March 6, 2017 2:45 AM, EST
Engine Makers Emphasize the Power of Telematics Support for Customers
Joseph Terry/TT

This story appears in the March 6 print edition of Transport Topics.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Engine makers, two of whom also build heavy-duty trucks, emphasized the powerful role of telematics in delivering customer support as they announced service-related features.

The three companies made their announcements during separate presentations at the Technology & Maintenance Council annual meeting here. TMC is a division of American Trucking Associations.

Mack Trucks is offering a free 30-day trial of its fleet management services provided in conjunction with telematics provider Telogis, and, separately, launched two kinds of performance-related over-the-air updates.

Mack is focused on taking “the complexity out of telematics and making it more of a service and service experience,” said David Pardue, vice president of connected vehicles and uptime services for Mack Trucks.

The Greensboro, North Carolina- based manufacturer is a unit of Volvo Group.

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Mack’s telematics service, Telogis Fleet, includes diagnostic data, driver behavior scorecards, vehicle location and history and real-time alerts, Mack said. Trucks equipped with its GuardDog Connect hardware and Mack MP engines built after 2014 are eligible for the free trial, and up to 10 trucks per customer can be included.

Mack has 50,000 connected vehicles, and 72% of its customers have some form of an extended telematics subscription, which initially is free for the first two years of vehicle ownership. “Customer use, customer engagement drives more of those ‘ah-ha’ moments than sales information,” Pardue said.

Also, its newly launched remote over-the-air updates include software adjustments to maximize performance if changes are needed.

Updates will be available for all Mack models equipped with GuardDog Connect and Mack’s 2017 engines.

Meanwhile, engine maker Cummins Inc. introduced extended drain intervals through a free oil-sampling program that uses engine oil analysis by the company with engine performance data to extend oil drain intervals up to 80,000 miles.

The option is available to customers using its 2017 X15 efficiency series or X15 performance series engines and a Cummins-approved CK-4 or FA-4 engine oil, according to Cummins. The new drain interval is about twice as long as was recommended for a 2016 ISX engine, the company said.

Plus, Cummins launched a mobile app that takes some of the most useful capabilities within the company’s diagnostic Guidanz service — including fault codes and other key engine information — and makes them available to smartphone and tablet users.

Guidanz is connected to Cummins’ global database, which constantly updates service histories from similar equipment being used around the world, according to the company.

Also, a new service performs engine software updates on a single vehicle or an entire fleet — while they are on the road — with as little as five minutes of equipment downtime, Cummins said.

Meanwhile, Volvo Trucks North America launched a similar service using telematics via cellular communications to update the trucks, engines and transmissions of its customers’ vehicles without having to come into a maintenance shop.

Its service, Remote Programming, will be available in the third quarter for all heavy-duty trucks with engines compliant with 2017 federal emissions standards.

The Greensboro, North Carolina- based manufacturer also has a retrofit option for trucks built from 2010 to 2016. VTNA is a unit of Volvo Group.

“We’re doing more with connectivity. This is over-the-air programming for engines, transmissions and aftertreatment systems,” said Wade Long, VTNA director of product marketing.

“If a truck starts hauling liquid bulk freight, you might want to optimize the transmission for gentle shifting to reduce sloshing in the tank trailer,” Long said.

For trucks made as early as 2010, there is a retrofit kit that takes about 15 minutes to install, said Ash Makki, a Volvo marketing manager. After the hardware is installed, telematics firm Geotab Inc. connects VTNA’s Remote Programming through the truck’s diagnostics.