You are out in the middle of the gritty Texas oilfields, the nearest maintenance shop is four hours of rough terrain away and your operators are so urgently focused on running cable down a fracking hole, they don’t notice the truck’s engine warning light come on. By the time you get a frantic message from an operator saying, “uh, we think something is wrong,” it’s too late. Not only does your operation shut down, but all the other companies involved in the drilling operation have to shut down, too. It’s a frustrating and costly situation. That scenario played out more than once for Glen Moore, maintenance director at CDK Perforating in Houston, Texas, before he discovered telematics, a technology he calls a game changer for his wireline service company. With Mack’s GuardDog Connect telematics solution, he can remotely diagnose a mechanical problem and determine the solution before a breakdown occurs. “Instead of hollering at a trucker to read me the error code, I know what’s going on with the truck before the operator does. I love that!” As Moore discovered, there’s a lot to love about today’s telematics. The early days of using technology to route and locate trucks seem almost quaint compared with the high-tech innovations possible in today’s trucking world. From real-time diagnostics to fuel economy monitoring to driver safety alerts, today’s telematics give fleets almost total transparency into each vehicle’s operation, a fact that can pay big dividends to the bottom line in terms of productivity and profitability. No surprise, then, that fleet awareness about the value of telematics has exploded. “Fleets now are beginning to understand telematics in terms of total connected vehicle services, the importance of monitoring and the vehicle data they can get that allows them to better manage their assets,” says David Pardue, vice president of business development for Mack Trucks. He compares fleet’s awareness of the importance of telematics to a hockey stick curve where the initial slow period suddenly takes a sharp upturn. Trucking is not an industry that jumps on trends, says Sandeep Kar, global director – commercial vehicle research for Frost & Sullivan. But it’s a different story when a technology is proven to reduce a fleet’s operating expense. “Telematics adoption has been steadily increasing since I first started tracking it in 2006,” he says. In fact, a recent forecast from Frost & Sullivan predicts that by 2018, 36 percent of heavy-duty trucks in the U.S. and Canada will have telematics hardware installed and will access telematics on a monthly subscription basis. Mack’s telematics strategy recognizes this trend and expands on it. According to Pardue, Mack partners with key telematics solutions providers, who use the real-time vehicle data provided through Mack® GuardDog® Connect to provide fleets with information to improve productivity, safety and profitability. “This is far more than simply monitoring engine parameters,” Pardue says. Kar points to the many ways telematics deliver value to fleet managers, from fuel cost reductions to driver cost reductions, from equipment cost reductions to efficiency improvements, and from back office automation to location-based tracking. It’s no surprise, Kar says, that 90 percent of fleets who start using telematics continue, according to a Frost & Sullivan study. “People renewed the contracts because they derived such high value from the service.” He believes trucking will continue to see growth in the use of telematics devices and telematics-enabled technology. “The technologies that enable telematics, such as cellular networks, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications and Wi-Fi are developing at a fast pace.” This means the cost of communication is coming down so the cost of telematics services is becoming more affordable. “Fleets are realizing the benefits [of telematics] and in an era of the driver shortage and resource constraints, telematics comes as a major savior for fleets.” Pardue says one of the key drivers behind the growth in telematics is the disruption caused by the Federal government’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability regulations. “Potential CSA violations can be avoided by proactively knowing how the vehicle is operating and taking care of the issues before you hit the road. I think this is going to continue to be true because it affects both the driver and the fleet.” Kar calls this proactive approach mobile resource management, and says that the diagnostic and even prognostic ability telematics provides is causing smart fleet owners to turn to telematics to give them a competitive advantage. Real-time data It used to be the only way to diagnose a truck was to plug the vehicle into a PC-based tool and download the data. While that is still common practice, now, “it’s all about real-time data vs. waiting for the end of the month to know what’s going on with your fleet,” Pardue says. “With all the latest advances in telematics, you are able to get rich data in real time and analyze potential problems well in advance of the normal analysis curve.” Michael Riemer, vice president of products and channel marketing for Decisiv, a software solution for service relationship management, says fleets are using the fault codes from the various systems and components on trucks, dry vans and reefers to obtain valuable information about their status. But having the data is only the beginning. The true power comes in how you leverage it. “At the moment, what kind of data do we get from telematics?” Kar asks. “We know where the vehicle is. We know whether the vehicle is being driven safely. We know if the vehicle is regulation compliant. We know if the vehicle has any problems. There are so many different data points coming into the fleet manager that it can almost be too much information.” Enter Mack® GuardDog® Connect, a tool that helps fleets manage the flow of data, using telematics to monitor a range of engine and after-treatment fault codes and ranks them into two categories. “Red codes we know will cause the vehicle to derate (lose engine power) in three hours or less,” Pardue explains. “Yellow codes require attention as well, but the truck doesn’t need immediate repair. The driver can continue to deliver the load and then get the vehicle repaired.” A red code is automatically transferred to Mack’s OneCall® team in the Uptime Center in Greensboro, North Carolina, where an event case is opened in ASIST, Mack’s service management platform. “The fault codes have been pre-diagnosed so we know both the correct repair instructions, as well as parts required,” Pardue says. “Using our geofence technology we can determine where the closest dealer location is so the truck can be serviced as quickly as possible.” Riemer explains that GuardDog Connect fully leverages telematics (especially ECM fault codes) into a closed loop involving