For the past decade crane manufacturers have been grappling with the advent of telematics technology. These systems produce valuable data that can affect many areas of crane ownership, including fleet management, remote diagnostics, GPS tracking and even safety. But for the most part, crane owners have been slower to grasp this technology and to take advantage of what it offers. Today, most telematics users are the operators of large-scale crane fleets that rely on this data to help manage their equipment and businesses more efficiently.
All the major crane OEMS offer telematics with varying data points. Some offer telematics systems through third-party vendors and others manage their system in-house.
Kobelco’s KCROSS system allows for daily reporting with a multitude of data points including monitoring operation hours (detailed by propel, swing, craning, rigging and idling) as well as fuel consumption monitoring and maintenance due alerts.
To assist in standardizing telematics systems on construction equipment, the American Equipment Manufacturers Association (AEM) and the Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) have created a mixed-fleet telematics standard that recently received approval from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to be accepted as a global standard. Data points include location, operating hours, fuel usage, distance traveled, caution codes, idle time, engine operating data and a variety of diagnostic codes.
AEM and AEMP are now working to include cranes in this standard. The SC&RA and several crane OEMs are working with AEM on this project. A crane telematics standard will likely be introduced within the next year.
American Cranes & Transport recently surveyed the major crane manufacturers about their respective telematics systems and the specifics of these programs.
Kobelco Cranes introduced its KCROSS (Kobelco Crane Remote Observation Satellite System) telematics system in 2011 as a standard feature in the G-Series crawler cranes. The system was demonstrated to customers for the first time at the G-Series product launch at ConExpo in 2011. Kobelco said it was the first crawler crane manufacturer to offer the system as standard equipment.
“During these seven successful, field-proven years of KCROSS operation, the system has been applauded by Kobelco crane owners throughout North America for the abundance of useful information it provides in a simple, easy to understand format,” according to Greg Ballweg, general manager of sales for Kobelco.
Information provided includes viewing and printing daily, weekly and periodic reports; monitoring operation hours (detailed by propel, swing, craning, rigging and idling); fuel consumption monitoring; delivering notification of events or “maintenance due” alerts; crane location and movement; building a “geo fence” with movement alarm around the crane; assisting in service troubleshooting; and customizing maintenance records and alerts.
Kobelco contends that the best part of the KCROSS system is that it’s free. There’s no subscription fee or expiration of service, and it’s transferable.
However, the Kobelco telematics system is not available on the Manitowoc products built by Kobelco for Manitowoc.
Ballweg said that Kobelco crane owners and their fleet managers played an instrumental role in the development of KCROSS.
“Their feedback and direction allowed Kobelco engineers to develop a system that was user friendly, customer oriented and what they wanted,” said Ballweg. “And since KCROSS is a Kobelco designed and built system, it allows for customization of information and reports. Kobelco engineers have already facilitated requests of some Kobelco fleet owners.”
Kobelco contends that KCROSS has the potential to enhance a crane’s resale value.
“The original Kobelco crane owner can use the KCROSS information to illustrate a positive story about their ownership experience, application usage and maintenance record,” said Ballweg. “Since KCROSS can breakdown hours on the hour meter by application, the original owner can show a prospective buyer what percentage of total time was spent on less stressful applications, such as idling or just holding a load (rigging). And since KCROSS is transferable, this also becomes a desirable feature for the second or third owner of a Kobelco crane throughout its life span. The second or third owner of the crane simply contacts Kobelco or their Kobelco crane dealer to establish a new KCROSS username and password for its new “no-charge” account.
Liebherr supplies an electronic interface for telemetry data for nearly all mobile crane models in its production range, according to Wolfgang Pfister, head of strategic marketing and communications, Liebherr-Werk Nenzing. One of the major benefits of this is that systems from various telemetry service providers can process the data it supplies.
“Liebherr cranes are prepared using the established FMS standard of leading European commercial vehicle manufacturers,” said Pfister. “This means it will be possible to integrate the latest mobile crane generation into the customer’s existing FMS system without any problem. The benefits for crane owners include recording and visualization of crane data such as localization, operating condition, mileage, down times and lots more.”
LiDAT is the data transmission and positioning system for Liebherr machines and the machines of other manufacturers. Based on state-of-the-art data transmission technology, LiDAT provides information on the location and operation of machines, enabling their efficient management, optimal operation scheduling and remote supervision.
With LiDAT all the most important machine data can be viewed at all times. Data is updated several times a day and can be accessed using a web browser. Particularly valuable information, such as when a machine leaves a predefined zone or notifications about specific operating modes and parameters, can be automatically delivered by email.
For crawler cranes and foundation equipment, Liebherr offers additional packages such as overview of safety-relevant information; documentation of overloads, violation of wind speeds, etc.; LML overview of sensor warnings, LML assembly operation, etc.; additional process recording data transmitted via LiDAT to the reporting software; and additional web service packages allowing a direct integration in an ERP system capable of web service.
Terex IC-1 Remote
Terex Cranes is collaborating with customers to develop the new IC-1 Remote telematics system for Demag and Terex mobile cranes. The IC-1 Remote telematics system will be formally rolled out in 2018 to offer crane operators and owners a detailed overview of their connected fleet, according to the company.
