Coates has begun the installation at scale of a newly developed retrofit telemetry device designed to give customers greater insight into the performance and utilisation of their hire equipment. Find out why Coates is investing in this technology and discover some of the clever design features that are benefiting Coates customers.
In 2019 Coates began searching for a new type of retrofit telemetry device to complement their overall IoT deployment. It needed to be a device that could be retrofitted to its existing mobile fleet, allowing customers to reduce operating costs, find new project efficiencies, and maximise the value of their rental equipment.
The challenges Coates faced in delivering this technology included finding a device that:
Without a suitable telemetry product available at the time, Coates partnered with Tasmanian-based engineering house Definium Technologies to design and manufacture a bespoke solution.
Following a successful prototype testing phase, Coates funded the engineering and production of 5,000 devices in FY21. The company has now taken delivery of these units and to complete the planned telemetry retrofit, a total of 12,500 units will be manufactured and installed during the next 12 months, across Coates’ remaining eligible fleet
According to Joshua Tompkins, Product Owner – Industrial IoT at Coates, some unique design features make the Coates telemetry device stand out from other products that are available today.
Speed of installation was an important factor in the selection of this design. “Installing Coates bespoke telemetry device across our entire fleet is expected to save the equivalent of 12 years of labour, compared to using some of the popular off-the-shelf products,” Joshua says. “But the original Coates brief called for a device that could be installed in 15 minutes or less and we’re already averaging under 10 minutes. As we gain momentum, I expect that time could drop to as little as five minutes.”
A scannable data matrix code on the external housing for each device is creating additional efficiencies by eliminating the need to manually enter the serial numbers for each device. “Using our in-house maintenance app MyFleet, this matrix allows each device to be very quickly mapped and associated with the piece of equipment it will be installed on, shaving even more time off installation,” says Joshua.
To preserve battery power, each Coates telemetry device intermittently checks for vibration, only recording data when the equipment is in use. However, given the diversity of the Coates fleet, calibrating each device to determine when it is operational proved to be another significant challenge for the design team at Definium Technologies.
“These devices may be fitted to equipment ranging from small welders and generators, right through to large earthmoving equipment,” Joshua explains. “And as you would expect, the vibration created by some of the smaller equipment will vary significantly from a large roller that vibrates by design. It was also going to be impossible to mandate precisely where each device would be installed on the each piece of equipment.”
How calibration works across the entire Coates fleet is actually quite clever. To calibrate each device, the installer simply uses an included magnet to put the device in calibration mode while they idle the equipment. The telemetry device is then programmed to begin sampling vibrations, creating a base threshold for all future operation.
These telemetry devices will initially be retrofitted to a diesel fleet, but Coates’ large range of electric equipment presents opportunities to capture additional telemetry data over time. “Whether customers want to measure fuel tank levels, battery health, or monitor engine diagnostics, we need to be able to adapt and scale the capability of these devices as demand grows and customer needs change,” says Joshua.
To future-proof this technology, an additional pre-wired expansion port was built into the design. The port allows Coates to add sensors for an individual machine, without having to replace the device. Combined with Australian manufacturing and rapid installation, this feature gives customers access to a much more sustainable and cost-effective telemetry solution in years to come.
Coates recent telemetry investment builds on an ongoing commitment to bring increasingly IoT-enabled technologies and platforms to customers. Discover how telemetry can support your next major project, or reach out to Coates today.
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