Technology has been helping the construction industry work smarter for decades. We long ago moved from paper and pencil to calculators and computers, from blueprints to electronic plans.

But when it comes to adopting telematics equipment, our industry has been pretty pokey. A 2014 survey by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers found that 62 percent of U.S. construction companies had no plans to implement heavy equipment telematics anytime soon.

More than a quarter said they wouldn’t do so within the next 18 months because they “don’t know how to use it.”



“‘Telematics’ is an industry term. It’s really describing two important things: Data about the equipment it’s on, plus a location component,” says Dave Augustine, Caterpillar Commercial Manager, Connected Services. “In simple terms, the output could be hours and location. With a richer data set, it could be machine health and location.”

Think of it this way:

  1. What is my machine doing? Hardware reveals status and activity, such as if the machine is on or off; hours; fuel burn; alerts and diagnostic codes; etc.
  2. Where is my machine located? GPS satellites provide precise location and movement.

“Then, that all comes into easy-to-read reports and display software, so you can turn binary information into something people can see and use,” Augustine explains.

For contractors, data collected through telematics equipment can be deployed to solve business challenges. Think of what’s stressing you out or causing you to work weekends. Has your equipment ever been stolen? Could your bids be more accurate? Are you having trouble scheduling maintenance? Experiencing too much downtime? Dealing with cowboys at the controls?

Just like other technologies we’ve been using for years, heavy equipment telematics shouldn’t be scary.

“Everybody adopts technology at different rates and for different reasons. That’s OK. Telematics equipment is an enabler. It’s a means to an end: Helping you run a better, more competitive business,” Augustine says.


Tips To Get Started with Telematics Equipment

  • GET CONNECTED: The first step is ensuring you’ve activated your equipment’s powerful built-in capabilities. Your Cat® dealer can onboard you and provide demos on Caterpillar telematics systems.
  • KEEP AN EYE ON IDLE TIME: Start simple by monitoring fuel consumption on a few machines. What’s the idle rate? Are they running at the right RPM range? This is a perfect place to save money—now and over the long haul—since idle time impacts fuel burn, machine hours and service intervals. If a machine idles 50 percent of the time, that’s 50 percent of warranty and 50 percent of service life wasted.
  • READ UP, REACH OUT: Heavy equipment and construction publications have a wealth of articles and blogs about telematics. See what others are saying. If you can, attend a conference or seminar.
  • TRY BEFORE YOU BUY: Request a complimentary trial or rent a machine equipped with telematics. Many dealers stock their rental fleets with newer models.
  • PICK A PROBLEM & YOUR DEALER’S BRAIN: If you want to control costs, reduce risks, improve your operations and better manage your people, you have an ally. Your dealer can do much more than outfit you with machines and parts; he or she can advise you.
  • TAKE THIS SIMPLE QUIZ: There isn't one way to efficiently manage a fleet, whether five machines or 100. Everyone's needs, budgets and experiences are different. The good news is, everyone can improve. Take a few minutes now to answer these simple questions, so you can get a personalized report with suggestions relevant to your technology and telematics comfort level. See how GPS excavators deliver for a Minnesota contractor.


Many companies already are using visualization software to track equipment status, health and location. Others are taking more time—and that’s OK. Let Dave Augustine demystify the term “telematics” and explain how to get connected.

Understanding what’s possible with equipment data


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