You’re already collecting a huge amount of truck service data—the problem is that it’s often siloed.
It’s like filling up four kiddie pools instead of a nicely constructed in-ground pool in the backyard. To improve your service operation, you’re going to need to mix all the data together to see what insight bubbles to the surface. That means correlating VMRS data with parts and labor records linking it back to the remote diagnostic fault that started the whole process, and then analyzing that data to find greater shop efficiencies.
Yeah, it’s complicated, but not impossible. There’s plenty of diagnostic data flowing off the trucks already. You and your fleet manager likely already communicate well in that regard. So let’s focus on your biggest role in the data process—capturing the right repair data during a service event.
“Multiple options are available, including manual entry, but that does not mean all methods are sufficient,” said Dave Covington, Noregon’s chief technology officer. “Your in-shop diagnostic and repair solution should automatically capture vehicle and repair information to ensure accuracy.”
Covington highlighted Noregon’s JPRO roll call feature, which feature automatically captures pertinent vehicle details upon connection. Along with fault data, the tool captures information such as VIN number and component details like serial number and software version to reduce errors associated with manual entry. When users create reports in JPRO, such as a preventative maintenance report, fields are auto-populated with this information to ensure accurate vehicle information is stored and passed along to the customer.
“With the expansion of the cloud use for data exchange, the capability to capture repair data for service providers is becoming a lot easier,” said Renaldo Adler, industry principal for asset maintenance with Trimble Transportation Enterprise, which includes the company formerly known as TMW Systems. Bringing Trimble, TMW Systems and 10-4 under one umbrella will allow the company to bring more robust solutions to the market faster, according to Thomas Fansler, president of Trimble Transportation Mobility.
“In order for fleet service managers to make better decisions on current repairs or future analysis on repair history,” Adler continued, “it is import to capture all repairs, whether internal or performed by external service providers.”
If you’re still using paper service records, that’s okay. It works for you and that’s great, but to take service to the next level, you’re going to have to go digital. How do you get started? Talk with your fleet manager about:
➊ What software your fleet is currently using and if it could meet your future needs.
➋ Identifying your biggest service improvement needs—faster truck triage? Parts inventory management? Warranty and repair tracking? Pick a few that fit you.
➌ Detailing what data you already have and in what form—paper forms? VIN scans? Etc.
➍ Shopping around for a data solutions provider.
The key to using data to boost your service operation will be integrating all the data that surrounds the service event.
“Adapting fleet management software allows companies to have a diagnostics platform and a service maintenance platform as one comprehensive platform,” said Chris Ransom, director of solutions engineering at Verizon Connect, which has a robust dataset. The company has been collecting data since 2004 and its platform extends across hundreds of different industry sectors and includes coverage from multiple geographies around the world. “Databases are continuously updated so reports are always current, and data is available as a single snapshot with regular updates, over a timeline, or as a continuous feed. Collected data is also verified for accuracy and completeness with technical measures for GPS signal strength, speed, heading and accelerometer events.”
“It is import to capture all repairs, whether internal or performed by external service providers.”
— Renaldo Adler, Trimble Transportation Enterprise
When it comes to integrating truck operational and diagnostic information with accurate service data you’ll want to ensure that your provider has a robust Web Services or API offering.
“This allows for a more real-time data exchange versus the old method of file transfers,” Adler explained. “It is also a more reliable integration and provides better security and error logging.”
Keep in mind that some data solutions providers can also integrate with other companies that offer similar services. Geotab, for example, has a variety of different integrations with maintenance solutions such as Dossier Fleet Management Software and TMT Fleet Maintenance. Additionally, Geotab also has integrations with Remote Diagnostics providers such as Noregon’s TripVision, Navistar’s OnCommand Connection, Cummins’ Remote Diagnostics and Eaton IntelliConnect.
If data isn’t already impacting your service process before the truck rolls into your shop, it soon will. Remote diagnostics are notifying your fleet manager of the severity of the fault that was triggered, and hopefully he or she is communicating that information to you, the fleet service manager. That will impact your service scheduling and triage practices. (Check out the story on page 34 for more on that.) Once the truck rolls into one of your bays, the data collection begins.
“A good fleet management platform not only triggers the code and alerts various personnel, but also allows for a work order to be completed that matches the fault,” Verizon Connect’s Ransom said. “Through this method, maintenance personnel get alerted of the issue, fix the issue, and log the issue as fixed along with any notes.”
“Review the diagnostics reports to determine why the service event happened and how it can be prevented in the future”
— Chris Ransom, Verizon Connect
Though data capture can be automated to some degree, you’re still on the hook as the service manager to make sure the correct data is recorded. As Scott Sutarik, Geotab’s associate vice president of commercial vehicle solutions, said: “Telematics providers can provide the data, but it is ultimately up to the shop to complete the feedback loop on what actually failed when the unit is brought into the shop. By utilizing this data, it is possible to create heuristic engines that can provide insight into the most likely failure.”
So what information should you be capturing?
“It is incredibly important to always know the condition of your vehicles—whether they are in the shop, in transit, or not in service,” Noregon’s Covington said, explaining that communication between the in-shop data-driven solution and fleet management system is key. “If a vehicle has an issue in transit, dispatchers can view historical vehicle data to understand if it is a recurring issue, and technicians have access to the same information when the vehicle arrives in the shop. This helps organizations better plan for repairs through improved insights before a vehicle even enters the bay.”
Noah Gates, telematics technical lead at Omnitracs, recommended that any data collected should also help reduce the cost of future repairs.
“Data such as duration of the repair and parts used for the repair can help with ordering of parts and scheduling of service events—reducing unnecessary downtime,” he said. “Recording information around the fault code and the actual problem can help the technician diagnose similar problems faster, cutting down diagnostic time.”
Collecting the right data is half the battle; the other half is collecting it accurately and in a format that jives with your fleet’s systems. Trimble’s Adler said that the best tip for capturing accurate data during service is to capture it on the shop floor.
“Ideally via a kiosk or tablet as opposed to not having the technician write down the repair information and then keying it in,” he said. “Standards are also very important for reporting, analytics and benchmarking. The best solution is to use the TMC’s VMRS coding for coding repair orders and parts.”
“Equip your shop or fleet with tools that perform holistic diagnostics, allowing you to view the entire vehicle rather than a select component or two,” Noregon’s Covington recommended. “Use that tool to create a snapshot of the entire vehicle when healthy so you have a baseline to compare when there is an issue. By using a tool that simultaneously diagnoses all ECUs, technicians can better understand the relationship between components and improve diagnosis of tricky problems such as communication issues.”
Capturing and correlating data is great, but let’s not forget the years of expertise and experience that you and your technicians bring to the table. A remote diagnostics fault code might have brought a truck into your shop, but that doesn’t always mean that the service symptoms matched the cure. You’ll want to work with your service software providers to ensure that you can bring value to the data by including feedback with the data collected.
“Review the diagnostics reports to determine why the service event happened and how it can be prevented in the future, whether it’s through setting up proactive reminders for tune-ups, oil changes and other preventive maintenance activities or working with drivers to prevent harsh braking,” Verizon Connect’s Ransom recommended. “Fleet service managers are able to get these detailed maintenance reports directly to their mobile phone or tablet for their immediate attention, so that they can quickly develop a maintenance plan of action.”
“Providing feedback on the repair order actions and parts used for the repair for fault code failures will be the next wave of data integrations,” Trimble’s Adler said. “This will allow for prescriptive analytics, not only providing fault data, but also what parts will be needed for the repair. This will allow for better scheduling of repairs and assuring that the parts are available when the equipment shows up for repair or knowing which parts are required for road services.”