Technology: Inside a self-driving truck with Torc Robotics
A crowd grew around the Navistar press conference where a screen displayed the type of truck telematics that we come to expect today, but this was 2014, and the truck that was being tracked wasn’t an International truck. OnCommand Connection was one of the savviest moves the OEM made in the 2010s. It was the first OEM to offer an open platform to track truck operation and efficiency on any brand of vehicle. That keen eye on the power of data continues to permeate Navistar’s strategy going forward in the TRATON Group era.
“Data from the vehicle is useful in our development process,” said Mathias Carlbaum, chief executive officer and president, Navistar International Corp. “Additionally, where I see huge opportunities is in predictive maintenance. Some of it is based on the sensors on the vehicles, some of it is based on A.I., but the data we get gives us the possibility of predictive maintenance to avoid putting a vehicle on the side of the road. It’s also the ability to do the right maintenance and bundle in the right parts at the right time.”
Dealer service locations play a large role in that and have been a focus in Navistar’s investments. Carlbaum turned the dealer’s role in acting on the data up to 11.
“I almost like to think of it as a Formula One stop where nothing is unexpected,” he said. “We will be driving in that direction as the data and predictive maintenance enables the dealerships to be faster and more prepared by having the right parts and the right technicians at the dealership. They’re prepared to do the work.”
Carlbaum noted the continued consolidation of the heavy-duty dealer market and how the use of truck data can extend service solutions.
“A wider portfolio of services will be requested from the customer for the dealer,” he said. “That’s an initiative that we will enhance.”
The (manufacturing) source code
Before the TRATON Group acquisition, Navistar was already putting Industry 4.0 processes in place, most notably in its new San Antonio plant that recently held its ribbon-cutting ceremony. The digitally-driven approach to manufacturing will continue to evolve under Carlbaum’s tenure. For his part, he introduced the idea of modular scale and component approach.
“Modularization is a religion in the group,” he said. “By going modular, you get scale, you have less components, you get scale on those components; by going modular with common interfaces, the exchange between the brands is easier. You decrease the amount of parts that need to be stocked, both for the aftermarket and for production.”
With reduced complexity comes greater speed, particularly in how Navistar can share technology with the global TRATON Group brands. Carlbaum called it Navistar 4.1.
“We’re building with what we have and we will add things and we will be sharing,” he said. “Everything shall be planned and our organization shall be there with data to give the right service to the customer without surprises. Data is end-to-end–we take it from the vehicle, through our manufacturing process, through our service practices, and then into our R&D.”
You can see how that plays out by clicking below and reading more of the Navistar on Navistar series.