Driving for utopia

The current standard operating procedure for major truck lessors is to leverage highly computerized in-shop and mobile-tech diagnostics solutions to get customers' trucks rolling again as quickly as possible, but providing remote-diagnostic capability is the “utopia” that Ryder is driving to reach, according to Jeannette McCarty, the giant leasing firm's vice president of operations & engineering.

“We're already working with many of our major equipment suppliers on conversions of vehicle fault codes to better translate those codes to make them more actionable by our techs,” McCarty points out. “The goal is to be able, across more vehicle systems, to quickly determine how critical a diagnostic event is so a tech can determine if it needs to be addressed right away or can wait until the next scheduled maintenance interval.”

In working with OEMs that have or will develop their own proprietary remote-diagnostic capabilities, such as Freightliner's Virtual Technician, McCarty says Ryder wants to develop an “agnostic remote-diagnostics system to serve our customers' needs.”

She explains that today Ryder is working with a partner in this realm and goes on to add that “regardless of truck OEM, we are working on having that [same remote-diagnostic] capability and are already making progress on converting fault codes [for remote transmission].”

McCarty points out that Ryder's current fourth-generation diagnostics system can translate the codes “into plain English for quick action” at computers stationed in its shop locations or via laptops that mobile techs can take right to where a truck is down. She notes having the mobile diagnostic tool is crucial to minimizing downtime.

“Vehicles have changed drastically over the past 20 years,” McCarty asserts. “They are much more complicated and require a powerful diagnostic tool to maintain. And what customers realize from what we offer them is minimal downtime and fewer come-backs for vehicles that have been repaired because the diagnosis of the problem was both quick and accurate.”

She notes that Ryder's mobile-diagnostic tool is a fully equipped laptop that runs the same software as the fixed PCs in its shops. “Every one of our 800 repair locations has at least one mobile diagnostic tool that goes out with a tech on a fully equipped service truck and there can be as many as three of our PC-based diagnostic tools in the bays.”

To be sure, McCarty adds, “Wireless remote-diagnostic capability will be the next big wave in truck maintenance.”

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