Trucker 6927 Volvoline

Mack, Volvo reduce truck downtime through OTA updates

March 8, 2018
OEMs say over-the-air software updates keeping trucks out of the shop.

ATLANTA. Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks North American (VTNA) – both subsidiaries of Sweden’s Volvo Group – said more truckers in the U.S. are beginning to benefit from remote over-the-air (OTA) software updates, particularly in terms of reducing vehicle downtime.

Speaking at individual media events during the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) 2018 annual meeting, both truck makers each said these updates slashed downtime by thousands of days, a figure certain to grow as their respective OTA programs continue to expand.

“We see great potential for further improving truck availability and the ownership experience as we build on the platform and capabilities we’ve developed over more than two decades,” said Conal Deedy, VTNA’s connectivity director.

Deedy said that more than 1,300 vehicles have received software and parameter updates through Volvo’s Remote Programming system since June. It has cut downtime by more than 600 days, with downloads averaging about 20 minutes.

The updates can be conducted anywhere in the U.S. and Canada where a cellular connection is available. Once the truck is parked, the engine needs to be turned off with the key in the “on” position, and the parking break engaged before an update could begin.

Deedy said the system also offers parameter changes for road speeds, or to shift between various operating modes.

Jason Plumlee, director of maintenance for LTL carrier Saia, touted the possibilities of OTA updates during Volvo’s media event. He confirmed it is resulting in reduced downtime by allowing calibration and other updates without the vehicles having to visit one of the firm’s 35 maintenance facilities.

Meanwhile, David Pardue, Mack’s vice president of connected vehicles and uptime services, shared a similar success story about “Mack Over the Air.” 

Since going live in October, some 20 customers and about 3,500 vehicles have benefited. There have been more than 380 updates, saving more than 500 days of downtime and decreasing the time needed to do a software update from days to minutes – even for older models.

“Mack Over The Air enables customers to ensure their trucks are operating at an optimal level without disrupting their schedules in today’s hypercompetitive just-in- time economy,” said Pardue.

The OEM said Brooklyn Ready Mix recently updated engine and aftertreatment software on all 10 of the company’s concrete mixers during a single day.

The service is available with Mack trucks equipped with the company’s 2017 or newer engines. Mack Over The Air is provided at no charge during the initial two-year base engine warranty period.

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

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