Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Volvo Uptime Center shows connected vehicles rapidly changing business landscape


Wednesday, December 10, 2014
by DOROTHY COX

The front lines of the Uptime Center are the Uptime call center employees, who are on staff 24/7 365 days a year, even holidays such as Christmas, since the freight is always being delivered. (Photo: DOROTHY COX)
The front lines of the Uptime Center are the Uptime call center employees, who are on staff 24/7 365 days a year, even holidays such as Christmas, since the freight is always being delivered. (Photo: DOROTHY COX)

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The time is quickly approaching to be able to predict the lifetime of truck components and fix them before they break.

But the future of trucking telematics is much bigger than that, with components being able to talk to each other and in the next five years or sooner enabling a truck to be able to download a software fix without disturbing the driver getting his rest at a truck stop, said Volvo and Mack Trucks officials here Dec. 8 at the grand opening of the Volvo Group Uptime Center.

“We should have the mindset of the airlines: no unplanned stops,” said Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North American Sales and Marketing.

And yet, mitigating and preventing side-of-the-road breakdowns is just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s estimated that there will be 24 billion-plus “things” connected to the Internet by 2020 said Rich Ferguson, senior vice president, aftermarket and soft products for Volvo Trucks.

And the stream of data from connected trucks are being used now to help manage driver productivity and hours compliance, advise the customer or carrier on best practices and protect the load through the integration of all ‘things’ on the vehicle in real-time. In the future, the information can be used to determine that “the alternator is going to go out” in X number of days or months and fix it before the truck is sidelined.

“Five years from now or sooner,” said Volvo Group officials, there will be such advancements as “wireless workshops, where vehicles will “self-evaluate” problems and be repaired remotely via wireless updates; older vehicles diagnosed with updates sent remotely; such engine parameters as road speed changed remotely; adjustments made for legislative changes such as fuel taxes; average diagnostic and repair time greatly reduced; driver and fleet efficiency enhanced and software making it unnecessary to have to stop at a dealership for problem fixes.

Volvo and Mack are using telematics partner provider Telogis and in 2015 will release the names of other telematics partners, giving customers a choice, Ferguson said. It’s becoming essentially a BYOD world, or “bring your own device,” he said.

Granted, using data gathered through “connected” truck components can help fleet and owner-operator customers make more informed decisions, but it will also help OEMs make vehicles more reliable in the future, Ferguson said.

The front lines of the Uptime Center are the Uptime call center employees, who are on staff 24/7 365 days a year, even holidays such as Christmas, since the freight is always being delivered.

When there’s a fault code noting something needs to be fixed, most of the time, unless the driver is also the truck owner, the trucker operator only sees a flashing light on the dash. The truck, through its telematics sends an alert to the Uptime Center.

“We’ll know before the driver and the customer,” said Ty Lindsay, business development manager, fleets and leasing, Volvo Group Uptime Center. The Center “kicks into gear” and contacts the carrier, fleet or whoever owns the truck to let them know of the problem. Many times, the fault code isn’t serious, allowing the truck driver to complete his or her delivery or pick-up. The nearest dealer or fleet hub facility is located and it’s determined if they have a free bay and the available part. If the part is not at hand it’s ordered so it can be ready when the truck arrives for service.

It’s changing the business landscape for carriers, owner-operators and fleets, from “reactive unplanned stops to proactive planned stops,” Ferguson said.

“There’s no other worse event” for a driver than being broken down on the side of the road, with state police coming up behind the driver telling him to move and calling an expensive tow truck, said Dennis Slagle, Executive Vice President Group Trucks Sales & Marketing Americas, AB Volvo.

The “measurable costs” associated with a break-down are $2,000, he said, but the intangible costs “are enormous.”

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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