Technology is making waves everywhere these days, and the trucking industry has not shied away from advances designed to aid productivity and customer experience. With new innovations now available, things that couldn’t have been even dreamed about a generation ago have become commonplace.
Fleets today have instant access to data such as weather forecasts, regulatory websites, diagnostic updates, online training methods, and repair procedures from their maintenance shops, making it easier for operators to make decisions that affect their fleets.
“Customers are looking for more value from their fleet management solutions providers,” Ty Cross, vp of maintenance, Ryder System, told FleetOwner. “It goes beyond just traditional maintenance. Customers rely on our expertise to help their fleets run as effectively and efficiently as possible.
“Ryder incorporates the latest technology and equipment in its maintenance facilities to help enhance safety and improve the quality and efficiency of work performed, said Cross. “For example, laptop-based, wireless diagnostics technology is used not only by technicians in our shops, but by mobile technicians on the road.”
Cross said that, “DSL and satellite broadband connectivity in Ryder facilities provides:
- Immediate vehicle diagnostics software updates, Internet-based vehicle repair procedures, multimedia-based online training, and direct access to vendor parts systems for easy parts identification.
- Direct access to regulatory websites for clarification of Federal or State rulings and regulations, such as DOT, FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), and OSHA.
- Real time access to local or distant weather information that may influence fleet operational decisions.
“The wireless technologies in our maintenance facilities are necessary to keep up with the rapid pace of advances in today’s vehicles,” Jim Feenstra, senior vp of marketing for Penske Truck Leasing, told FleetOwner. “Engines are increasingly more complex and the integration of wireless vehicle diagnostic technologies and our own proprietary maintenance technology system is necessary to service these engines.”
Lease customers see facilities as an extension of the brand, said Feenstra, and the technology available is not only used for support but also for a comfortable experience when they are at the facility. “Today, we’re taking a much more customer-centric approach for the professional driver, fleet manager and consumer truck rental customer, and our associates working in these facilities. Some of the design features include comfortable driver waiting areas with amenities like flat-screen TVs and wireless Internet access, all geared toward creating a positive experience and transacting business in a welcoming environment,” he said.
“We’re also incorporating environmentally friendly approaches into our newer facilities that include special energy-saving lighting systems and proactive measures to prevent spills like double-lined fuel tanks with 24/7 leak detection and monitoring systems, and using environmentally sound oil changing equipment,” noted Feenstra.
“We will continue to see advancements in shop design intended to improve productivity, environmental, and safety performance,” said Ryder’s Cross. “New equipment, such as four-point lifts to replace traditional pits, will enhance safety and environmental compliance. More and more facilities will be equipped with high speed Internet connectivity for better information exchange and to put important information at the fingertips of technicians. Advanced diagnostic equipment will improve maintenance repair times.”
“Going forward, it’s hard to predict exactly what the next new thinking in shop design will be; however, we can be sure new technology tools and new vehicle technologies will continue to play a substantial factor,” said Penske’s Feenstra.