YOUNTVILLE, CA -- Fleets of all sizes that are running Detroit powertrains are about to get access to several new tools that will make it easier to analyze the vast amount of data available from the truck – including not only engine fault code data, but also fuel efficiency and safety data.
Daimler Trucks North America announced to truck reporters here on July 27 that all Freightliner Trucks and Western Star customers with an active Detroit Connect subscription now have access to the Detroit Connect portal. In addition, a mobile app will be available later this year.
The portal is a hub for new and future connectivity services, such as the Detroit Connect Virtual Technician remote diagnostic service, for Detroit-powered fleets.
The Detroit Connect portal provides information about overall fleet health with a few clicks of the mouse, and also lets users take a deeper dive into specific fault events communicated by Virtual Technician.
Real-time fault event notifications delivered through the portal lets fleets quickly determine whether a vehicle requires an immediate service stop or can finish its route or day’s work. The portal also delivers full diagnostic information from Virtual Technician, including the cause of the fault and in some cases the steps needed to repair the issue.
For customers wanting to do a deeper dive into an issue, Detroit Diesel Engine Control (DDEC) reports can also be viewed and archived via the portal.
Company executives stressed that ease of use for customers and the ability to easily integrate the data into their fleet’s real world operations was a priority.
“We’ve had active customers we onboarded early, before we even went into development,” explained Lauren Atinasi, product strategy manager, connectivity. “That’s how we knew the portal would really be something our customers could use.”
Previously, Virtual Technician exceptions were delivered via email, she said. “That’s a lot of information. Utilizing the portal interface will help customers focus on exceptions.”
DTNA is currently piloting the Apple iOS version of the mobile app with customers and is developing an Android version. Both will be available in the October time frame.
Fleets running the new Freightliner Cascadia will also use the new portal (and its mobile version) to access upcoming and future Detroit Connect services, including Detroit Connect Remote Updates over-the-air updates – and they will have access to new fuel efficiency insights and safety events.
The new Detroit Connect Analytics is currently being piloted with 11 fleet customers and will be launched to customers in the October time frame. Customers will be able to choose from fuel analytics, safety analytics, or both.
Jason Krajewski, manager, connectivity insight team, talked about the transformation in truck data – and noted that when he’s taking about “tomorrow,” he’s not talking about 2025, he’s talking just a few months from now.
“We know customers are relying more on connected vehicle data,” he said. “Truck performance data has tremendous value. Where did it go, how did it perform, did that new technology do what it was supposed to?”
As more technologies are added to trucks, he noted, that’s more data available. “Smarter vehicles require you to have smarter people and more, smarter data coming into your back end. We think we can help customers by pre analyzing data using expert knowledge we have in house at DTNA.”
For instance, a new critical safety event viewer will notify users when the event took place, show where it was on a map, and offer the ability to dig into the 30 seconds of data (15 seconds before and 15 seconds after the event). The data will be accessible in the Detroit Connect portal similar to the Virtual Technician information currently available for engine fault codes.
He walked reporters through a demonstration of the fuel efficiency analytics using several hundred trucks currently in the pilot program. With just a few clicks of the mouse, it was easy to see the fleet’s 7.7 mpg average, as well as outliers on both ends of the spectrum – one very low performer at 2.5 mpg and some excellent performers in the 10-plus-mpg range. You could check boxes to filter the results by factors such as application or specs, and look at the data by the last trip, the last week or the last 30 days.
For those underperformers, more mouse clicks allow the users to dive into more stats to try to figure out the problem. In the case of the demo, the poor performer saw fuel economy deviate significantly from previous trips. A deeper dive found that vehicle speed, idle time, top gear time, and other factors were at play. A talk with the driver would definitely be called for – and because the data is real time, it makes that talk much more productive. The driver’s not trying to remember what he was doing several weeks ago, and the fleet has concrete data to share with the driver.
All this data can also be exported into driver-facing applications, built into scorecard mechanisms and incentive programs.
Atinasi noted that the system is designed with a great deal of flexibility. Every fleet will have different things they want to emphasize and different ways to integrate it into their fleet operations. A large fleet may want to be able to integrate the data into their own back-end IT operations. A small fleet owner may focus on using the mobile app to manage exception alerts.
One Fleet’s Story
Paper Transport Inc. is one of the fleets in the Detroit Connect Analytics pilot program, and Dan Deppeler, vice president of maintenance, shared some of his fleet’s experience so far. Right now about 70% of the fleet is Freightliner, “but as we look at trucks going forward, this becomes a much more important piece of the purchase decision,” he said. In his opinion, Detroit is ahead of the curve here compared to the other OEMs he works with.
For Paper Transport, he said, it all comes down to time, and to maximizing the use of drivers’ time so they can work efficiently, bring home a better paycheck, avoid downtime and get home more often.
“We don’t want drivers to have to worry about maintenance,” Deppeler said. “We want them to be out there driving the truck.” He cited a recent example where the system alerted the fleet that a driver was being notified by the truck to do a DPF regen, but the cycle wasn’t being completed. “We saw that in the fault codes and brought it in and found out there was sand in the air filter. It was an easy replacement and we prevented that driver from getting stuck out on the road.”
In addition, because Paper Transport is a very forward-looking fleet when it comes to fuel economy, Deppeler said, the analytics on fuel are very helpful. They've used the analytics to show drivers the relationship between vehicle speed and mpg. “A common discussion I have with drivers is they don’t believe higher speed really means that much fuel loss. Having some of that statistical data has been really helpful to convert a few of the drivers. And using real time statistical variance to track outliers, we don’t have to look at stale data that’s a month old and try to figure out what caused that poor performance.”
While Detroit Connect Analytics will initially be available on the new Freightliner Cascadia in October, plans are to roll out a version for the classic Cascadia, potentially by the end of the year.
In late 2017, additional features of Detroit Connect Remote Updates, such as fleet-initiated remote engine parameter programming and Detroit-initiated firmware updates, will be rolled out to new Cascadia customers. All Remote Updates are enabled by the new Detroit Connect platform, which is available exclusively for the new Cascadia.
DTNA isn’t stopping there. It will use customer feedback to continue to add features to Detroit Connect Analytics and improve its analytics functions, portal, and mobile app.
Atinasi told HDT that one of the projects she’ll be working on is bringing analytics to other types of fleets beyond on-highway, such as vocational. There isn’t currently much out there in the way of telematics and data analytics for many types of vocational fleets, so this is definitely an “area of opportunity,” she said. And with the launch of the DD5 and DD8 medium-duty Detroit engines, “it makes sense to focus on that market.”