It wasn’t all that long ago that remote diagnostics was a capability always discussed in the future tense. Today, its use is rapidly expanding in a growing number of fleet maintenance operations, and for some very good reasons.
“The remote diagnostic system helps us understand the sense of urgency in a repair,” said Bryan Burningham, director of maintenance at Challenger Motor Freight after his fleet first adopted Volvo’s Remote Diagnostics when it was introduced a few years ago. “With remote diagnostics we know exactly what’s happening with our trucks and can be sure that they keep moving.”
In 2013, Volvo made its Remote Diagnostics system standard on all Volvo-powered vehicles. Beginning this year, the company announced that the fault code monitoring system would be expanded to include I-Shift transmission components on model year 2016 trucks.
In March of 2014, the 25,000th Volvo with Remote Diagnostics, a VNL 670 model, joined about 700 other Volvos in the fleet at Averitt Express with the connected vehicle platform.
“Remote Diagnostics allows our corporate maintenance team to work with our drivers and in-house shops to proactively assess and address issues,” said Steve Maxson, vice president of equipment. “This dramatically reduces downtime, which keeps our equipment on the road delivering freight on time, contributes to driver and customer satisfaction as well as reduces costs associated with road breakdowns and towing.”
At Mack Trucks, news of the 25,000th activation of the Mack GuardDog Connect remote diagnostics solution in July of this year included delivery of a Pinnacle model to 3 Star Daylighting. “I have used the GuardDog system twice so far, and it is very informative and keeps you up to date when issues arise,” said Aaron Hall, fleet manager. “In the past we completely relied on drivers and the information they provided.”
GuardDog Connect has been standard on Mack Pinnacle and Granite models since 2013 and on TerraPro concrete pumpers since early 2015. Earlier this year, Mack expanded GuardDog Connect coverage to include the monitoring of fault codes for Mack mDRIVE automated manual transmissions.
About one year ago, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) marked the 100,000th installation of its Detroit Virtual Technician remote diagnostic system. First introduced for the Freightliner Cascadia, Virtual Technician is now standard on most Freightliner and Western Star trucks equipped with Detroit engines.
Recently entering production are the Kenworth TRUCKTECH+ and Peterbilt SmartLINQ fully integrated remote diagnostics systems, which are standard on Class 8 trucks equipped with PACCAR MX-13 engines. Navistar has also launched its remote diagnostic system, OnCommand Connection for all makes of commercial trucks, including heavy-, medium- and severe-duty vehicles, that works in conjunction with a customer’s Geotab system.
Remote diagnostics solutions also have long-term value. “It gives us a predictive ability,” said Challenger’s Bryan Burningham. “Remote diagnostics helps us understand common failures. It helps us see what kind of skills our technician should have, what parts we should be stocking, and the strengths and weaknesses of the trucks so we can work harder to get the best truck for our needs.”