Life in the digital world is full of intangibility. Heavy-duty trucks that roar down the highways are transformed into plots on an MPG graph and notifications in a safety or maintenance incident. Staring at a dashboard with seemingly limitless digital truck data can be overwhelming and intimidating. The key to using data to impact the real world is knowing where to start.
“Being able to see your entire fleet is extremely helpful; being able to see the individual trucks that you have to focus on, that’s invaluable,” said Matt Pfaffenbach, director of connectivity for Daimler Trucks North America. “That’s how you make it tangible—allow the user to work with those trucks, see how the tool works and then use the information to make operational decisions or coach the driver.”
“The analytics tool allows us to focus in on the truck and the driver,” agreed Dan Deppeler, vice president of maintenance with Paper Transport. “It highlights where we can add value—specifically in MPG coaching and safety coaching moments.”
The analytics tool Deppeler referred to is the new Detroit Connect Analytics platform, which is deploying with Freightliner New Cascadias as they hit the road and is available at the end of the year for current model Cascadias. It’s a data-crunching analytics dashboard focused on fleet MPG and safety performance. At a glance, Connect Analytics charts a fleet’s MPG usage, highlighting the lower performers and providing detailed information into the truck’s operation, including time spent in cruise, idle time and more. To help improve safety, the system will also report on events such as the trailer’s roll stability system and collision mitigation system activating.
When faced with a dashboard detailing your fleet’s data, try focusing on two to three under performing trucks to start. Today’s integrated powertrains rely heavily on the use of cruise control to leverage adaptive cruise technologies and save fuel. Chances are that the trucks guzzling down the most diesel are the ones that spend the least amount of time in cruise. Dive into those trucks’ data points to confirm your assumptions and then talk to the driver assigned to that vehicle—maybe there’s simply a need for quick training to make him or her aware of the powertrain’s advanced fuel-saving features. Keep an eye on that truck’s MPG going forward, and you’ll hopefully see an improvement.
Now repeat that process with any behavior you want to improve, be it MPG or safety. Just keep in mind that while dealing with truck data is an objective process, dealing with people often takes a softer approach. Don’t let your connectivity to the truck dictate how you connect with your drivers. Making data available to your drivers could help them understand where you’re coming from and invite them into the analytics process. You’re all pulling in the same direction, after all.
“The most exciting aspect is the coaching that can happen with the drivers,” Deppeler said with a smile. “The drivers want to operate these trucks as best as they can, and Connect Analytics will give them tools to do that right there in their cab on tablets that we have in the trucks.”