David A. Kolman, editor, Fleet Maintenance
Freightliner Trucks on display at the Napa, CA, press event.
A real “bad boy” Freightliner heavy duty work truck.
Freightliner 114SD CNG roll-off refuse truck.
The 114SD CNG has dual 40 DGE Agility CNG saddle tanks.
Freightliner work truck with a Vac-Con Combination Sewer Cleaning Machine.
In April of this year, Richard Howard assumed the position of senior vice president of sales and marketing for Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), replacing Mark Lampert who retired.
The leading heavy duty truck manufacturer in North America, DTNA produces and markets commercial vehicles under the Freightliner, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses nameplates.
Howard’s diverse tenure with DTNA has included positions in project management, marketing and financial services that have spanned the globe, including positions based in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada the United States and Asia-Pacific regions.
Additionally, prior to his current assignment in Asia, Howard was the vice president of Daimler Truck Financial USA with specific responsibility to support DTNA’s sales and dealer network.
Service capability revolution
During a recent press event in Napa, CA, Howard provided some insight into what has been happening of late at DTNA, especially with regard to its vocational trucks and vehicle service and repair.
Howard told me that DTNA is working to “revolutionize” its service capabilities by incorporating its Uptime Pro service shop management and technician scheduling system and telematics to repair vehicles faster and better support customers. The idea, he explained, is “to convert data into information and information into wisdom.”
A major effort underway is to reduce the time a truck spends in the shop to no more than three days, added David Hames, DTNA’s general manager of marketing and strategy. This encompasses the company’s Express Assessment program which is being rolled out to its dealers.
The goal of the program is to have a truck diagnosed within two hours, determine parts availability and provide an estimate of cost and repair time.
Integral to the effort is DTNA’s Detroit Virtual Technician – a real-time, onboard diagnostic system. It collects data immediately when the “check engine” light comes on and generates a technical snapshot of the engine's status before, during and after a fault code event.
The system prompts the experts in the company’s Customer Service Center (CSC) to analyze performance data from the vehicle to determine what the problem is, what caused it, when it needs to be fixed and where to go for service.
As for the vocational truck market, Howard said DTNA wants “to penetrate it like never before.”
He noted that investments in Freightliner vocational trucks, staff and resources – which began during the recession – are continuing, and that has helped DTNA grow its market share in this segment.
Freightliner launched its SD (severe duty) truck line in 2011 and plans to in introduce another new work truck to the marketplace next month.
As for Class 6 to 8 vehicles, Howard said Freightliner has been the market leader and has been “consistently profitable” since 2009.
DTNA has a clear vision and aligned strategies for going forward, he said. But “at the end of the day, it is all about our people. Great people build great organizations,” and DTNA has great people, dealers and customers.