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Innovations

Industry Outlook: Future Technologies in Access Equipment

Blog Posts - Aug 21

Industry Outlook: Future Technologies in Access Equipment

Jennifer Stiansen
Director of Marketing
____
JLG Industries

We're within 5-10 years from a major turnover in the demographic of the construction site worker, and that handoff is going to be to a generation that has grown up with computers and smart devices equipped with touch screen technology, as well as just about any app imaginable to assist them in navigating every day personal and work tasks.

The continuous evolution of equipment through innovative, integrated technologies, are going to make MEWPs (mobile elevating work platforms) and telehandlers increasingly intuitive to use and operate. 

Below are insights from Rob Messina, Senior Vice President Product Development and Product Management, JLG, on future technologies in the access equipment industry.

Future_technologies
Where are is the access industry at with the development of autonomous machines? 
The industry has progressed in the last handful of years in the form of trials and demonstrators that tackle real world job site challenges using autonomy. While we are not seeing fully autonomous equipment yet, we are seeing equipment that delivers moments of autonomy, though these are in their earliest stages. 

At JLG, there is substantial observation happening at the job site level to identify the “jobs-to-be-done” that semi-autonomous and eventually fully autonomous equipment will be the solution for. There’s still a lot of work to be done in this area before we see mainstream use of fully autonomous solutions.

What advancements have been made in the use of sensors on machines? 
Sensing suites continue to be integrated and adopted across all our product lines including telehandlers, scissor, boom and vertical lifts. If we take a look at the auto industry, which construction generally follows, we see the integration of more and more sensors from luxury to value-based models. This increases the volume for sensing technologies, making it more affordable and accelerates the adoption curve in adjacent industries.

Technologies such as object detection sensors, back-up cameras and seat belt/lanyard attachment verification systems are being offered by select manufacturers as options. 

One new technology JLG offers on its MEWPs is its SkySense™ enhanced detection system, which makes operators more aware on the job site by giving them a better sense of their immediate surroundings. Available on most JLG boom and scissor lifts, the system produces an audible and visual alarm that will increase in frequency and reduces the speed of the machine as operators get closer to an object, eventually stopping the machine once an operator is too close to a structure, increasing protection of both people and property.

What is coming in terms of data that can be collected and utilized via telematics? 
Equipment users will begin to see more real time data on machine performance and diagnostics during operation. Based on the data, suggestions will be made for improving performance or conducting maintenance. In general, machines will become increasingly intuitive to operate and maintain. 

At JLG, we're trying to minimize or eliminate the need for service calls. And when a service call is necessary, we want users to be able to easily access and provide the information they need to the technician to minimize downtime. 

Machine location is a hot topic in regard to telematics, will it ever be possible to locate machines/tools on various building levels with telematics? How? 

Absolutely, technology continues to advance rapidly, and this is becoming a reality. There are solutions that provide accurate location information in GPS denied locations (like the 14th floor of a job site) and these technologies will become more affordable over the next decade. The best is yet to come in terms of connected fleets and job sites as it relates to machine location.

What are customers asking for when they discuss telematics and data? 
Telematics provide a wealth of data. That said, data can easily overwhelm a person and be rendered unusable if it’s not easily digestible or the person on the receiving end doesn’t have the time to analyze it and determine how to action it. 

Customers are therefore asking us to not only provide a means to collect and disseminate the data but also a way to analyze and suggest actions based on the data that helps them to improve productivity, safety, maintenance, fleet management and the overall performance of their job sites and business. Raw data in and of itself is no longer desirable. 

What are your thoughts on data-sharing?
While no customer is required to provide equipment data back to the equipment original manufacturer (OEM), every OEM is interested in its’ customers sharing the information because of how useful it is for product development. For example, shared data can help to improve, and sometimes reinvent, an OEM’s products, as well as to help develop new, more innovative equipment solutions in the drive towards tomorrow’s fully connected job sites and smart cities.

That said, it is unlikely that universal data sharing will be easily achievable any time soon. There is a tremendous amount of pressure to monetize data, and since there is no clear path to monetization, the uncertainly around this topic results in guarding one’s proprietary machine performance data. We believe the “how” will need to be solved before the industry will ultimately share data for altruistic purposes.     

What’s coming next? 
The best way to help move the access industry forward is for the entire ecosystem from manufacturers to rental companies to end-users and suppliers to continually integrate new technologies into their everyday lives. Embracing new technologies, despite the learning curve, will help accelerate adoption, which in turn will make new technologies more affordable. 

Take our consumer lives as an example: We are increasingly embracing connected technology. We have smart speakers, watches, refrigerators, thermostats, doorbells, lights, and more. Our cars are mobile computers, collecting and sharing streams of data. The more people become familiar with technology features and the productivity benefits gained from them in their personal lives, the easier it will be to transition to incorporating similar connectivity on the job site.

To learn more about JLG products and services, click here. To see JLG products and technologies at work in a virtual environment, click here.

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