Boom Operations - Survey shows telematics helpful but under-utilized


Boom Operations - Survey shows telematics helpful but under-utilized

Source: FleetAnswers For fleets that have trucks equipped with booms and buckets, the cost to keep the truck's engine up and running is just one of the costs associated with the vehicle. Fleet managers overseeing these vehicles also must maintain the boom, which is vital to the overall function of the truck, and they must ensure that the boom is being used appropriately for the task at hand.

Telematics is often considered a solution for monitoring fuel usage and mapping the location of vehicles. While it can serve this function for vehicles equipped with booms, the right telematics system can also monitor the boom operations themselves. This can lead to decreased maintenance costs and increased efficiency on the job, as well as a better overall knowledge of how much use the boom is getting.

A recent survey performed by Utilimarc shows how fleet managers are using telematics to monitor boom operations. A closer look at the survey results will show those who are considering adding telematics to their buckets and diggers some of the benefits they would receive by doing so.

Telematics Can Be used to Monitor PTO

Any fleet managers knows the dangers of idle time, yet boom trucks often must sit idle when using the bucket or digger. While the engine is not engaged in driving, it is engaged in working the boom. Monitoring Power Take Off (PTO) time is crucial to understanding whether or not the idle time is productive time.

Telematics systems installed on booms can measure PTO. This gives valuable insight into the lifespan of the boom, the effectiveness of the vehicle and the way the vehicle is being used. With PTO monitoring, fleets can ensure that the stationary idling time is not simply using up the fuel budget, but is actually actively supporting the company's efforts. It can also be used to verify employee time sheets and ensure that traveling PTO events are being performed as they should be.

Of the companies surveyed, nine indicated they used their telematics systems to monitor PTO, which was a 33.3 percent positive response. Out of the 27 people who responded, 66.7 percent, or 18 respondents, indicated they did not use telematics in this way.

Telematics Offers Additional Ways to Monitor Boom Usage

Yet PTO is just one way to use telematics to help with boom operations monitoring. The survey also asked the respondents if they used their telematics to monitor boom usage in any way. Only six out of 28, or 21.4 percent, indicated that they did. The remaining 22, or 78.6 percent, indicated they did not.

One option to monitor boom usage is to install boom stow switches. Five of the six who indicated a positive response indicated this was their mentoring method of choice. Other ways to monitor boom usage that the survey respondents indicated included:

  • Hydraulic pressure switches
  • PTO hours
  • PTO operated switch
  • Comparison of boom out of stow hours with PTO hours

Interestingly, many of the people surveyed indicated they did not perform monitoring on their boom usage. Some indicated that preventative maintenance is performed entirely on a calendar cycle, regardless of the amount of usage the boom had.

While Benefits Are Abundant, Few Are Embracing Telematics

In spite of the potential benefits of telematics on boom operations monitoring, the survey indicated that the majority of the companies surveyed were not yet using them. Of the 28 total responses, only 10, or 35.7 percent, indicated they currently had telematics devices on their buckets or diggers. The remaining 18, or 64.3 percent, had not installed these devices.

Fleet managers who are looking to make the most out of their boom and bucket trucks need to consider the advantages of installing telematics to monitor boom usage. With the right system, fleet managers can:

  • Perform preventative maintenance based on use, not calendar dates, to lower costs and increase lifespan.
  • Ensure that idle time is being used productively by monitoring PTO hours.
  • Ensure that employee time sheets are in line with the work performed.

These benefits stand to save the fleet substantially, making telematics and boom operations monitoring an area worth considering.

Download Boom Operation Monitoring Survey