Telematics technology for your heavy equipment fleet

Ten years ago, satellite was considered the best—and perhaps only—option to track construction equipment across the country and international borders. The coverage was reliable, but satellite constellations cost billions to launch into space. The price for usage was steep. Fleets, therefore, had to limit transmissions by size, duration, and frequency to manage expenses. Cellular platforms offered a more affordable alternative, but fleets were still hesitant to trade these cost savings for seamless coverage. A decade ago, mainstream cellular was 2G with 3G starting to percolate. Phones with Bluetooth were considered “cutting edge,” but the actual phone numbers were not portable and 1MB data plans with pooling were not affordable. The dual-mode platform was merely a concept for having the best of both worlds—speed when you have it and coverage when you need it most.
As technology adoption has increased, what was once considered cutting edge, too expensive, and impractical to deploy, is now considered mainstream. Tracking devices have become compact, ruggedized, and maintenance-free with the advent of solar-powered, rechargeable batteries. The capabilities and options for deploying technology have multiplied by tenfold, if not more. Small construction fleet owners are able to provide the same type of reports and data to their clients as larger competitors.


Many questions have raised after all the problems technological advances in M2M have solved during the past 10 years. For instance, why is the market not adopting technology faster? Why have sensors not become more diverse with deeper local area communication between devices? Why hasn’t telematics exploded across the scene of the construction industry down to every skid, steer, and light pole? One reason is a lack of a standard communications platform. Cellular has CDMA and GSM. Wireless protocols include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee. RFID consists of active and passive tags. While there will always be different providers of communications services, in order for M2M to become more ubiquitous, it will require more convergence of platforms. Moore’s Law will do its job in terms of advancing technology and lowering costs, but creating an “Internet of Things” will require more standardization.
One way to indirectly drive standardization within the primary M2M communications platforms (satellite and cellular) is by creating a Multi-network Access Point Platform (MAPPTM). Simply put, this is a platform that seamlessly translates and integrates the communications from a diverse network of service partners into a uniform set of commands and information. This facilitates a uniform platform for provisioning, billing, and multi-mode access for M2M applications, enabling access to network and terminal management tools for integration. MAPP is then coupled with standard modems that have the same footprint, connectors, power input, and programming environment. A platform such as this eliminates the worry about VHS versus L-Band satellite communications, or GSM versus CDMA cellular communications. Manufacturers and partners are able to drop in the appropriate modem corresponding with the optimal network based on geography, message size, and delivery speed for unrivaled ease of use and flexibility.


For the past 14 years, ORBCOMM has been part of this telematics evolution. We were monitoring construction assets across the globe when they still called it the World Wide Web. We were connecting business to assets and their location before the term “Internet of Things” was coined. Our technology can be found on almost every continent of the world. And just as the construction industry has changed over the past decade and a half, so have our solutions.
Managing a heavy equipment fleet needs big communication pipes to manage expensive equipment engine data. You need coverage in all parts of the U.S. and the world. You need to be able to ping location and status without connection to a running engine. In the heavy equipment market, ORBCOMM is the network provider of choice for some of the largest Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in the industry. OEMs use our global communications networks to track and monitor the location, status and performance of their equipment worldwide—even in the most remote locations. Our telematics solutions can address the most basic information needs to more sophisticated monitoring requirements. Whether the company has 50 or 50,000 pieces of equipment, ORBCOMM enables its customers to gain visibility over their fleet, improve operational efficiency, reduce unauthorized usage and theft, and maximize cost savings.
Our comprehensive solution provides advanced data reporting and analytics capabilities to support major OEMs, as well as their dealers and customers, through a comprehensive web portal. These OEM partnerships exemplify ORBCOMM’s standing as the leader in heavy equipment telematics and the top choice for high-performance wireless connectivity among the largest global OEMs in the heavy equipment industry.
From ruggedized and solar-powered tracking systems to robust imbedded telematics solutions and software reporting platforms, we are constantly focused on solving the market’s needs. As an industry, we are on the cusp of something incredible. We have only scratched the surface of the power of M2M and the “Internet of Things.” Unlocking its value can only be done by deploying solutions to determine what is optimal for your fleet and customers. As you begin to test different solutions, you will begin to understand which satellite and cellular networks are optimal for your fleet’s behaviors, and which devices can provide the tracking, locating, and monitoring technology demanded for your operations. Can you really afford not to deploy new M2M communications and tracking technology on your heavy equipment fleet?

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For More Information contact PermaCrete at 800.607.3762, or visit

Modern Contractor Solutions, JULY 2014
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