Smart technology is a fluid category in the off-road equipment sector, and depending on a manufacturer’s definition of “smart,” it can encompass a wide range of products. Smart products, in general, have a variety of sensing and decision-making capabilities that allow the machine to adapt and respond autonomously. As a result, smart technology will continue to be adopted rapidly in every off-road equipment sector.
Top 5 Smart Technologies Adopted in Off-Road Equipment Industry
Global Positioning –
Global positioning is a critical tool for a variety of off-road equipment applications because it allows for:
- Autonomous or semi-autonomous machinery operation
- Fleet communication in places not having cellular service (such as underground mining operations
- Improved accuracy (such as precision agriculture)
- Increased safety by preventing equipment collisions
- Remote fleet tracking capabilities, which are especially important in harsh environments where worker safety is a concern
GNSS technologies are turning more sophisticated & accurate, with new features such as integrated wireless capabilities that allow machinery data to be sent to smartphones and other mobile devices. Komatsu, for instance, 2020 launched iMC 2.0, a novel version of its iMC system that is GNSS-based. The new iteration improves on its predecessor’s accuracy and operability, boosting productivity & efficiency even more.
Off-road equipment makers are looking to incorporate related technologies in products like excavators, tractors, and haulers as driverless consumer vehicles become a growing focus of the auto industry – most importantly, to improve project efficiency and worker safety. Liebherr-International, Caterpillar, Komatsu, Deere, Kubota, and Sandvik are among the leading off-road equipment manufacturers working on autonomous machinery. For these purposes, many OEMs are forming partnerships with or purchasing stakes in technology companies.
Most autonomous products have recently hit the market or are expected to do so soon. Consider the following scenario:
Deere announced a new, completely automated version of their 8R tractor in January 2022, exclusively for agricultural applications, which will be available for purchase later that year. According to the company, the tractor is the first-ever driverless, “farmer-free” tractor on the market.
Predictive Maintenance –
The use of monitoring software that can collect and analyze machine data to provide predictive maintenance alerts is a key strategy to reduce equipment downtime & maintenance costs. Monitoring different off-road machines’ condition has a number of advantages, including:
- Component replacement intervals and extending machine lifespan
- Augmenting planned maintenance schedules
- Reducing safety risks
- Increasing machine efficiency
- Increasing the volume of time machines in operation
- Decreasing machine downtime
Various software developers (including Microsoft & Siemens) offer CMMSs which aid in the remote monitoring, analysis, and collection of machine data. In addition, the larger OEMs include remote monitoring as part of their maintenance services, which is the first step toward complete predictive maintenance optimization.
Advanced Software and Data Collection Technology –
The operability of smart off-road equipment is based on advanced software & data collection technologies, which are especially important in the performance of autonomous machinery. Advanced data collection and analytics capabilities of the software, when combined with cameras, sensors, and other smart equipment traits, improve the information available to operators for greater precision, safety, and efficiency.
Many of the most recent off-road equipment models emphasize the significance of improving efficiency via advanced technology.
Terex announced in May 2021 that its rough terrain cranes could be equipped with the T-Link telematics platform, which will offer consumers real-time information about their cranes’ performance.
Drones, also called unmanned aerial vehicles, are increasingly being used by commercial farmers & managers of construction as well as mining operations to:
- trees, inventory plants, & other resources, as well as monitor crop health
- trace livestock or machines
- monitor farm perimeters or job sites and prevent illegal activities (e.g., poaching, trespassing, or unauthorized mining or logging)
Drone performance will carry on improving as drone-sensing technologies improve in precision. This, in turn, may result in rapid adoption, especially in agricultural applications. Consider this scenario:
Agricultural drones from XAG are used for digital field mapping, spreading fertilizer, sowing seeds, and spraying pesticides in 42 countries and regions. In addition, the company announced in January 2022 that its agricultural drones would be used in a reforestation project in Brazil and a rice cultivation task in Russia.
Owing to such smart technology trends, off-road equipment is in great demand and has wide application in different end-use industries like mining, agriculture, construction, forestry, etc.