The FT has an interesting article today on the demand for data from construction and mining equipment manufacturer, Komatsu. The company has been releasing data on equipment sales but also on the usage of its equipment by customers. This usage data comes from its KOMTRAX remote monitoring system which tracks how its equipment is being used. According to the FT:
Komatsu’s data, which go back more than two decades, are drawn from nearly 430,000 machines round the world. The information serves as a canary in the economic coalmine, showing where machines are idling, rather than digging resources out of the earth or laying the foundations for new buildings.
That makes it useful for governments, multilateral institutions such the World Bank, and private sector businesses looking to capitalise on pockets of demand — from housebuilders to bank lenders. The company’s Komtrax tracking system showed, for example, that its machines in China were being pressed into more service from earlier this year — while man hours across much of the rest of the globe are still down year-on-year.
As Internet of Things (IoT) systems and technologies are deployed in greater numbers throughout a range of industrial equipment and processes, we can hope to see more of this type of data being made available. The more data points that analysts and forecasters have access to, the more accurate their models are likely to be. A big issue will be how accessible this data will be – some of it will be kept behind corporate firewalls but with the rise of data exchanges it is likely that a market will be created for its sharing.