Matthew Pfaffenback, director of telematics, Daimler Trucks North America, speaks at the ALK Transportation Technology Summit May 5. (Photo courtesy of Able Communications)

Matthew Pfaffenback, director of telematics, Daimler Trucks North America, speaks at the ALK Transportation Technology Summit May 5. (Photo courtesy of Able Communications)

OEM powertrain integration will ultimately positively disrupt the telematics industry, according to Matthew Pfaffenback, director of telematics, Daimler Trucks North America.

Speaking at the ALK Transportation Technology Summit held May 4-7 in Princeton, N.J., Pfaffenback said the OEM has “a lot to gain or lose” in terms of telematics when it comes to supporting the vehicle in the field.

On the other hand, he noted that while fleets have discovered the importance of telematics, many of them doubt the ability of individual OEMs to design telematics offerings for their specific needs, which has led to the proliferation of third-party vendors supplying these systems.

While telematics service providers have become well established, the key is the ability of these services to integrate with a fleet’s existing systems, Pfaffenback said. He added that stand-alone services are left-alone services and that fleets are driven to consolidate their applications rather than split them apart. As a result, new services that do not integrate well with existing processes are unlikely to be adopted.

The lesson, Pfaffenback said, is that both OEMs and telematics service providers have to adapt. OEMs can convert data into information and provide to both large and small fleets. While “a lot of information that could be very useable comes from the powertrain,” that is not information that engine and transmission OEMs want to share.

He added that the OEM focus should be about information truck customers cannot get anywhere else, and that OEMs must develop connectivity solutions that complement the solutions already provided by telematics service providers.

Referring to Daimler’s partnership with Zonar in developing an onboard tablet and the companies' Virtual Technician service, he said that instead of a vehicle coming into the shop with a “blank page,” now it comes in with a lot of information about the vehicle.

Further making the case for OEM-provided telematics platforms is the fact that that telematics providers have said they want to move into the software business and not be in the hardware business, he said. “Our intention is to be a complementary service to those provided by the telematics service providers."

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