Business Smarts: Managing Equipment Assets - National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Business Smarts: Managing Equipment Assets

Photo: John Deere

If you have GPS fleet tracking on your trucks, you might think there’s no need to track the individual pieces of equipment since they’re with your trucks and trailers going out to jobsites.

However, tracking equipment can provide far more information than just its last known location.

“If your tools could talk, what would they tell you?” says Scott Sittler, marketing manager for Husqvarna. “When they leave the shop, do you know how long they were used, if used at all? Knowing what tools were run on each job helps a business owner know if they have enough equipment, or too much, on a maintenance route.”

An example of an asset tracking system for handheld equipment is Husqvarna’s Fleet Services, which is a cloud-based fleet management software that debuted in 2019. This system allows professional landscapers to monitor their equipment by mounting a small wireless sensor on an outdoor power product.

“Some tools come equipped with Fleet Services built-in, like our newer professional battery tools,” Sittler says. “Other tools, even other brands of equipment, can be outfitted with sensors.”

These sensors collect machine data such as run time, the number of starts and idle time.

“Since the system tracks the exact run time of each machine there’s no guesswork with regard to maintenance schedules,” Sittler says.

Photo: Husqvarna

Users can also access their equipment’s service history, maintenance notifications, carbon footprint and product specifications through Fleet Services.

“With Fleet Services you know exactly how many hours the tool has been used – how many starts, how long it was run each time, what percent of the throttle was engaged, and more,” Sittler says. “That information helps you better understand if the right tools are being used on the job.”

Machine telematics options for your compact equipment are also available with systems, like John Deere’s JDLink. James Leibold, product marketing manager for Connected Solutions at John Deere, says tracking your assets allow you to see your completion rates, utilization on the job and decide if a machine should be moved to a different job.

Systems like JDLink also help prevent theft as it is an industry-wide issue and equipment is an expensive investment. Users of JDLink can set geofencing and curfews for their equipment so they receive notifications for if a machine is started during an unauthorized time.  

Leibold says JDLink tracks thousands of data points, such as fuel usage and idle time.

“I think contractors have really barely scratched the surface for using this,” Leibold says.

JDLink also features Machine Analyzer, which allows owners to see which machines are being underutilized, whether the machine is not in eco-mode or if it’s a sign an operator is in need of some additional coaching/training. Landscape contractors can also keep track of maintenance schedules or create their own custom maintenance plans for their machines in JDLink.

Recently, John Deere has moved from offering JDLink as a subscription service to being provided at no additional charge. Now any John Deere machine built with JDLink can automatically be enrolled in the connectivity at no extra cost.

“John Deere has a huge push within the last couple of years for technology,” Leibold says. “John Deere’s goal for the next five years is to lead this industry in technology. The way to differentiate and show value to customers is through technology. John Deere sees that as the future. Part of that is ensuring our customers have access to their data and very good data within that.”

Other brand-agnostic asset tracking options include Asset Panda and Tenna. While Asset Panda is best for keeping track of maintenance and when equipment has been checked in or out, Tenna provides performance insights for equipment.

By utilizing the available technology offered by brands like Husqvarna and John Deere or using third-party platforms, you can become more productive, make the most out of your equipment and help mitigate issues like theft.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the content manager for NALP.

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