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Large Fleets: DPL Tracks Broad Asset Classes for Dealer and Rental Fleets

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PART I Trackunit Builds Out a Construction Equipment Management Software Platform

PART II DPL Tracks Broad Asset Classes for Dealer and Rental Fleets

PART III LHP Delivering Predictive Analytics with Cummins 

Trackunit and many other broad construction telematics and tracking technology players consume data from a broad spectrum of trackers through cloud-to-cloud connections. Some, like Clue Insights, have no tracking hardware at all and make their bones by wrapping cloud functionality around data from fleets connected by other companies’ devices.

Menlo Park, Cal.-based DPL Telematics meanwhile comes to market with cloud software—their web-based interface delivers easy tracking and reporting, geofencing and alerts for low-battery alert, curfew and movement. DPL users can also track assets right from your iOS or Android device.

DPL has innovated and probably focuses more on the devices side though, and their TruTrace technology updates location based on the actual activity and movement of the asset. To extend battery life, this technology automatically sends data less frequently when equipment is stationary.

Tracking devices include:

  • AssetView, for non-powered, exposed assets
  • AssetCommand, for hard-wired assets in Base and Max models
  • FleetViewOBDII, a combined GPS and onboard diagnostics unit useful for accident reconstruction, safety, runtime, idle, distance monitoring and more
  • TITAN, to harvest CAN bus data which is related by satellite to support equipment and service management functions

Small Company for Big Fleets

DPL Telematics has an office staff of five and 20 field sales representatives. And while they may look at penetrating the end user market at some point, they are currently focused strictly on rental firms and dealerships and their relatively larger fleets. The product is sold in the United States, but according to DPL Director of Sales and Marketing Craig DeKarske, the group is looking at international expansion since their SIM cards can support usage in more than 180 countries worldwide. Plans are underway according to DeKarske to expand beyond not just rental centers and dealers to hard-to-serve sectors like tree care, trailers and portable sanitation.

“About 90% of our business is construction related,” DeKarske said. “We really focus on construction. But there's some other markets like transportation that we focus on. Within that construction vertical we focus on everything from tree care to trailers, even portable sanitation which believe it or not, has actually been a really good industry for us the last couple of years.”

DeKarske clarified portable toilets have not been frequent targets of theft.

“It’s for logistics purposes, knowing where your items are,” DeKarske said. “And then also on the portable sanitation side, I've got customers that use it because they go and service it, and it's in the middle of the woods or a field or something and they can't find it. They can't get a hold of the customer, but they can just pull it up on their phone app and get driving directions to right away.”

Once a customer signs up, they are supported in combination by their sales representative and DPL personnel.

“The reps all have their own demo accounts and demo units,” DeKarske said. “But what a customer gets when they sign up besides the units is a 24-hour support, phone number and email address that goes to whoever's covering our support line. We have internal people that do that. Our software is accessed through a web portal that's accessible from any computer so there’s software they had to install. And they get a phone app, which is also included.”

In some cases, larger accounts may be handled entirely by DPL employees, according to DeKarske.

Robust Equipment Tracking Hardware

DPL has its own line of tracking hardware, which according to DeKarske, is a combination of white labeled products from others and products manufactured to their brand manufactured to their specifications.

“We’re focusing on construction equipment which needs a very ruggedized unit,” DeKarske said. “It can be waterproof; it can be hidden, and it can stand up to what rental or construction equipment goes through.”

Various DPL products enable capabilities including remote start, disabling of the starter, tilt alarms and tip over alerts.

“Something that sets us apart on our battery products is something called Adaptive Tracking,” DeKarske said. “As soon as that unit starts moving, it wakes up the accelerometer, and you'll get updates every 15 minutes when it is moving.”

DPL devices can work access various connectivity sources for applications in areas with poor cell connectivity.

“Our battery-powered units use satellites to go ahead and get all the data, the location, the points, and it's uploaded to the website, portal and phone app via cell phone towers,” DeKarske said. “If for some strange reason they're not in any cell reception, the units themselves hold the records, so that when it gets back into cell reception, you'll be able to see the history of that unit.”

OEM Integrations

DPL is also according to DeKarske opening up the spectrum of devices it can consume data from by establishing integrations with OEM telematics systems.

“We are starting to integrate the OEM telematics into our software package,” DeKarske said. “JD Link is already integrated and we’re working on other OEM telematics.”

Integrations are also pending with rental equipment software management providers, according to DeKarske. Integrations are flexible and can be configured to hand off a broad spectrum of different data.

“We have trackers that simply just give GPS location for theft recovery all the way up to fault codes that connect to the J 1939,” DeKarske said. “And everything in between. So just depends on what our customers want, what information they want, and how they what they want to track and what data they want from that tracking.”

Data within the DPL application can drive maintenance and other activities, with additional capabilities coming soon to address a broad spectrum of equipment classes beyond yellow iron.

“We’re working on a couple of things, which are going to be big for electric scissors and booms of where we can tell when it's been plugged in and seeing a charge,” DeKarske said. “Like I said, we have products that just give location and movement history, all the way up to fault codes so it just depends what the customer is needing and what they want for each product.”

One core discipline in the DPL portal is maintenance scheduling, which is primarily calendar-based or triggered by duty cycle or metered usage.

“So, for instance, every year, you have to do an annual inspection on your aerial equipment,” DeKarske said. “You can set that up to run off the mileage of the vehicle, or it can also be set up by run hours. And you can create any type of maintenance schedule within the website portal that you would like.”

DPL Pricing and Market

DPL is currently focusing on rental companies and equipment dealers but has designs on expansion into selling directly to contractors and other end users. DeKarske suggested one thing the company will do before it targets end users is build an appropriate team, and even then, we would probably sell through a dealer or distributor network.

Pricing is driven by the unit cost, which the customer purchases with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and a monthly service plan. DeKarske reiterated several times the fact that there is no contract for DPL customers to get locked into.

“Just buy a handful of units and try it out,” DeKarske said. “If it’s not for you, you have a 30-day money back guarantee.”

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