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On the Road

Don’t overlook truck OTA engine reprogramming

David Sickels is the Senior Editor of Fleet Equipment. He has a history of working in the media, marketing and automotive industries in both print and online.

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Over-the-air updates are a great way to give trucks a boost in engine effectiveness and reliability without requiring a ton of downtime.

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Click here to watch more of FE’s On the Road video series.

Here is a transcript of the video:

What’s the deal with over-the-air engine reprogramming?

It sounds like the start of a Seinfeld bit, but actually, it’s what OEMs are hearing from their customers more and more.

Most manufacturers who offer it say OTA reprogramming had already been steadily gaining traction pre-pandemic among fleets looking for a boost in engine effectiveness and reliability. Today, it has a great reputation among fleets for improving productivity and efficiency while keeping trucks out of service bays.

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The OTA updating process varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but you’ll find most are designed to work with your fleet to improve engine reliability, performance and even fuel economy.

This is because with most modern diesel engines now being electronically controlled, many potential failures can be avoided by correcting issues with a software update that’s as easy to install as updating Clash of Clans on your phone. OTA updates can help avoid potential issues altogether before the engine can even detect an issue is present – and that allows you to be the master of your domain.

You see, prior to over-the-air updates, you’d have to go to a dealership, you’d wait for your average dwell time to go up, and then you’d get your software update. OTA updates allows this process to happen on your time, wherever you may be. You take 20 minutes or so and down the road you go.

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Did you ever notice… how something always tends to happen to the engine when your right in between PMs, and the result is just a ton of downtime for your fleet?

That’s less likely to happen with some OTA engine programming, which is also capable of monitoring engine function and noticing when something isn’t quite right. Oftentimes, a fleets OTA provider can monitor the engine’s current calibration and constantly look for any new updates that are available.

Another benefit is that OTA reprogramming tends to be relatively simple for drivers to carry out – you don’t really need to be walked through any sort of training. You as the fleet manager just need to use a web portal and, communicate with the driver when the update is available, and the driver executes it while the truck is stopped. So don’t be surprised when that driver calls you back to say these OTA updates… are making them thirsty… for more updates!

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