JLG Industries Launches the First Connected Asset System for AWPs

Telematics systems for fleet owners are nothing new. In fact, many have been adapted for use by equipment owners from other industries. However, JLG Industries, McConnellsburg, Pa., has developed the first “connected asset” system customized specifically for aerial work platforms. This system has yet to be trademarked and won't be officially unveiled until ConExpo, but Lift and Access was given a preview of this cutting-edge product.

JLG is embracing the term “connected asset technology” because unlike other telematics systems, it has the ability to remotely communicate with a machine, which makes it possible to gather critical information and, with the support of intelligent back-office systems, make informed decisions affecting the productivity of machines.

Some of the system's key features are on-demand diagnostics and troubleshooting; preventive maintenance alerts based on real-world operating conditions; operating system integration; theft deterrent and recovery; geo-fencing; and GPS location with mapping on various levels (local, regional, national).

Features and benefits

Proven and developed in partnership with MasterTrak of Wood Dale, Ill., the telematics control unit (TCU) provides a two-way communication link to the machine control system using satellite and cellular technology. Information is transmitted over the network to a data center, where it is shared with appropriate users and displayed in various systems, including existing customer operating systems.

The connected asset technology will help JLG customers lower the cost of ownership and increase uptime. Recognizing that the health of the machine is vital to all aspects of operation, JLG's connected asset technology allows fleet owners the ability to not only manage the piece but also recognize a problem prior to a failure. When a fault occurs, the fleet owner can be alerted to a problem even before an end user knows it. This alarm function can be programmed to levels of urgency with appropriate notifications transmitted to devices such as cell phones, PDAs, and computers.

For example, a limit switch malfunction or an overheating engine will alert the fleet owner immediately, while a simple open circuit on the travel horn may not warrant a notification or service call. But the open horncircuit will be logged into the system and displayed the next time the operating system is reviewed.

Another revolutionary feature is the ability to “ping” the machine with JLG's unique on-demand feature. This allows the machine's operating system to be analyzed, which can often determine if there are any issues that require attention. If, for example, a service call comes in with the complaint that the unit will not travel in high speed, the machine can be pinged, and the service technician can determine if the problem is as simple as lowering the boom within the proper work envelope to allow high-speed travel. However, if the error code indicates something requires an on-site visit, the technician can be better prepared and bring the correct parts.

With the continued shortage of technicians, the ability to leverage the knowledge of a centrally located senior advisor is intriguing. Working through the connection, the advisor can look at a computer screen from across the country and help diagnose the problem. Additionally, companies can opt to use JLG's expertise in troubleshooting problems by allowing them to either join in on the same screen display or to “ping” the machine and determine the fault for them.

Another impressive feature of this system is its automatically interfacing troubleshooting guide. When a specific fault code is investigated, a tab appears on the computer diagnostic screen, which allows instant access to a list of recommended troubleshooting steps and appropriate reference to the service manuals. These steps are drawn from JLG's historical service database and automatically updated and ranked by usage.

Increased rental revenue is another benefit of the technology. The system can identify equipment use once it's been called off-rent and determine if it has been used beyond contract. In addition, owners can also be alerted when equipment goes beyond safe operating parameters, pinpointing safety issues and identifying training needs.

JLG's telematics system will be an available option beginning in June on all combustion engine boom lifts that utilize CANbus technology. Currently, this includes boom lifts sold worldwide that are 40 feet and taller, with the exception of the 150HAX. The TCU and associated hardware also will be retrofitable on existing CANbus-equipped machines by authorized installers.

Although the system cannot currently be fully utilized on all other JLG products, it has the ability to work as a more generic TCU. I was told the price for those will be competitive with existing products on the market. JLG does intend to extend this technology to additional product families based on customer demand.

While only the key features of this cutting-edge management tool were discussed, the possibilities to utilize this system seem open-ended. To fully appreciate all of its capabilities, check out the telematics system at JLG's ConExpo booth in Las Vegas.