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Asset managers crave location data

Michael S. Goldberg | Sept. 30, 2014
Visually seeing and tracking your company's assets can help save money, time and trouble.

As of this summer, PortMaps was serving up about 1,000 maps a day to some 300 users: Project managers, asset managers, field inspectors, nautical operators, environmental analysts, cartographers and shipping route analysts. They log on, search for what they need and find maps with data about the area they are focused on.

Rademaker says the system's model and underlying architecture are designed to last at least 10 years. "A quay wall will last for 25 years," he says, using the Dutch term for wharf. "Ships are getting bigger and bigger, and we have to try to predict what is going to happen." That means information about assets has to serve as a valuable asset in itself, preparing the port for the future.

Harvest time at the vineyard
As resources manager at Scheid Vineyards, Greg Gonzalez is focused on the next harvest. He needs to put equipment in place when the grapes are ready and the weather is right. It's a chess game complicated by the location of the company's assets: 146 harvesters, sprayers and trucks to tend to 4,200 acres at 10 vineyards spread over a 70-mile stretch around Monterey and Salinas, Calif.

Vineyard crews play a central role in knowing what's going on in the field, and since 2010, the company has been analyzing machine data and tracking activity using the Geoforce application. GPS transmitters using CDMA cellular service tell workers where the vineyard's harvesting equipment is. Accelerometers record how they move. Other sensors record weather conditions and sugar readings in select vines.

Taken together, the results allow managers to evaluate operations: Where and when to move heavy harvesting machines. What harvester movements and idle times say about the efficiency of the machines and their operators. When usage patterns show it's time to get a mechanic to check on equipment.

Because Geoforce offers mostly text readouts, Gonzalez says the company decided to test out real-time map views. The vineyard's using a GeoEvent application for Esri's ArcGIS that renders Geoforce HTML-based data into a dashboard so managers can more easily evaluate operations.

"In agriculture you are doing a lot of reacting to Mother Nature," Gonzalez says. There's a big difference between the growing conditions at Hames Valley, where temperatures can hit 130 degrees, and those in the Soledad region, "where maybe it tops out at 88. So managing your resources based on your areas and getting things done efficiently and timely is a big key to profits when it comes to harvest."

Black-box sensors monitor driver performance and safety
Al Powell, the department of transportation fleet manager at Express Energy Services in Houston, can't see all 1,200 vehicles he's supervising. But that doesn't mean he isn't watching.


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