TAMPA, FL – Eaton introduced two new diagnostic tools here at the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) annual meeting – the MD-300V vibration analyzer and a cell phone-based scan tool – to offer fleets a way to speed up maintenance and thus reduce its cost.
“Anyone can repair a truck – it’s finding out what to repair that takes the most time and that time can be costly,” said Jack Patterson, MD tool product manager for Eaton Corp.’s truck component aftermarket division. “Detecting where the problem is, that’s the key – that decreases the amount of time needed to make a repair and gets a truck going much sooner.”
Patterson said Eaton is now offering a way to turn cell phones into scan tools. He said a cell phone diagnostic capability is a relatively inexpensive way to get a head start on maintenance issues that may crop up on the road.
“Scan tools cost a lot of money, so why not take an existing platform and give it the ability to do complete vehicle diagnostics?” he said. “It’s cheaper than spending $800 to $4,000 for a single scan tool that, in many cases, can only work on one component.”
Patterson stressed that several basic requirements need to be met for a cell phone to function as a scan tool. One is that the phone must 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 for it to read the data, he added.
A similar approach is behind Eaton’s new MD-300V tool, which is designed 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 today are vibration-related,” he said. “Today, technicians replace parts and components in stages as a way to locate and isolate the source of vibration – but when you’re talking about pulling axles and dropping driveshafts, that gets very expensive in terms of labor and time.”
The MD-300V uses software on a PC hooked to the vehicle through two speed sensors and one other sensor placed under the driver’s seat to measure and isolate the source of the vibration for faster and more accurate repair times. Though the basic package costs $5,000 and the full graphic option $10,000, Starks said those costs can be recouped by eliminating unnecessary repairs and vehicle downtime by accurately pinpointing the source of the problem.