VSP News: Uptime Update, Episode 36 – Connected vehicle services

David Pardue, vice president of connected vehicle and uptime services at Mack Trucks, talks about connected vehicle services, collecting and analyzing data, prioritizing service events, and the latest progress from Mack Trucks on these initiatives.

More and more fleet business decisions are now being driven in response to collecting and analyzing data, and vehicle service is no exception. Companies continue to find ways to turn data into usable information through the development of different programs to help improve vehicle uptime. A critical part of this improved uptime requires better ways to prioritize service events and expedite vehicle maintenance. Mack Trucks’ David Pardue recently discussed connected vehicle services, and the latest progress from the company on these initiatives.


Transcription of interview: 


Erica Schueller, Fleet Maintenance:  Welcome to VSP News: Uptime Update. I am your host Erica Schueller, editor of Fleet Maintenance magazine, covering all maintenance, all vehicle classes, all management, all the time.

More and more fleet business decisions are now being driven in response to collecting and analyzing data, and vehicle service is no exception. Companies like Mack Trucks continue to find ways to turn data into usable information through the development of different programs to help improve vehicle uptime. A critical part of this improved uptime requires better ways to prioritize service events and expedite vehicle maintenance.

We talked with David Pardue, vice president of connected vehicle and uptime services at Mack Trucks about connected vehicle services, and the latest progress from the company on these initiatives.

We first discussed the current state of vehicle telematics – including what kind of information is coming from the vehicle, and how that information is presented and used by customers – whether that be the dealer, the fleets, or the drivers.


David Pardue, Mack Trucks: It’s a continued evolution and learning from the data. When we started Mack GuardDog Connect in 2014, we had a limited population. Now, we have over 100,000 connected vehicles. We collect nearly 65 million records per month of data from those vehicles, so we’re able to learn more about what we initially started with, with our proactive monitoring service, and also how the vehicle works in parallel with other common vehicles with common specs, so we can do more consultative work with things like fuel economy, maintenance practices, different things that fall outside of our traditional powertrain proactive repair-type situations.

Some of the items that came with the vehicle, tied to the vertical integration of our Mack Trucks, now we’re able to monetize the data in other ways with our fleets and with our customers to show them how to better utilize the equipment.


Schueller, Fleet Maintenance: To help utilize this data and ensure the vehicle stays on the road, Mack Trucks provides a number of customer support services to assist fleets. Known as Uptime solutions, a fleet can have the vehicle monitored through the Mack GuardDog Connect telematics system. If an issue arises, a service agent at the Uptime Center proactively reaches out to alert the fleet.

Pardue shares how all the pieces of the Uptime customer support services work together and talks about the next phase of connected vehicle services through Mack Over The Air remote vehicle update capabilities.


Pardue, Mack Trucks: With our Mack GuardDog Connect, and now Mack Over the Air, they’re able to work hand-in-hand through an Uptime Center agent, and through Mack OneCall.

The basic premise is, we have a range of codes that we know how to best handle the service and repair for those fault codes. We know the prioritization – if they’re red or yellow – in terms of the urgency. Our agent, through our ASIST tool, is able to monitor and track when the customer gets a fault code, so that is their key to initiate communications with a customer based on severity. You need to do certain steps with a vehicle like prearrange a repair with a dealer, and those types of things. That’s the role of the agent, through GuardDog Connect.

As we’ve introduced Mack Over The Air their role has expanded, because codes that we know we can repair remotely, or we can update remotely, the agent is able to then schedule that particular repair with the driver at a time that’s convenient.

Let’s say within hours of service (HOS) they’re going to have a scheduled lunch break. We can now arrange to do that update while they’re on lunch break, thus avoiding an additional unplanned downtime and leveraging a time that they’re already going to have the vehicle parked.

Same thing with while the vehicle is being loaded. We can do updates while the vehicle is at a terminal being loaded or unloaded. While the driver is waiting for that to occur we can complete the update during that time. It’s all handled through our Uptime Center agent – scheduling, monitoring during the update, and making sure everything works fine.


Schueller, Fleet Maintenance: Parameter updates are also a functionality made available through Mack Over the Air remote vehicle updates. Pardue shares more insights on, and examples of, this feature.


Pardue, Mack Trucks: A parameter update is a feature that we’ve introduced in conjunction with our Mack Over the Air service. We have a range of codes, or areas of the vehicle – take road speed for example. A driver going from Canada to the U.S. and back, previously would have to take the vehicle out of service, connect it to a diagnostic tool to make any road speed setting changes. Now, we’re able to do that at a location in the route to make the change while they’re going and returning.

The [parameter update] process works the same as Mack Over the Air. It’s scheduled with an agent, they prearrange the time, make the update, and then when the vehicle returns the agent can redo the settings as well.

Parameter updates are a subscription service. It’s the ability to modify the performance of the vehicle, specific to the customers operation at any given time. It is our newest feature, but it works in the same manner as Mack Over the Air.


Schueller, Fleet Maintenance: As it relates to prioritizing vehicle service, Mack Trucks has worked to help better optimize the service intervals of individual vehicles compared to an entire fleet. Pardue talks more about this service, called Dynamic Maintenance.


Pardue, Mack Trucks: Dynamic maintenance is just that – a dynamic maintenance plan. It’s a program that helps optimize how the vehicle is being utilized at a particular time.

Take a traditional maintenance plan that a customer may buy. I’m a regional operator, I’m going to run 100,000 miles per year, and I’m buying a traditional maintenance package. Every 35,000 miles I have maintenance completed.

With dynamic maintenance, maintenance intervals are adjusted to the mileage and the usage of that particular vehicle. Where an old maintenance plan would be based on the entire fleet, dynamic maintenance is based on the specific asset.

Things that we’ve seen, for example, on a particular truck as a regional haul, during an 18-month period of time where that vehicle goes from severe duty to long haul duty throughout different seasons. Dynamic maintenance is able to take that into consideration in the model and adjust the intervals of the maintenance in real time, based on how the vehicle is being utilized.

Additionally, from planned downtime savings, something we’re able to do is to look at other types of services that are due or coming due within a certain period. So, when we recommend a scheduled maintenance interval, we’re able to look ahead and forecast other maintenance aspects that need to be done, bundle that together in the scheduled maintenance plan, and thus avoid another planned downtime event which would have otherwise been scheduled a few weeks or a month down the road.


Schueller, Fleet Maintenance: Interested to read more about dynamic maintenance? Head to the link below for more information.

Thank you for tuning in to VSP News Uptime Update, I’m your host Erica Schueller.

Until our next broadcast, keep up with this, and other industry topics, by visiting us online at VehicleServicePros.com.

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