Aftermarket

Commentary: Information Is King for Aftermarket Service Providers

March 2016, TruckingInfo.com - Editorial

by Denise Rondini, Aftermarket Contributing Editor - Also by this author

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Denise Rondini
Denise Rondini

The size of the truck parts and service aftermarket has grown to $107 billion, according to MacKay & Co., and independent parts and service providers are stepping up their game to ensure they have the necessary skills, tools and technology to meet fleets’ needs.

For example, Marc Karon, president of Total Truck Parts and chairman of the Commercial Right to Repair Coalition lead by the Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network, announced a partnership with the National Automotive Service Task Force. The deal will work to ensure that independent repair shops can easily access the information being made available to them under a Memorandum of Understanding with truck and engine manufacturers.

In addition, HDA Truck Pride announced a partnership with iMatics being billed as “the first ever aftermarket telematics program [for] the commercial vehicle industry.”

The system delivers real time data with vehicle tracking, regulatory compliance standards and an onboard fault guidance diagnostic solution, in addition to digital communication between fleets and the HDA Truck Pride parts and service network.

Unlike most such programs currently on the market, this one is not OEM-based.

Using a Geotab in-vehicle telematics unit as the base, iMatics worked with other software providers to add functionality.

“The onboard diagnostics gives logic to the fault codes based on make, model and year of the vehicle,” explains Tina Alread, director of sales and marketing for HDA Truck Pride. “Certain vehicles are notoriously down for things like low coolant signals that actually are irrelevant.” Based on past history and industry data, the iMatics system can determine whether the code is serious or not.

Each fault code is given a severity rating so the driver and fleet can determine whether the issue is serious enough for the truck to pull over immediately or if it can wait until it gets back to the fleet’s terminal or preferred service provider.

Tying the system into HDA Truck Pride distributors and their Truck Service Experts allows them to monitor the codes, giving them the ability to have parts on hand and bay space available when the truck comes into the shop.

Alread explains that the system is fully customizable.

“Every fleet will be different with what they want on their unit. Some will want tire pressure or reefer temperature monitoring. Others will only care about monitoring driver hours of service.” She adds, “The whole point behind this was to get our members and the repair shops better connected to end users in real time to help the fleets make better decisions.”

Members of a panel at the recent Heavy Duty Dialogue talked about the value of telematics in streamlining the repair process and fostering uptime. They acknowledged that every OEM is trying to develop its own telematics solution. Given the fact that many fleets operate various brands of trucks, the panelists saw some problems with proprietary telematics. Kyle Treadway, president and dealer principal of Kenworth Sales Co., who was on the panel, said, “Each nameplate is developing telematics, but fleets will dictate that there be a generic one.”

Alread says the iMatics solution can be used on any vehicle and that Phase 3 of the roll-out will have the ability “to lay something on top of [the OEM] system so that instead of the fleet having to go to three different places to get information, they will be able to go to one place to get summarized information.”

One place for all the information they need? That’s probably something all fleets can get behind regardless of where the solution comes from.

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