Truck Tech

Rush Truck Centers Pushes the Telematic Frontier Forward

December 13, 2016

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A Rush Call Center technician in San Antonio, TX, works a repair problem for a customer with a truck down in Indianapolis. Photo: Jack Roberts
A Rush Call Center technician in San Antonio, TX, works a repair problem for a customer with a truck down in Indianapolis. Photo: Jack Roberts

I'm on record saying that telematics will be the next big game-changer in trucking - one of those advances where, in 5 to 10 years, you'll wonder how you ever managed to keep a truck fleet rolling without it.

Telematics as been building at a slow boil for several years now. And we're getting close to the point where it's about to really take off. To this point, almost all of the ground work in getting dedicated — and workable — telematics systems up and running has come from the truck OEMs. And that makes a lot of sense - they are the entities with the money, expertise, and eventual payoff once vehicle telematics reach their full potential in fleet operations.

But the reality is that regardless of how good an OEM's proprietary telematics system is, it will be the dealerships that make or break the technology. It's the dealers who will buy in and deliver the enhanced service with decreased downtime.

And while most dealerships are content to adopt their OEM's system and training, a strong signal that telematics are truly going to be big is that fact that some larger dealerships are developing their own systems to better support their customer base.

Rush Truck Centers is a case in point. I was able to tour Rush's new Call Center on the outskirts of San Antonio in mid-December and came away deeply impressed with the company's all-in commitment to using telematics as a way to take customer and vehicle support to the next level.

Brian Mulshine, director of operations, technology, and innovation, has been on the forefront of telematics technology dating back to his days with International. Today he's helped Rush develop a state of the art, proprietary telematics system with an unprecedented degree of flexibility and adaptability.

On the surface, Rush's operation is impressive enough. The Call Center is manned by dedicated service professionals managing service problems from around the country. And the system gives each of them powerful tools to expedite repairs, make sure orders are complete in as little time as possible. But when you start digging a bit deeper underneath, you realize that Rush is truly breaking new ground when it comes to fully integrating telematics platforms across many different providers and suppliers.

Rush is understandably close-mouthed when it comes to disclosing financial investments or details of its telematics program. But Mulshine explained that the dilemma faced by Rush —- a dealership selling vehicles from multiple OEMs — was to either train staff to work on up to four different OEM telematics systems as well as various outside supplier systems or to create its own telematics system - which is exactly what they did.

The new system, slated to be officially unveiled sometime later this year, is interesting in that it was designed from the ground up to interface and interact with every single telematics system in use by a Rush customer. If a fleet calls in using Isuzu's telematics system, for example, the Rush system allows both parties to view data, instigate changes, order repairs, approve POs, order parts, or schedule service or request roadside support with complete transparency. The same holds true for a fleet calling in using an outside supplier system, such as Decisiv. The system is designed to seamlessly work with those systems, to the point where fleets can even customize their own interactions when dealing with Rush - including company PO forms or requiring a vehicle evaluation checklist be filled out before repairs are authorized, for example.

Mulshine is a big believer that trucking needs a standardized telematics platform in place before the true potential this technology has can be reached, and he's playing a leading role with the Technology and Maintenance Council in working toward that goal. It's pretty obvious that Rush's new system incorporates a lot of Mulshine's philosophy when it comes to telematics and, to me, anyway, seems a guidepost pointing the way forward as these systems become more commonly used and the need to move easily between different systems becomes more prevalent.

Comments

  1. 1. James Colley [ December 13, 2016 @ 06:53PM ]

    Very interesting model and extremely smart business. As a co-founder of a mobile inspection platform for the transport industry I am really impressed that this forward thinking dealership has seen the benefits of controlling the access to the telematics information the vehicles are producing and then managing the adhoc repairs and planned maintenance by monitoring the data. I'm very keen to explore this model with our product moving forward so if there are any dealers interested please contact me @ [email protected] or visit our website and get in touch. www.whip-around.com

 

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Author Bio

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Jack Roberts

Senior Editor

As a licensed commercial driver, HDT senior editor Jack Roberts often reports on ground-breaking technical developments and trends in an industry being transformed by technology. With more than two decades covering trucking, in Truck Tech he offers his insights on everything from the latest equipment, systems and components, to telematics and autonomous vehicle technologies.

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