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From remote maintenance to telematics:

diagnostic and service solutions in the off-highway sector are focussed fully on digitalisation

The failure of an off-highway machine inevitably leads to an economic loss. From November 10th to 16th, 2019 in Halls 15, 16, 17 and 18 at the trade fair grounds in Hanover, SYSTEMS & COMPONENTS exhibitors will be showing how this scenario can be avoided with diagnostic and service solutions – and how fact-based decisions can be made using real-time sensor data and location-specific documentation.


Off-highway machines such as agricultural machines, excavators, soil compactors or wheel loaders are subject to high stress. While regular service intervals are part of the operators' routine, they do not offer any protection against unexpected failures. The costs of repairs are usually extensive, largely owing to the fact that the machines concerned are stationed in remote locations. In many cases, further breakdown costs are also incurred, e.g. for transport vehicles. To ensure high availability, it is necessary to detect looming failures early on. At SYSTEMS & COMPONENTS, visitors can obtain information about the future possibilities that go hand-in-hand with machine control, consumption and productivity monitoring, diagnosis and remote maintenance of construction and agricultural machinery.


Diagnosis-based service reduces downtime

In the future, it will become increasingly vital to know where the mobile working machine is currently located, how much diesel it is consuming and when the next service is due. The focus of digitalisation strategies for the off-highway markets is increasingly shifting towards remote diagnosis – and thus the registration, evaluation and analysis of operating data which enable conclusions regarding performance and cost effectiveness to be drawn. The latest generation of condition monitoring systems, which use smart sensors to permanently monitor the status of working machines, will be on show at the trade fair grounds in Hanover. Thanks to their intelligent analysis tools, the machines draw attention to malfunctions in good time before they result in high costs. At the same time, the service lives of engines and hydraulic pumps are extended thanks to operation at their respectively ideal operating point, while energy consumption is also reduced.

Besides the usual parameters such as temperatures or current flows, fault detection by means of vibration measurement is crucial. Rotating machine parts, in particular, cause specific vibration patterns in the event of looming failures. By means of frequency analysis, these vibrations can be used to determine the wear status of hydraulic units, engines and gearboxes. As soon as the cause of the fault code or the alarm has been identified, the problem can be rectified as quickly as possible.


Remote system updates

Apps support mobile diagnosis using a smartphone or tablet. All relevant engine data and the fault memory can be read out via a Bluetooth connection and sent to the local service partner  – online and in real time. On this basis, the service partner decides whether remote service can be used to restore the operability of individual vehicle components online without the necessity of working on site. If a repair is unavoidable, the responsible technician immediately arrives with the required replacement parts and tools. Fleet operators can use the apps to comfortably manage their engines and to determine maintenance windows. All-inclusive packages for machine diagnosis go one step further and additionally include optimisation of the mobile working machines based on the determined data as well as training options for employees.

In addition to service-relevant data, information concerning the state of the machine, which was previously only ascertainable in the workshop, is also increasingly being transferred in the agricultural sector. In this process, remote flash reprogramming comfortably ensures that agricultural machinery and ISOBUS implements are always operated with the latest software. As soon as the farmer receives the push message for new firmware on his smartphone, he confirms that the machine or the engine is ready for the flash reprogramming process and starts the update directly.


Telematic modules as data collectors

Remote monitoring and remote diagnosis alone do not ensure more efficient operation. What is important is the idle time in relation to a machine's activity. Registering the times during which machines are not running at full capacity or could be used elsewhere is important – not only in the construction industry. IT-supported fleet and order management has long since become an established part of the daily routine of farmers and contractors who cultivate their land with multiple machines and in various locations. A clearly arranged map provides them with an overview of their fields at all times, allows them to display the current position of each machine and enables them to monitor work progress.

High-performance telematics modules such as those exhibited at SYSTEMS & COMPONENTS combine satellite navigation with mobile communications. Further wireless interfaces such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth are optionally available. These modules undertake all of the functions required for the real-time-acquisition, evaluation and transfer of the specific machine data. They operate autonomously and are able to cooperate with various control units. Regardless of whether a combine harvester, a forage harvester or a silage trailer is involved – older harvesting machines can also be connected to the fleet management system using flexibly configurable telematics modules.


A look at the bigger digital picture

Irrespective of whether a maintenance programme is being introduced or the company's overall maintenance strategy is being further developed – the remote support solutions on show at SYSTEMS & COMPONENTS offer a number of advantages. This is not without consequences for mobile working machine maintenance, which will change during the course of digitalisation.

According to the vision of machine manufacturers and their OEM partners, technicians could wear data glasses in the future to support them in their work in the form of augmented reality applications. The display can then be used, for instance, to show checklists that are worked through step-by-step or work instructions such as the tightening torque required for bolted connections.

While digitalisation, data integration and Big Data are also opening up new opportunities and options for the off-highway sector, they are nevertheless raising new questions concerning data sovereignty and data security, for example. Answers to these questions can be sought in the Future Lounge in Hall 17, the technical programme at SYSTEMS & COMPONENTS. Over a period of four days, the Future Lounge will be offering interactive discussions, keynotes and a look at the bigger picture.