Why Tracking External PTO Might Be a Game Changer for Your Fleet


Utilization data is particularly important for long-range planning and financial decisions. Should a company buy or rent a particular piece of equipment? Will there be enough assets to expand the business or schedule multiple concurrent jobs? When will expensive assets need to be replaced? How can disruptive emergency maintenance be avoided with more effective preventative maintenance?

One specialized type of utilization data involves external PTO (Power Take-Off). Monitoring the use of external or auxiliary attachments on vehicles and equipment has many benefits and financial implications. So, what is external PTO and what are the benefits of tracking it? Let’s find out.

What is external PTO?

External PTO stands for external Power Take-Off. It refers to a mechanism or device that allows the transfer of power from a vehicle or machinery to an external attachment or equipment. The power is typically derived from the main engine or power source of the asset. It enables the use of the vehicle's or equipment's engine power to drive added equipment or perform specific tasks.

In the context of vehicles, such as trucks or heavy machinery, an external PTO is often used to provide power to external accessories or implements. These accessories can include hydraulic pumps, generators, winches, compressors, and other types of equipment that require mechanical or electrical power to operate.

External PTO systems usually consist of a power take-off unit, which is connected to the main engine or power source, and a driveshaft or power transmission mechanism that transfers the power to the external attachment. The PTO unit is typically engaged or disengaged using a control mechanism, such as a lever or switch, allowing the operator to activate or deactivate the power transfer as needed.

External devices using PTO can be various types of equipment or attachments, including:

  • Auxiliary Equipment
  • Hydraulic pumps, generators, air compressors, or winches. These devices can use the engine power to perform specific functions, such as operating hydraulic systems, supplying electrical power, supplying compressed air, or pulling heavy loads.
  • Construction Equipment
  • Cement mixers, concrete pumps, or hydraulic cranes. By connecting these attachments to the PTO, the equipment's engine power can be harnessed to perform specialized construction tasks efficiently.
  • Municipal Applications
  • Street sweepers, snow blowers, or vacuum trucks. These applications can use the power from the vehicle's engine to operate the equipment and carry out specific tasks like cleaning streets, removing snow, or suctioning debris.
  • Commercial Vehicle Accessories
  • Tow arms, refrigeration units, liftgates, or compressors. These accessories rely on the vehicle's engine power to function effectively and provide essential services for specific industries or transportation needs.

What are the benefits of tracking external PTO?

Tracking external Power Take-Off (PTO) usage on vehicles and equipment can provide several benefits, including:

  1. Operational Efficiency
  2. Monitoring external PTO usage helps optimize operational efficiency by supplying insights into how and when PTOs are used. This information allows fleet managers and operators to find opportunities for improved scheduling, task allocation, and resource management. By tracking PTO usage, fleet and equipment managers can ensure that vehicles and equipment are being used effectively and that PTO-driven tasks are completed efficiently.
  3. Maintenance and Service Planning
  4. PTOs are mechanical components that undergo wear and tear during operation. By tracking PTO usage, shop managers can gather data on the runtime and frequency of PTO engagement. This information allows them to implement preventative maintenance and service planning, ensuring timely inspections, lubrication, and repairs to prevent unexpected failures and costly downtime.
  5. Fuel Consumption and Cost Management
  6. PTO usage is often associated with increased fuel consumption. Tracking and analyzing PTO operations makes it easier to quantify the fuel consumption attributed to PTO engagement and find opportunities for fuel-saving measures. This knowledge can lead to more efficient route planning, task sequencing, and equipment selection—ultimately reducing fuel costs and improving the overall fuel economy of a fleet.
  7. Diagnostic and Troubleshooting
  8. Monitoring PTO usage can aid in diagnostics and troubleshooting. If irregularities or issues pop up during PTO operation, tracking the usage data can help pinpoint potential causes. This information can guide maintenance personnel in identifying and resolving problems quickly, minimizing equipment downtime, and optimizing productivity.
  9. Compliance and Safety
  10. Certain industries and regulatory standards may require tracking and reporting PTO usage for compliance purposes. Accurately monitoring and documenting PTO engagement ensures compliance with regulations and safety guidelines. Additionally, tracking PTO usage helps identify potential misuse or unauthorized use of PTOs, promoting safety practices and preventing accidents or damage to equipment.
  11. Cost Allocation and Billing
  12. In scenarios where PTO-driven tasks are performed for external clients or departments within an organization, tracking PTO usage makes it easier to accurately distribute costs and billing. By recording the duration and extent of PTO engagement, billing departments can generate precise usage reports and invoices, enhancing transparency and ensuring fair billing practices.

Overall, tracking external PTO usage supplies valuable data that enables informed decision-making, improves efficiency, reduces maintenance costs, enhances safety, and streamlines operations for vehicles and equipment that use PTO-driven functions.