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14 October 2019

Machine connectivity becoming increasingly vital, says Volvo CE

First publishedon www.AggBusiness.com
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Volvo CE says that machine control systems help operators achieve more accurate results

Connectivity has become such an essential feature that if you are not connected, you simply cannot perform to the high levels required of a modern job site.

That is the view of Catrin Nilsson, manager, connected solutions platform at Volvo Construction Equipment (CE), which recently achieved the landmark of 150,000 connected machines out of parent company Volvo Group's total of one million.

Nilsson says machine data can now provide customers with all the help they need to boost fuel efficiency, uptime and productivity.

"Advanced prognostics even allows us to analyse trends to the point where we know not only why a component might break down but also predict when it might happen," she adds. "The number of machines equipped with machine control system applications such as Load Assist, Haul Assist, DigAssist is growing every day. On top of that we provide the customer with fleet services related to uptime, such as CareTrack and Active Care."

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Catrin Nilsson, manager, connected solutions platform at Volvo CE

Prognostics is still one of the biggest areas of focus at the moment, according to Nilsson, who says that finding patterns in the behaviour of machines so that failure can be prevented is vital in the construction business and that every second of downtime costs money. She gives the example of an asphalt laying project in the US, where a specific time frame has been given to carry out the work. So if a paver breaks down it is not only slowing down the entire project, at a huge cost, but it also gives additional penalties if the time frame is exceeded.

Outside factors can also impact on connectivity. Environmental regulations such as the China IV emissions standard, for example, requires machine manufacturers to provide data based on the Chinese Beidou satellite navigation system, which broadens the connectivity offer.

Nilsson says that the biggest challenge for connectivity is that different markets and regions diverge on the quality and regulations surrounding their mobile network.

"Even when 5G connectivity is enabled on our machines, the service won’t be available everywhere," Nilsson adds. "In many ways, it’s easier for us in construction, than say Volvo Trucks, as we tend to have a pre-defined area of operation rather than having to travel long distances. In sectors such as mining, the primary challenge is securing connectivity in remote locations or deep underground."

In five to ten years she says that connectivity could have changed the way companies such as Volvo CE do business.

"Maybe we don’t just sell machines," she adds. "Instead we sell a service paid by the hour. By asking our customers at the point of sale: ‘What do you want to achieve for your site?’, we can then offer a combined package that helps them achieve their goals. In many ways, construction is the perfect place to explore these new business models. Because with clearly defined parameters and job site targets, it’s easier to work out the best solution to help you achieve those targets."

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