Eaton Corp. announced two additions to its line of MD Mobile Diagnostic Tools at the TMC show in Tampa: cellphone-based diagnostic software and a vibration analyzer.
Citing the company's goal of helping customers achieve faster and less expensive maintenance, Jack Patterson, MD product manager for Eaton's truck component aftermarket division, said: “Anyone can repair a truck; it's finding out what to repair that takes the most time and that time can be costly.”
The commercial vehicle version of Eaton's MD-500 scan tool will enable some Java-based cellphones to be used as diagnostic tools for medium-and heavy-duty trucks.
Patterson explained that giving cellphones diagnostic capability is a relatively inexpensive way to get a head start on maintenance issues that crop up on the road.
In order to function as a scan tool, however, a cellphone must meet several basic requirements.
It has to have a screen and serial port, which is then connected to a $300 to $400 communication box and cord for downloading the vehicle fault codes.
Diagnostics software from Java must also be downloaded into the phone so that the data can be read.
Eaton's Vehicle Vibration Analyzer, the MD-300V, is designed for use by shop technicians to find and isolate the cause of vehicle vibration, regardless of whether the components involved are Eaton-made or not, said Matthew Starks, manager-installation & support development.
“About 20% to 30% of shop maintenance issues are vibration-related,” he pointed out. “Today, technicians replace parts and components in stages as a way to locate and isolate the source of vibration. But when you are talking about pulling axles and dropping driveshafts, that gets to be very expensive in terms of labor and time.”
The MD-300-V can determine the cause of the problem, pinpoint its location, and suggest a repair procedure. The tool uses software on a PC that is hooked to the vehicle through two speed sensors and another sensor under the driver's seat.
Although the basic package costs $5,000 and the full graphic option is $10,000, Starks said that cost can recouped simply by eliminating the unnecessary repairs and vehicle downtime that accompany inaccurate diagnosis.
“Changing a driveline alone starts at $3,500 … the reason you have this analyzer package is to reduce that kind of unnecessary maintenance,” he added.