“Until the launch, a pilot phase is being used as a learning experience for both Demag and for customers,” said Dustin Hamburg, Terex’s associate marketing manager of North America. “Customers will be able to give direct feedback and suggestions to Demag to implement in the launch version of the system. This collaborative approach has been chosen to provide customers with a chance to directly influence the system with their real-life insights and invaluable input.”
Through this process of testing, feedback and continuous development, Demag aims to create the most intuitive crane fleet telematics solution on the market – with all the features and data that today’s connected crane customers want – and need, Hamburg said.
The IC-1 Remote telematics system is designed to deliver an improved overview of fleet assets. Users and owners will be able to save time and resources by managing and monitoring their fleets remotely. IC-1 Remote will include GPS positioning, hours of operation, wind speed, crane configuration information and more.
Hamburg said IC-1 Remote will offer remote diagnostics to troubleshoot and diagnose cranes remotely and provide remote operation support to allow operators to receive remote support and online assistance from Demag service technicians. Advanced features include remote service access for control system maintenance.
Introduced in 2010, Tadano’s telematics communications system is known as Hello-Net.
Tadano’s Hello-Net system was designed to give crane owning companies an asset management tool that provides operational and logistical information. Benefits include multi-machine management capabilities for tracking geographic location, maintenance planning and scheduling, operational visibility, work history and report generation.
“Hello-Net is an efficient asset management tool that provides valuable operational and logistical information about our cranes to our customers,” said Jay Shiffler, vice president of marketing. “The system benefits include multi-machine management capabilities for tracking geographic location, maintenance planning and scheduling, operational visibility, work history and report generation. When users log into Hello-Net the raw data is shown in an actionable format that when used, serves to enhance our customer’s business through quality crane and fleet management.”
Hello-Net data is currently collected via satellite and mobile communications systems (GSM). But Shiffler said Tadano is transitioning fully to GSM that will enable more immediate access to crane information where satellite communications are only updated several times a day.
“Moving to the GSM will one day allow customer support staff direct remote access to the crane, providing technicians the ability to troubleshoot and perform repairs as well as provide software updates remotely,” he said. “Tadano’s Hello-Net system is provided free with the purchase of our cranes.”
The data provided by Hello-Net telematics is equally important to Tadano customer service, design and manufacturing operations.
“The ability to receive actual performance and operational information is essential to understanding how our cranes and crane components are functioning in the field,” Shiffler said. “Using the data, we can detect and provide necessary product updates and modifications on current model cranes as well as feedback data to improve future product development.”
Link-Belt’s telematics initiative began in earnest in 2012 when it first announced its partnership with A1A Software and its telematics portal, iCraneTrax powered by Link-Belt Pulse. By ConExpo 2017, all Link-Belt cranes were telematics capable.
Since the beginning of implementation, the focus for Link-Belt has always been to provide crane owners the assurance that all data points and fault codes relayed from each enacted machine was proprietary to the crane owner; in other words, the crane owner’s own the data. Furthermore, the crane owner can determine whether they share the data with their Link-Belt distributor and/or Link-Belt.
“Telematics is no longer a nice option. It has become a tool for the owner to maximize their equipment investment by monitoring fuel use up to component wear and predictive maintenance,” said Bruce Kabalen, manager marketing and technical communication. “Link-Belt’s telematics detail unquestionably leads the crane industry and our easy-to-use portal at iCraneTrax.com gives all owners unmatched capabilities regardless of fleet size.”
Link-Belt offers choices for coverage that range from a very simple program with basic information, to comprehensive needs of customers with expanded requirements.
Link-Belt’s success with telematics has been the flexibility it offers to customers, Kabalen said. Link-Belt offers choices for coverage that range from a very simple program with basic information, to comprehensive needs of customers with expanded requirements.
Link-Belt also wanted to ensure the valuable resources of the Link-Belt Distributor Network were optimized in the process. Of course, basic information – location, operating hours, odometers, fuel etc. – are all included, but tons of “crane-specific” data is also at the customer’s disposal on an easy-to-use dashboard.
The most recent development to telematics on Link-Belt cranes is Pulse 2.0, which debuted at ConExpo 2017. One of the most exciting enhancements with Link-Belt Pulse 2.0 is the ability to service and update a crane’s software remotely, Kabalen said. The system includes a Wi-Fi connection and uses the serial number of the unit to determine whether any updates are available and downloads/installs to the appropriate controller. Software maintenance can be accomplished in the field without a service call or bringing the crane in for service.
Manitowoc’s CraneSTAR represents a new era of data management and planning for crane owners around the world by providing real-time crane fleet information to engineers and operators, regardless of location, the company said.
Manitowoc’s proprietary telematics system helps users to reduce costs by monitoring critical data, recognizing trends and enabling smarter decision making. CraneSTAR does this by providing information on numerous factors, including engine use, location changes, daily productivity, critical systems and much more.
Crane owners can keep their equipment running longer by utilizing automated maintenance alerts from the machine’s service meter. Custom function timers are also available to track usage hours for hoist, swing and drive motors.
CraneSTAR’s hardware is weatherproof and meets or exceeds industry environmental standards, the company said, as well as SAE J1455 specifications for mechanical, electrical and environmental design and use. With its IP67 sealed, compact aluminum enclosure, CraneSTAR is built to withstand harsh environments.
Built with technology that’s exclusive to Manitowoc, CraneSTAR remains one of the most extensive OEM-produced crane asset management systems available today, according to Manitowoc.