Interview: DPL Telematics’ Tony Nicoletti discusses data

By Lindsey Anderson08 July 2021

DPL Telematics has been providing technology solutions to the industry for 20 years. Tony Nicoletti, DPL’s director of sales and business development, discusses industry trends and the future of connected fleets with Lindsey Anderson.

Tony Nicoletti, director of sales and business development, recently discussed market trends and what lies next for the company. He also explained the importance of GPS fleet tracking, one of the most-requested services that telematics companies field.

He declared, “The amount of asset theft in the last year is off the charts, it is unbelievable. What we have seen is unprecedented.

“Equipment theft has always been bad, but it got worse when people were out of work or when there have just been more opportunities to grab equipment that is sitting around.

“It is literally every week that we are getting calls about stolen assets, and those are only the ones our customers actually tell us about.”

One of DPL’s customers in Texas had nearly 30 machines stolen off a jobsite over a 12-month period. 

Silicon Valley-based DPL Telematics has concentrating on with data, hardware, software and more for the past two decades for industries that primarily comprise construction, dealers, mining, oil and gas, rail, rentals and service. 

The company recently showcased its newest innovation, Bluetooth Enabled Asset Management (BEAM), at the 2021 World Of Concrete exhibition. BEAM works by combining small Bluetooth tags and DPL’s AssetView Max software to allow users the ability to track assets via web-based software.

Asset Command There is a trend for Asset Command, the asset tracking and management software

Whenever AssetView Max (DPL’s wireless monitoring and tracking system) is in range of a Bluetooth tag, it will detect and log it in proximity or within the same geofence. A variety of tag sizes are available and can be affixed on ancillary equipment, attachments, buckets and tools. Most tags are active and ready to use straight out of the box.

Nicoletti explained, “The AssetView Max is the longest lasting, self-contained GPS tracking solution available, delivering nearly a decade of battery life without sacrificing two-way communications or real-time alerts.

“Its rugged design and affordable price point allow anybody to easily track nearly anything, regardless of its power source. Customers control their monthly subscription with the option to deactivate and reactivate as needed without penalty, which is ideal for seasonal- or demand-based usage.”

This development is just one of many that DPL has in its pipeline. 

Lindsey Anderson: What are the biggest telematic trends for the access and rental industries?

Tony Nicoletti: There are several. One of the big ones that you see more and more of is getting J1939 data – which is fault codes, potential fuel consumption, and all of this information that comes directly off of the machine reserved for dealers or OEMs – even end-users have access to that information. Data is something that people are increasingly asking for.

Another one is the ability to use telematics to assess tipping. If the machine gets to a dangerous level, you can actually have different angles pre-programmed in. It will tell you if it is being used in an unsafe way, and an alert can be sent out to people - through a text message and/or e-mail - that the machine is operating in a dangerous fashion.

Computer protection Computer protection is offered in different sizes

Another [trend] that we are starting to see more interest in is access control. You can have the machine calibrated so that it actually will not start unless unlocked by somebody with the proper RFID tag, key fob or key code. If someone who is not an authorized operator, or who has not passed the proper training, tries to use that particular type of asset then they cannot get on it and just start driving around.

LA: Although the technology has been around for decades now, the industry is just really starting to embrace, and understand, telematics. What are some key tips for smaller and/or independent rental companies who wish to implement telematics, but feel intimidated by the technicality of it all?

TN: It is something we always work on with customers. Depending on their scale and their knowledge, we always recommend to start simple and then scale off. To jump in the deep end of the pool with telematics data, you may end up drowning fast.

Also, is your company set up to digest all that information? Because we do hear a lot of, “I want as much data as I can get off these machines. If it’s there, I want it”. So we always ask, “What are you going to do with all this information? All this data streaming off the machine, how are you set up to digest it? How are you set up to make use of it?”

Because if they’re not, and they don’t have a process or the right people in place, that data is going to go to waste and there’s going to be more noise than help when sifting through all that data.

LA: Machine location is a hot topic in regard to telematics, but it is one thing to see that your machine is at a specific geolocation and it is another to know it is on the 14th floor of a building being finished. Will it ever be possible to locate machines/tools on various building levels with telematics? And if so, how exactly?

TN: More companies like ourselves are using both GPS and GLONASS, which is essentially Russia’s GPS equivalent. So you are getting twice as many satellites, which is great. It helps with accuracy, but often times you will get altitude as well as the telemetry data.

If you were to look at the raw data, you would see where the machine is, right? So is it at 100 feet? Is it at 50 feet? The challenge that you have is often the mapping may not have that third dimension, like when you look at Google Maps you are looking down. So you are not really at an angle where you can see where the machine is on a building. In a lot of the newer radios that are coming out you are seeing some type of altitude. It’s just not always translating over into a visual a space.

LA: What is next on the agenda for DPL Telematics?

Bluetooth Low Energy products DPL Telematics are aiming to make Bluetooth Low Energy tags smaller, faster and more powerful

TN: We are always on the cutting edge. The big one is these Bluetooth tags we have. We have a variety of tags and now it is all about making them smaller, faster, more affordable and more powerful. Like any type of technology, you would expect that: Moore’s Law – your capacity doubles every 18 months.

What we are trying to do now is take what we have got and make it better. We are working on with our smallest product and we are actually trying to increase its battery life to that of our mid-range product.

So a smaller form factor, which will then be more cost effective, but still gives the same bang as a mid-sized unit. This is our battery power tracking product, which is on the docket for coming out later this year, and we are really excited with what we can do with that.

LA: Anything else that we have not covered that you would like to mention?

TN: I would touch on – because it’s sometimes overlooked – when people are getting started and jumping into telematics, often they are only looking at their lifts or their trailers. But there is a holistic approach, and this kind of goes back to the idea of that connected jobsite.

Okay, so you’ve got your trailers equipped with telematics, but what else? The trailers have to be towed by something. Did you consider tracking your trucks? And then the trucks also transport the equipment.

So it is the idea of not looking at telematics as a one-off for each asset type. Instead, you should be looking at your entire fleet and how you might potentially use it, and then start with one asset and begin to move from trailers to your equipment or trailers, to your trucks or trucks to your trailers – however you are going to do it. But there is the connected approach within your entire fleet that should be addressed.

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