Recognizing that many equipment operators, maintenance technicians and fleet managers now carry mobile devices with them, Caterpillar has introduced a Bluetooth app that allows users to pair their smart phone or tablet with a machine to access its data feed, including fault codes.
“The more electronics you’ve got on the machine, the more data is available,” said Ben Hanks, parts growth consultant at Caterpillar in Leicester, U.K., who demonstrated the new productivity app Feb. 2 in Las Vegas on the eve of this year’s World of Concrete show.
Once a device is paired with the machine, the app records such data as pre-start inspections, machine performance, fuel economy, and service intervals. Users can use an iPhone or iPad to read the data, chart it and send an e-mail containing a .CSV file generated through the app. Just as they might with their car or truck, operators can also use the Bluetooth system for hands-free phone calls.
Although equipment manufacturers have been reticent to allow users to access deep machine data, including fault codes traditionally reserved for dealerships, Cat says it is responding to customers looking to analyze their performance.
Cat has been conducting field trials with machine owners over the past two months in the U.S., Canada and Europe, and the testers “are actually using it,” said Hanks of the app.
The app makes its debut on Cat’s new 420F2 backhoe loader, designed to meet federal Tier-4 final diesel emission requirements and on display here in Las Vegas.
The company hopes to expand the app to a wider range of machines, some of which are already Bluetooth compatible. Cat also plans to offer an Android version of the app, which currently is compatible with Apple products, later in the year. Pricing has not yet been announced.