Skyjack has announced the launch of a new approach to machine troubleshooting, that might also turn into a money spinner.
Although at odds with Skyjack’s ‘keep it simple and avoid complex electronics’ policy, the initiative follows increasing pressure from buyers for onboard interactive diagnostics. The company has therefore decided to adopt tried and tested technology by equipping its machines with a mobile antenna and sim card wired to a built-in mobile phone-type microphone and speaker.
The system allows an operator or technician working on a Skyjack machine to simply press a new ‘Help’ button on the control panel which will connect him directly to a service operator at the company’s headquarters in Canada who will then talk him through the issue and attempt to solve it. A multi-lingual team is being assembled and will initially be able to handle calls in English, Spanish, French, German, Swedish and Finnish. However at launch the service will only be ready for North America, Mexico, Benelux, France, the UK, UAE and all of the Nordic countries. The company is currently waiting on relevant approvals or sim card deals for other markets.
Skyjack has been equipping machines with mobile antennae, sim card readers microphone/speakers - hidden within the control box - to handle both 3G and 4G signals since January 2012, but to date only the test units have been activated - those participating in the test programme were obliged to sign fairly tough confidentiality agreements. All machines shipped so far do not have the bright red ‘Help me’ button installed, however the emergency stop buttons on these units have been equipped with a spring loaded twist function which can serve as the help activator button. Retrofit buttons will though be available to bring those units up to specification for a nominal charge.
Skyjack is hoping to defray the additional costs involved with running the new initiative by using each machine’s mobile connection to create local WiFi hubs that people nearby can use for a modest fee or annual subscription. It has dubbed the new service SKYfi. However, in order to achieve this Skyjack requires the owner of the machine to opt into the programme and install a SKYfi hub to amplify the WiFi signal over a wider area. The current design has the outgoing hub antenna mounted on the guardrails, but the company is looking for an alternative before it goes into full production.
As an incentive for owners to ‘opt-in’ Skyjack will share the WiFi revenues that each machine generates with them. Hubs will be provided on a free-of-charge basis for local installation, Skyjack will then pay the machine owner 40 percent of all revenues each unit generates. If an owner does not opt in they will still benefit from the help service, but this may be subject to a subscription fee once the concept is fully established. The company is also considering some bolt on fee generating options, such as a Concierge service - but this has not yet been developed.
Skyjack president Brad Boehler said: “The SKYfi network is a way for us to give customers something back because the network is really only possible as a result of the large numbers of platforms in the field. Users can simply log onto the SKYfi network from their mobile devices and then purchase ‘airtime’ in the same way that hotel chains operate.”
In order to set up an account users can simply go to: www.skyjack.com/skyfi the actual service is expected to go live in Canada from the start of this month - April 1.