Fleet Management

Changing How Fleets Buy Onboard Computers

Volvo, Mack, Omnitracs ink deal for fleet management services straight from the factory.

October 2015, TruckingInfo.com - Department

by Jim Beach, Technology Contributing Editor - Also by this author

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Photo: Volvo Trucks North America
Photo: Volvo Trucks North America

Volvo and Mack truck customers will be able to spec Omnitracs fleet management services directly from their dealer as part of an agreement announced in August.

Omnitracs will provide telematics software to enhance the onboard telematics platform and diagnostic services offered by Mack and Volvo.

“What we are doing is utilizing Volvo’s and Mack’s standard hardware they put in every new truck,” explains Rich Glasmann, vice president of OEM strategy, sales and marketing for Omnitracs. “It pushes telematics data out to the cloud, we take it from the cloud and add our services, and then push it to a website,” where users can access the data.

Since customers can use fleet management services using hardware embedded at the factory, “they don’t have to pay for that hardware twice,” says Conal Deedy, Volvo Trucks director of connected vehicle services. In addition, “when the truck comes from the factory, they can put it into service more quickly. They don’t have to send it out to get the system installed.”

The system will also be available to existing customers who already have the diagnostic hardware. “They can just turn on the service. They won’t need an install kit.”

The menu of services to be offered has yet to be determined, Glassman says, “but it will be basic services such as message, routing, navigation, driver productivity-type features, fuel tax reporting — a whole fleet of products.”

Given the different kinds of customers that Volvo and Mack attract, he says, “the service we develop will be unique for each brand.”

In addition, the companies will position the products for two types of customers. The ones that buy a new truck can select the services from the master equipment list. These customers could pre-pay for a fixed-term subscription or perhaps finance the service with the truck purchase. For customers that had the option but decided to wait, “we will have them go to our website or our sales team and acquire the services as an aftermarket purchase.”

Volvo has already inked similar agreements with software providers, and Deedy says the company will continue to seek such partnerships where it made sense.

“It’s been our intention from the beginning to partner with multiple best-in-class providers,” he says. “Not everyone, but those that complement our customer base. We are making sure we have the right partners in the right segments.”

That gives customers a choice, he adds. “They can pick the provider that works best for them.”

Glassman says Omnitracs will also continue to pursue OEM partners. “We are looking to work with partners of all shapes and sizes — whether OEMs or other technology providers.”

It all comes down to what customers want, he explains. “At the end of the day, customers want variety. Not all are going to settle for one make or model.”

This agreement is part of a trend in which truck OEMs are increasingly making a telematics platform standard equipment on their trucks.

There is not an exact date for when the services will be available, Deedy says. “We’ve gotten far enough along with Omnitracs to work on bringing it to market, but I won’t speculate on when it will come,” he says. “We want to make sure it works right.”

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