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Fleet Fixers


IoT platforms can solve machine bottleneck issues.

By Donald Chilton

In a connected world, using new technology in the workplace has become increasingly important to reduce downtime and save money. Countless Internet of Things (IoT) platforms are now serving as bridges between devices’ sensors and data networks. The IoT adds convenience and empowers users and is already being integrated within equipment applications. This is true for the construction, mining and agriculture industries, specifically for filtration.

The heavy-duty environment is extreme, causing substantial amounts of dust and debris to constantly pose a threat to filters used in fleet vehicles and machinery. Air filters are designed to protect the engine but can face serious performance hazards that ultimately cost valuable time and money. As digitalization continues to rise, IoT elements and connection of devices are beginning to help solve fleet bottlenecks in the field.

Fast Finders

Today, new technology notifies fleet managers weeks in advance when service is due, allowing for time to plan maintenance schedules and maximize the efficiency of equipment. With IoT upgrades such as smart filter sensors, it’s no longer necessary to manually check an air filter. Users can access the condition of their air filter from the palm of their hand, minimizing downtime, therefore improving the bottom line.

A secure job site is a priority for many fleet managers – vehicle and equipment theft happens far too often. With updated tech, managers and technicians can quickly access the exact location of each of their machines with GPS integration.

By using an interactive map with geo-fencing, supervisors can draw a “fence” around a designated area and would be notified if the machine ever breached that perimeter. Combining GPS with a time stamp sends notifications to the user if a piece of equipment ever becomes active outside of dedicated working hours. Knowing where a machine is located and when it arrived allows for better logistical planning and aides in theft prevention and recovery.

Smart Tools

In addition, IoT solutions are being used to improve older equipment with little or no connectivity, effectively turning simple machines into smart tools. Smart technology advances enable predictive maintenance, reduce unplanned downtime and secure margins. Companies are taking steps to empower fleet managers and operators through IoT. Customers can now save more than $2,000 per vehicle per year in labor costs by using smart technology to monitor air filter conditions.

Vehicles operating in dusty environments require frequent maintenance and should be monitored more often. With engine rebuild costs ranging in the tens of thousands of dollars, engine protection is on the forefront of most fleet manager’s concerns. A mining company experiencing engine failure due to dust ingestion might spend $20,000 on repair costs and suffer a month of down equipment time. Real-time monitoring technology allows operators to quickly view service needs of their entire fleet from a single portal. Rather than replacing a filter too early or worse, waiting until it’s too late, fleet managers can perform maintenance decisions when the technology tells them to do so. 

A Market Revolution

The shift towards digitization will revolutionize the heavy-duty market. Smart filter sensors monitor air filters in real-time via a mobile app and web portal, allowing for immediate access to filter diagnostics. Fleet operators can now view crucial data at the touch of a button, making sure they are maximizing use of equipment without wasting valuable time or money. Smart filter sensors can also track operating engine hours of each connected vehicle and for many fleets, engine hours are the most accurate way to dictate service intervals. Filter technology has transformed over the years to become more efficient and physically effective. Today, IoT is enabling the filter industry to introduce new digital solutions and push the boundaries of productivity.

Digitalization allows the collection of a vast amount of data. As the industry moves toward this trend, industry decision-makers will continue to recognize the added benefits of tracking operating engine hours, dictating service intervals and measuring and electronically reporting information. Smart tech will continue to enable the filter industry to unleash new digital solutions and drive fleet output to a new level. 

Donald Chilton is an aftermarket industry veteran. He currently serves as director of product management for MANN+HUMMEL, a multibillion-dollar company with 20,000 employees and 80 locations around the globe. He has served in a variety of roles in sales, marketing, engineering and product management. 

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