Content by Coates.

Coates, Australia’s biggest equipment solutions provider, is installing a newly developed retrofit telemetry device on their fleet.

The technology gives Coates customers greater insight into the performance and utilisation of their hire equipment, resulting in lower operating costs and increased project efficiencies. The investment builds on the company’s ongoing commitment to provide IoT-enabled technologies and platforms for its customers.

In 2019, Coates began searching for a telemetry device that could be retrofitted across its existing mobile fleet. The device needed to:

  • Be universally applied across a diverse fleet
  • Have a battery life of up to three years
  • Require no tricky wiring to capture machine utilisation
  • Be easily installed by Coates branch staff in 15 minutes or less

Unable to find an existing device that meet all requirements, Coates partnered with Tasmanian engineering house Definium Technologies to design and manufacture a bespoke solution.

Following a successful prototype testing phase, Coates financed the engineering and production of 5,000 devices in FY21. Over the next 12 months, a total of 12,500 units will be manufactured and installed across Coates’ eligible fleet to complete the telemetry retrofit project.

According to Joshua Tompkins, Product Owner of Industrial IoT at Coates, the device’s rapid deployment capability, intelligent calibration and scalability make it stand out from other products on the market.

“Installing the bespoke telemetry device across our entire fleet is expected to save the equivalent of 12 years of labour, compared to using some of the popular off-the-shelf products,” says Joshua.

With branch teams currently averaging less than 10 minutes to install the device, Joshua hopes this could drop to as little as five minutes. Staff are aided by a scannable data matrix code on the outside of each device which eliminates the need to enter serial numbers manually for each device.

“Using our in-house maintenance app MyFleet, the data matrix allows each device to be quickly located and associated with the piece of equipment it’s installed on, shaving even more time off installation,” says Joshua.

To preserve battery power, each Coates telemetry device intermittently checks for vibration and only records data when the equipment is in use. With equipment ranging from small welders and generators through to large earthmoving equipment, designing a device that could be calibrated for such a diverse fleet was a significant challenge for Definium Technologies.

“As you would expect, the vibration created by some of the smaller equipment will vary significantly from a large roller that vibrates by design. It was also going to be impossible to mandate precisely where each device would be installed on each piece of equipment,” explains Joshua.

The solution? To calibrate each device, the installer simply uses an included magnet to put the device in calibration mode while the equipment idles. The telemetry device is then programmed to begin sampling vibrations, creating a base threshold for future operations. 

Joshua says it was also important to future-proof the technology to meet the changing needs of customers. While the device will initially be retrofitted to Coates’ diesel fleet, the company’s large range of electric equipment presents opportunities to capture additional telemetry data over time.

“Whether customers want to measure fuel tank levels, battery health or monitor engine diagnostics, we need to be able to adapt and scale the capability of these devices as demand grows and customer needs change,” says Joshua.

In response, Definium’s engineers included a pre-wired expansion port that allows Coates to add sensors for an individual machine without having to replace the device. Alongside local manufacturing and rapid installation, this feature gives Coates customers access to a more sustainable and cost-effective telemetry solution, now and into the future.

To find out how telemetry-enabled equipment could support your next project, call Coates today on 13 15 52 or visit