Top 5 Smart Technologies Adopted in Off-Road Equipment Industry

Smart technology is indeed a fluid category when it comes to the off-road equipment sector, and depending on a manufacturer’s definition of “smart,” it can encompass a wide range of products. Smart products, in general, have a variety of sensing and decision-making capabilities that allow the machine in adapting and responding autonomously. The smart technology will continue in being adopted at a rapid rate in every off-road equipment sector.

Top 5 Smart Technology Trends Adopted in Off-Road Equipment Industry 

Below are top 5 smart technology trends that are adopted in the off-road equipment industry,

Global Positioning– Global positioning is a critical tool for a variety of off-road equipment applications because it allows for:

  1. Autonomous or semi-autonomous machinery operation
  2. Fleet communication in places not having cellular service (such as underground mining operations
  3. Improved accuracy (such as precision agriculture)
  4. Increased safety by preventing equipment collisions
  5. Remote fleet tracking capabilities, which are especially important in harsh environments where worker safety is a concern

GNSS technologies are turning more sophisticated & accurate, with new features such as integrated wireless capabilities that allow machinery data to be sent to smartphones and other mobile devices. Komatsu, for instance, in 2020 launched iMC 2.0, a novel version of its iMC system that is GNSS-based. The new iteration improves on its predecessor’s accuracy and operability, boosting productivity & efficiency even more.

Autonomous Equipment– Off-road equipment makers are looking to incorporate related technologies in products like excavators, tractors, and haulers as driverless consumer vehicles become a growing focus of the auto industry – most importantly to improve project efficiency and worker safety. Liebherr-International, Caterpillar, Komatsu, Deere, Kubota, and Sandvik are among the leading off-road equipment manufacturers working on autonomous machinery. For these purposes, many of these OEMs are forming partnerships with or purchasing stakes in technology companies.

Most autonomous products have recently hit the market or are expected to do so soon. Consider the following scenario:

Deere announced a new, completely automated version of their 8R tractor in January 2022 exclusively for agricultural applications, which will be available for purchase later that year. The tractor is the first-ever driverless, “farmer-free” tractor on the market, according to the company.

Predictive Maintenance– The use of monitoring software that can collect and analyze machine data to provide predictive maintenance alerts is a key strategy to reduce equipment downtime & maintenance costs. Monitoring different off-road machines’ condition has a number of advantages, including:

  • Component replacement intervals and extending machine lifespan
  • Augmenting planned maintenance schedules
  • Reducing safety risks
  • Increasing machine efficiency
  • Increasing the volume of time machines in operation
  • Decreasing machine downtime

A variety of software developers (including Microsoft & Siemens) offer CMMSs which aid in the remote monitoring, analysis, and collection of machine data. The larger OEMs include remote monitoring as part of their maintenance services, which is the first step towards complete predictive maintenance optimization.

Advanced Software and Data Collection Technology- The operability of smart off-road equipment is based on advanced software & data collection technologies, which are especially important in the performance of autonomous machinery. Advanced data collection and analytics capabilities of software, when combined with cameras, sensors, and other smart equipment traits, improve the information available to operators for greater precision, safety, and efficiency.

Many of the most recent off-road equipment models emphasize the significance of improving efficiency via advanced technology.

Terex announced in May 2021 that its rough terrain cranes can be equipped with the T-Link telematics platform, which will offer consumers with real-time information related to their cranes’ performance.

Drones– Drones, also called unmanned aerial vehicles, are increasingly being used by commercial farmers & managers of construction as well as mining operations to:

  • trees, inventory plants, & other resources as well as monitor crop health
  • trace livestock or machines
  • monitor farm perimeters or job sites and prevent illegal activities (e.g., poaching, trespassing, or unauthorized mining or logging)

Drone performance will carry on improving as drone-sensing technologies improve in precision. This, in turn, may result in rapid adoption, especially in agricultural applications. Consider this scenario:

Agricultural drones from XAG are used for digital field mapping, spreading fertilizer, sowing seeds, and spraying pesticides in 42 countries and regions. The company announced in January 2022 that its agricultural drones would be used in a reforestation project in Brazil as well as a rice cultivation task in Russia.

Bottom Line 

Owing to such smart technology trends, off-road equipment is in great demand and has wide application in different end use industries like mining, agriculture, construction, forestry, and others.