One of the biggest challenges facing the datafication of the trucking industry is getting everyone to speak the same language. The integration of complex technology systems is not unlike the integration trend you see within today’s powertrains. For systems to share data, they need to be able to understand each other. The same goes from the heavy-duty aftermarket. Recently, the HDDA: Heavy Duty segment of the Auto Care Association completed a study to determine the viability of establishing product information standards for the heavy-duty aftermarket supply chain.
“Our key finding—the number one most important takeaway—is that there is a significant opportunity to create a product data standard for the heavy-duty industry,” Sheila Andrews, Auto Care Association director for HDDA, told a packed meeting room at the Mirage Hotel and Casino during the Heavy-Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW). “One of the misconceptions about the study was that we were going to create a heavy-duty catalog based on year, make and model, and then throw it at the industry. That’s the exact opposite of what we were doing. We were studying whether it was feasible to [create a product standard], and how and what we needed from the industry, as far as resources, to do it.”
The Heavy Duty Industry Feasibility Study concluded that:
- Developing a heavy-duty data practice is feasible through leveraging the work of others and creating a data superset to support all segments.
- Rich content is beneficial to the heavy-duty industry including vehicle vocation, product specifications, interchange data, VMRS coding and images.
- Conducting data planning and management, and learning from others, will help ensure that data standards can be useful to all industry participants.
- Stakeholders must understand that this effort is one of collaboration, not competition, seeking to standardize existing available data, not to divulge proprietary information.
As a fleet manager, you know VMRS. While VMRS codes are a starting point, Bill Hanvey, president and chief executive officer of the Auto Care Association, said that VMRS only takes the industry so far.
“There are opportunities for other product categories that are not contained within [VMRS] for us to create this superset of data, which includes all of the data, not just the product categories,” he said. “It expands the offerings, in terms of the data, that distributors would be able to provide their customers.”
The heavy-duty aftermarket is a complex network of data senders and receivers, all with their own datasets of product specs, box sizes, part numbers and a cornucopia of other product data. The HDDA does not aim to gather any data that suppliers aren’t already providing to the industry. Its goal is to standardize the data that is already available to distributors and end users.
“The way I like to put this is that it’s the industry’s opportunity to write the alphabet of that product language—where you can be the creators of the A’s, B’s and C’s,” Andrews explained. “What we’re asking from everyone—from the data receiver side, distributors, retailers and third-party data managers—is to please tell your suppliers that you want a standardized system, and that you’d like everyone to be able to speak the same language. We’re also looking for suppliers that interested in joining the working group.”