Five points for successful data collection in construction and agricultural machines
Five points for successful data collection in construction and agricultural machines
Mobile Solutions Off-Highway

Five points for successful data collection in construction and agricultural machines

Telematics solutions for construction and agricultural machines are only as good as their weakest link. Off-highway players should bear in mind these five points when collecting data.

Anyone who would like to prepare vehicle data for fleet managers, contractors or support staff needs to collect the data first. How efficient and future-proof the entire telematics solution will be is decided here at the start of the information chain. The Telematics Control Unit is therefore the first point on our checklist.


1. How do I lay future-proof foundations?

Essentially, the puropse of a Telematics Control Unit (TCU) is to collect data in the vehicle and transfer them to the cloud. The telematics hardware must be robust to ensure that it can cope with the demanding conditions encountered in agricultural machines, construction machines and other off-highway vehicles. At the same time, the TCU’s technology must be ready for all future IoT applications and it must be possible to manage the TCU over the air. When it comes to connectivity, it should not be restricted to collecting data via the CAN­BUS – it should also support Ethernet, WLAN and I/O.

To ensure that the TCU immediately meets all technological requirements regarding future IoT and remote services, it requires processor-based hardware along with a streamlined, non-proprietary operating system such as Linux. The device software runs in separate layers on this operating system. The advantage of this architecture is clear to see: Firstly, the individual software modules can be supplemented, exchanged and updated. Secondly, the hardware can easily be replaced. This may be necessary whenever an existing mobile communications standard is discontinued.

Selecting the right TCU: Read on to find out what the agricultural machine manufacturer HOLMER decided

Data streams

2. How do I collect and transfer data correctly?

Fleet managers and workshop personnel require different information. Customer services and the development department must be able to look deep inside machines and their systems. In order to cater for all these requirements with the same telematics solution, the various vehicle data should be gathered with a variable sampling rate – the oil temperature and tank probes every minute, hydraulic pressures up to 1,000 times a second. If the TCU has insufficient computing capacity, none of this will be possible. Without adequate computing power, data streams with speeds of 1 Mbit/s or more cannot be provided via the CAN BUS which is usually limited to 500 kbit/s. Additionally, the data must be transferred to the cloud – even if reception is poor or the vehicle has spent long periods traveling in an area where there is no signal at all. As a result, internal computing and memory capacity, apps and algorithms are needed.

Picture: Bosch Rexroth
With the help of the Rexroth Connectivity Unit (RCU), specific data streams can be selected and configured as necessary, allowing them to be pre-filtered, pre-processed and transferred with optimum bandwidths using edge computing.

3. How do I protect my know-how?

Transferable device software has another advantage: The manufacturers can not only manage and update it themselves – it can also be expanded as required with specific software modules, for example manufacturer-specific algorithms for edge analytics. The device software for the Rexroth Connectivity Unit offers OEMs a protected area for this. Thanks to full support for standard interfaces, most of the common programming languages are supported. This ensures ample room for maneuver, protects know-how and guarantees portability in the event of a change in hardware.

IoT Suite

4. How can I reduce the administrative outlay?

Managing a telematics infrastructure can quickly prove impossible, especially if the device firmware and device software in the vehicle cannot be managed efficiently and updated over the air (FOTA / SOTA). As a result, device management plays another key role within a telematics solution. In order to prevent the administrative effort growing proportionally with every additional vehicle, device generation and new software version, the device management system must optimize each individual phase of the life cycle – from the preparatory phase through to decommissioning. An uneconomical solution without device monitoring, campaign management functions and tools for software and firmware updates is unaffordable in the long term. Choosing the right system at the beginning saves trouble, work and costs later on.

Device and data management: How are they connected? Download the white paper free of charge!

5. How can I enter the market more quickly?

Once device connectivity and management are clarified, the next step is data management, an area which allows considerably more room for maneuver. Vehicle data now appear on the interface in a manner geared to the needs of target groups. They are visualized before being passed on to user-specific portals. Fleet managers and workshops need a customer portal, while customer services need a service portal, each with suitable dashboards. When it comes to setting these up, companies once again need to decide whether to program them themselves, have them programmed by somebody else or adapt ready-to-use modules. In order to ensure maximum flexibility, an open telematics solution should cater for all these scenarios. This is possible within the BODAS Connect ecosystem as device and data management are logically separate from each other.

Using a complete package including data management is particularly beneficial in terms of time to market. After all, the requirements regarding data management are highly complex given the many peculiarities of the off-highway sector. This quickly becomes clear when it comes to data storage, storage costs, analytics and cloud­to­cloud communication. In order to enable companies to start providing their own IoT services quickly, Bosch Rexroth offers not only the basic BODAS Connect Device Connectivity package but also the BODAS Connect All-in-one-Connectivity end-to-end telematics solution. In addition to connectivity, edge analytics and device management modules, it includes a data management module as well. Its configurable modules and data interfaces allow companies to set up individual front ends with their own look and feel quickly. OEMs thus not only enjoy a high level of standardization – they also have considerable freedom when it comes to developing their services and can enter the market more quickly.

IoT Suite

Conclusion: Get developing the easy way

Anyone who would like to start using or switch to telematics systems quickly and sustainably needs a flexible, modular and standard-based solution which takes into account all critical points along the information chain. By selecting the right system, technological dead-ends and economic pitfalls along the strategic route can easily be avoided and companies can strengthen their own market position with attractive IoT services.

Would you like to start using or switch to telematics systems? Test our BODAS Connect Starter Kits

Dr. Christian Grabe

Dr. Christian Grabe

is the Business Owner Digital Business Mobile Hydraulics at Bosch Rexroth in Stuttgart. Christian has more than 15 years’ experience when it comes to developing systems for off-highway machines and embedded software. In his position, he comes up with new business concepts and digital products in the field of connected off-highway machines.