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Removing the noise from telematics

July 13, 2018  By  Andrew Snook

Volvo CE connected services product sales manager Dave Adams discusses the advantages of ActiveCare Direct during his company’s press event held during the Volvo Ocean Race event festivities in Newport, R.I. Photo: Andrew Snook/Rock to Road

When telematics solutions were first introduced, fleet managers and owners were excited at all the possibilities to optimize their operations that the data they received from their fleets offered them. But in recent years many fleet owners and operators have grown out of love with telematics. This is due to the amount time they’ve had to dedicate staff members to filtering through the almost infinite amount of data available, to find the information they require to run their operations more efficiently. This is a fair complaint, of course, since the main advantage of telematics systems is supposed to be that they will save operations time and money. Several equipment manufacturers have recognized this issue and having been releasing solutions to counter this issue.

This past May, Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) presented its ActiveCare Direct telematics solution to press during the Volvo Ocean Race event festivities held in Newport, R.I.

ActiveCare Direct was designed specifically for this purpose, simplifying data collection and analysis for the end user so they are not overwhelmed by incoming data from streams of alert codes and other digital noise.

Volvo CE connected services product sales manager Dave Adams says his company dived into upgrading its telematics system after discovering some of its customer base was getting overwhelmed by the amount of data coming in, unsure of how to best take advantage of it.


“We had all these tools, and they really weren’t taking advantage of it… too many resources, too much time,” Adams explains, adding that customers started requesting that Volvo CE monitor and filter data for them.

Volvo CE listened to their customers’ requests and began by monitoring data for a small number of key clients across the U.S. and internationally two years ago. The response from customers was extremely positive, so the company expanded its services and built the Volvo Uptime Center in Shippensburg, Penn.

The Uptime Center works with Volvo CE dealers to provide technical support, parts support and case management. Volvo CE started offering ActiveCare Direct as standard to customers in July 2017, with the first year of service free of charge. The new system has not only re-ignited the company’s clients in telematics data, but it has also substantially expanded the construction equipment manufacturer’s customer base. Nearly 100 per cent of the customers that accepted the complimentary year of service from ActiveCare Direct have re-enrolled and are now paying for the service.

Advantages customers have experienced using the new telematics systems include improved communication between the job sites and dealers; faster ordering of parts and services; right-sizing of asset fleets by application; improved operator awareness and training; reduction in machine-misuse cases; decreases in idle time; reduced fuel costs; and decreases in repair costs and time.

“We’re bringing on so many people that were frustrated with telematics in the past,” Adams says. “Now they pretty much just sit back and wait for monthly reports to come in.”

With Volvo CE’s new Uptime Center monitoring its customers’ machines 24/7, 365 days a year, filtering out the noise that once frustrated fleet managers, customers now receive simple monthly reports that offer up only the information that customers deem relevant.

The new system is extremely useful for helping customers and dealers simplify preventative maintenance schedules.

“Now our dealers are being notified at the same time [customers] are, and the dealers are contacting them… our dealers aren’t getting that panicked phone call,” Adams says. “Customers are much happier… they’re finally able to do everything we said they could do with telematics.”

On the training front, this has helped fleet managers identify which operators may require additional training on particular pieces of equipment.

“They can take a simple report and identify where their training needs are,” Adams says.

Next steps
During the event, Volvo CE announced its bold “Xploring 3 Zeros 10X” goals, which includes zero accidents, zero unplanned downtime and zero emissions stemming from its equipment; while achieving 10 times the efficiency on the jobsite. Future telematics solutions are a key part of the company’s efforts to achieve its 3 Zeros 10x goals. Adams says Volvo CE is always working towards providing further value with more predictive maintenance data, with the goal that it will eventually result in assisting companies with having no unscheduled downtime.

“That’s where we’re taking it even further – to give them complete guidance, so they have all the data available to them so they can plan properly, so nothing goes down prematurely,” Adams says. “For the longest time we were looking at providing guidance on fuel efficiency, but now we’re looking much more at uptime, since it’s much more costly… we really want to be the best uptime provider in the industry.”

New capabilities are constantly being added to ActiveCare Direct, such as oil analysis and component life replacement criteria. The goal is that the telematics system will offer its customers predictive maintenance schedules similar to those used in the airline industry – constantly offering guidance on machines before they fail.

For more information on Volvo CE’s ActiveCare Direct, click here.

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