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Penske brings voice-assisted solutions to the service bay

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Carley Hull is the Editor of Tomorrow's Technician magazine and a contributor to Fleet Equipment.

Penske-Voice-Assist

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It’s not uncommon these days to speak to electronic devices to complete daily tasks. We can ask Google Assistant to make our grocery list, Amazon’s Alexa to play our favorite song and Apple’s Siri to tell us the weather forecast. What if the same kind of system could walk technicians through a preventative maintenance program for your fleet?

Penske Truck Leasing has figured that very thing out with its new fully digital and voice-directed truck fleet preventive maintenance (PM) process, through a voice it calls “Pace.”

Want to see Penske’s voice assistance service tool in action? Click here to watch our video.

In collaboration with Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions and Vitech, Penske’s system uses Honeywell’s Voice Maintenance & Inspection (M&I) solution via a headset worn by technicians, high-speed Aruba indoor and outdoor gigabit Wi-Fi network and rugged mobile tablet devices for technicians to create its voice-directed preventive maintenance system.

“Our approach uniquely positions Penske to care for and maintain the increasingly complex vehicles on the market today, and the emerging vehicle technologies that will be part of the trucking industry in only a few years,” said Gregg Mangione, senior vice president of maintenance at Penske Truck Leasing. “We’re putting the technology our technicians need to work smarter and faster right at the point of repair to keep our customers and their businesses moving forward.”

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In December 2017, Penske completed rolling out the system at all of its Truck Leasing locations, servicing more than 270,000 vehicles. Outfitted with a Talkman headset, technicians can interact with Pace to complete preventive maintenance (PM) inspections, while they are walked through the process from start to finish. Each technician has their own headset, which learns their voice, accents and inflections from a list of approximately 90 template commands.

“With this solution, workers make fewer errors, have higher job satisfaction rates and are more productive,” added Taylor Smith, president of Honeywell’s Workflow Solutions business. “By leveraging our industry-leading voice technology that has improved distribution center operations for more than 25 years, Penske is elevating the level of service that it delivers to its customers. Penske’s transportation expertise and Honeywell’s software and hardware are delivering gains in compliance, quality and productivity.”

Additionally, this proprietary PM process allows Penske to tailor inspections to the specific vehicle, its age, specifications and onboard technologies—recording every step digitally. Gone are the days of pen and paper PMs. Paperwork has been eliminated from the process and everything is recorded digitally while the technician works.

Here’s the full circle of how the system works:

❶ A driver comes into a Penske Truck Leasing location and goes to a kiosk to login truck information and request a repair or service.
❷ From there, the service manager receives the request and schedules the service.
❸ The technician puts on their Talkman headset and is instructed through the PM by Pace, while the service manager can monitor the entire process on a tablet in real time.
❹ All of the data from the PM is recorded in real time as the technician works.

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“The improvement in PM quality has been tremendous,” Penske’s Mangione added. “We know that we’re inspecting with greater consistency. We also saw the process digitization forced us to ensure we had enough inspection tools for all techs working on a shift. That tool use has helped to boost quality as well.

“If I go back over a two-year period, we moved from about 82% PM quality to 89% as a company, but just last year alone, we moved four points, which meant 60,000 less unscheduled shop visits for our customers and service departments.”

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