Bell Fleetm@tic® - letting technology work for you

Published: 13 August 2017

Not too long ago the thought of being able to manage one's heavy equipment fleet remotely by computer would have seemed far-fetched. Yet today this technology is so readily available and beneficial that managing a fleet successfully without it should be unthinkable.

This is according to Bell Equipment's Fleetm@tic® Product Manager, Philip Nel, who says that modern day telematics has taken fleet management to another level by offering accurate and in-depth data that would previously have been too time consuming and laborious to gather and assimilate.

Bell Equipment was the first original equipment manufacturer to develop its own proprietary fleet management system, having introduced Fleetm@tic® for its range of Articulated Dump Trucks about 12 years ago, and remains a leader in the industry. "With our standard onboard weighing we saw an opportunity for this technology and had the confidence that this is the way that the market would eventually move. With growing competitiveness in the market it is important for customers to have accurate production data so that they can get the fastest return on their capital investment and optimise their operation," says Philip.

Today the company has thousands of machines on Fleetm@tic®, with some operating in far-flung locations such as Greenland and Iceland as well as on a small remote island off the south east coast of Australia. Fleetm@tic® makes use of dual communication using cell phone networks where available, which provides a cost effective and reliable means of transmitting of higher volumes of data. In areas where there is no cell phone network coverage, Bell benefits from pole-to-pole satellite coverage to deliver critical communications.

The company's design philosophy of continuous evolution has seen the system advance over this time to improve its user-friendliness and include real-time monitoring. Fleetm@tic® can work with any modern browser and is compatible with mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. Most recently the system has been extended to cover a customer's whole Bell fleet.

Since different customers have different needs, Bell Fleetm@tic® is available in three packages:

  • The Basic package is available on all Bell-supplied machines and provides customers with machine hours worked per shift, average fuel burn and a fault code report.
  • The Classic package is standard on all new ADTs for two years from date of delivery and provides production data including idle times and average payloads.
  • Premium offers real-time tracking of equipment and detailed operational information for each individual laden and unladen cycle.

Another useful aspect of Fleetm@tic® is that it can be built into a customer's upfront finance package. Bell also supports data export for customers who run fleets of equipment supplied by different OEMs so that they can access their data using whatever software they prefer.

Apart from the obvious uses to track productivity and fuel consumption, Fleetm@tic® can be used to identify areas for driver improvement, which positively impacts on production. When used efficiently Fleetm@tic® can assist with scheduling maintenance and services, enabling Bell to order parts in advance and understand what is happening with a machine's health.

The security benefit of Fleetm@tic® was highlighted in November 2016, when a customer called the Bell Fleetm@tic® office to report a machine stolen in the King William's Town area. "The Fleetm@tic® engineers communicated directly with the machine to obtain its location and this information was passed on to the police. The engineers also sent the machine a disable message to prevent it from starting. The police tracked down the machine and recovered it for the customer," recalls Philip.

Andrew O'Brien, Assistant Maintenance Manager of FWM-Fujairah Workshop Machinery Plant Division, part of Saif Bin Darwish Civil Engineering Contractors based in the United Arab Emirates, has seen firsthand the benefits of Fleetm@tic®. The company has five Bell B50D ADTs and a B40D and has been using the fleet management system for about two years.

"We've been able to take our Fleetm@tic® data and chart it to see trends more easily. It gives us an understanding and detailed insight into production data like never before. We can identify shortfalls in our production output and implement changes where necessary, for example, if we are under payload capacity we can pick it up and take steps to improve. We can also set benchmarks and targets for a variety of areas like tonnage outputs, cycle times, laden and unladen idle times. Using geofencing has allowed us to identify bottlenecks in our operation, pinpoint locations that are slower and investigate our tipping points and see why we can't get in and out faster.

"We can gather performance data on individual operators, remotely gather vital health and production data as well as identify and prevent possible future failures using data such as overloads, speeding and harsh braking. Recently we had a truck with excessive tyre wear and when we looked at our data we saw that the truck had more overloading events that had led to the problem, and we were able to identify how to improve tyre life.

"We've checked the Bell onboard weighing system against our weigh bridges and have found it to be very accurate. Fleetm@tic® is a real benefit. By being able to gather this data we're able to change attitudes and perceptions. We use it to track so many things and it can be a measuring tool to see what improvements and savings have been achieved," he adds.

Philip encourages customers to make contact and arrange a demonstration so that they can see the results for themselves. "Embracing this technology and incorporating it into your daily life will reap cost saving rewards. We understand that not everyone shares our enthusiasm for technology but we have tools to support you through the transformation," he says.