valuable data point to transmit.
BBC: Where else is the IoT being applied to fleets today?
GD: Traditional fleet vehicles were early adopters of telematics due to the value of location data for route optimization. The IoT has blown that scope wide open, allowing us to include all types of asset deployments, from a traditional taxi fleet to heavy equipment, light stands, generators, and boom lifts on a job site.
The other immense value of the IoT is the breadth of information that is now being collected. Asset utilization can now be measured as well as asset health. Measurements like how long an asset was on, how it’s being treated as well as its current fuel level, temperature, and fault code status provides specific actionable insights. This means efficient asset deployment, reduced cost of operations for our customers, and improved safety for their employees.
BBC: What if a company has different types of vehicles or assets in their fleets?
GD: If there’s cellular or Wi-Fi connection, it can be connected to our portal largely through plug-and-play installations, but we’re no stranger to more complex or custom installs—in fact it’s something we specialize in.
Many devices exist in a variety of sizes and are powered by a fixed power connection, battery, or solar and they are all eligible. Fleets with mixed assets usually have several device types, and with BSM technology they all communicate to the same portal to provide a unified window.
BBC: How do customers know which data to collect?
GD: The right data is different for every company because it’s the data that solves a unique business issue within a specific industry, but usually focus on things like reducing costs or unlocking new revenue streams. BSM works with our customers to create custom connections to assets so they can solve what matters most to them.
BBC: What can customers do to get their fleets connected to the IoT?
GD: Start now. The speed at which we’re innovating means playing catch-up down the road becomes more difficult. If you get your fleet connected to the IoT now, then you’re updating at the pace of innovation, not completely overhauling your fleet technology later on.