Cultures around the world are evolving regardless of political climates and regulation. A common thread in the cultural tapestry is technology. Our lives are dominated by technology of some type, be it smart phones, personal computers or our vehicles. With each passing year, technology seems to morph exponentially in all the products we use. A product which exhibits mass amounts of evolution is our daily transportation, the car. Average cars now have 30-50 computers in them, while luxury cars have upwards of 100 computers. These electronic control modules digest inputs from dozens of sensors to determine what in the vehicle’s interior or exterior environment needs attention. Dashboards have migrated from analogue gauges to hybrid analogue/digital or full-digital functionality.
Traditionally, the heavy equipment industry has always followed these trends by 10 years or so, but that scenario has changed. Automotive-inspired technology is being integrated in heavy equipment and construction environments, reducing the gap by five or less years. What we experienced in our automobiles has transitioned into the cab and systems of heavy equipment, previously primitive in comparison. Heavy equipment operators now step out of their sophisticated automobiles and climb into cabs of sophisticated earth movers or other prime movers. They experience and come to expect the same comforts, safety, power and efficiency they receive from their personal vehicles, including climate control, heated and cooled seats. Similarly, systems are as controlled as those found in automobiles.
New equipment technology has become an enabler for profitable business. Heavy equipment fleet managers expect improved fuel efficiency, production, longevity, reduced emissions and greater resale values. Governmental regulations have prompted the greatest advancement in engine controls for reducing emissions, while influencing economy to pacify the efficiency conscious fleet manage, thus increasing production and lowering cost per ton. Onboard control and diagnostics are inherent to large color monitors having unique user friendly interfaces for operators and technicians servicing the equipment. Traction and steering control complement engine management systems for precise performance control coupled with optimized power, production and economy.
Komatsu’s KOMTRAX telematics solution is integrated for reporting systems’ status to fleet managers and/or manufacturer distributors. Additionally, fleet managers may remotely restrict machine movement by setting a geographical fence to establish a predetermined area for authorized operation and preventing unwanted, unauthorized movement or transportation.
Unexpectedly, as the industry has transformed, technicians have become a commodity and our industry is faced with shortages of willing and capable technology savvy diagnosticians. While this has global impacts, shortages are especially severe in North America, and there has never been a better time to become a technician. Technology ultimately has led to profitable and rewarding potentials for those desiring challenge. The more we have the more we want. Ultimately, there is no end to the potential.