the fleet, the dealer and Mack’s Uptime Center to drive more uptime, reduce service events and lessen shop dwell time. Fleets can customize the way they handle the communication process. They decide who the point of contact is and if they prefer contact via phone or email. They can even have multiple points of contact based on regions of the country or other factors. “We recognize that there is a lot of data for customers to wade through,” Pardue says. “We communicate to the customer specifically the information they need to know and recommendations on what they should do. Our goal is to equip them with key information to drive decisions and to help them stay informed on what’s going on with a piece of equipment.” Tom Tenseth, Mack truck sales representative at Bruckner Truck Sales, Fort Worth, Texas, says that GuardDog Connect is the “best differentiator soft product our team has to sell.” In fact, he believes GuardDog Connect helped him earn the business of propane hauler JP Liquids, which operates out of remote locations and was concerned about the ability to have service and uptime when operating units in its yards outside of Bruckner’s area. Tenseth says he was able to demonstrate to JP Liquids maintenance director Mack’s commitment to keep a watchful eye on their fleet. With GuardDog Connect “they feel like they’re wrapped in a blanket,” he says. GuardDog Connect gives Bruckner customers peace of mind that if they have a problem on the road, it will be taken care of quickly and efficiently. Tenseth says two customers — CDK Perforating, an oilfield wire line company, and Cisco Trucking, a sand hauler — had active fault codes and “ran through the system with positive results. It provides accountability and it speeds up the repair process. These guys aren’t making money if they’re sitting in our shop.” Mike Laughead, service manager at TranSource, Mack’s dealership in the Greensboro area, says when his customers first heard about GuardDog Connect they were skeptical. “They thought it was some kind of fantasy that problems could be diagnosed before they resulted in a failure.” But once they actually got an alert, they were impressed, so much so that two customers have asked Laughead about retrofitting older trucks with GuardDog Connect. A real benefit of GuardDog Connect is that it gives fleets more options about how they serve their customers. “When they know in advance about a problem they can swap out the truck to make sure they make their delivery windows. In some cases since these types of repairs tend to take less time, they can even make the delivery with the same truck,” Laughead says. Mike McMahon, CEO, Mack of Charlotte, sees GuardDog Connect as groundbreaking. “When looking at telematics I always felt there was a piece missing. GuardDog Connect completes the puzzle. It not only identifies problems, but also helps schedule repairs. If a truck that operates out of Texas experiences a failure while driving through North Carolina, we get it sent to us prediagnosed along with repair instructions before it arrives at our door.” As a truck dealer, one of McMahon’s biggest challenges is diagnostic time. “The diagnostics are more difficult today. When a truck comes in, if you already have the diagnosis, it’s a home run for the customer, the dealers and the brand. It’s a one-two punch. You cut diagnostic time and more efficiently handle shop loading by putting the right person on the job.” Laughead agrees and says, “When we know what parts we need and what the repair procedure is before the truck even gets here, our shop can be more efficient.” In fact, because problems are diagnosed before a catastrophic failure, repair times are shorter which allows Laughead to schedule more customer repairs into his shop. He adds that although his technicians doubted how the process would work, when they got notification of a problem and the suggested repairs, they had to admit it was exactly what they would have done. The value of the telematics data doesn’t end with managing fault codes and repair. Pardue says having the data allows the truck maker to see trends in component performance and advise fleets about planning maintenance before a component fails on the road. While telematics has changed the service landscape, trucking likely has not seen the end of its value. “Everyone talks about fuel economy and saving one-tenth of a gallon,” McMahon says, “but think of the impact if you could save a fleet minutes, hours or days during a service event. That’s a true productivity gain and it’s going to be the next frontier.” Kar sees even more changes ahead for telematics. “It’s going to be about connecting the vehicle to the infrastructure and the world outside in a way that will enable automated driving, higher fuel efficiency, higher driver efficiency and even higher freight efficiency.” Kar says shippers will continue to demand supply chain visibility and it’s not unlikely that insurance companies will chime in with their own expectations and demands. It will be even easier to track mobile resources, to get the most out of them and to reduce downtime, Kar says. “All of this will be done at the lowest incremental cost; that’s where the future lies with telematics.” For CDK Perforating’s Moore, the future is now. “The idea that I can know about a mechanical problem before the operator does is amazing. I can’t imagine how anyone manages without this kind of technology on hand.”
Most Recent Articles
Why Oil Quality Matters
Learn how using Mack EOS-4.5 engine oil can extend your drain intervals and decrease downtime for your fleet at MackTrucks.com/AftermarketAdvisor.
J.L. Storedahl and Sons crushes it with Mack
The old saying "If you want something done right, do it yourself" applies in spades to J.L. Storedahl and Sons. The Kelso, Washington-based company hauls aggregates and stone used for road...
Long-term success in a competitive field like drayage requires adaptability and a willingness to explore new technologies and practices. At Seattle-based Graham Trucking, success meant upgrading...
3 Reasons to Practice Suspension PM
The suspension systems on today’s trucks are lighter — and tougher — than ever before. And that’s good news for fleet owners and the industry in terms of reduced fuel use and longer maintenance...
How to Weather Winter Accidents
Here’s a statistic that may surprise you: on average, weather-related delays cost trucking companies between $2.2 billion and $3.5 billion annually, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
For Less Downtime Choose Mack XLC
Your vehicles can take a beating in the winter thanks to de-icing agents, snow piles and potholes. And while many winter hazards are unavoidable, there’s one move you can make right now to protect...
Waste Masters Solutions teams with Mack Trucks for uptime and profitability
Waste Masters Solutions is a regional commercial and recycling operation that has grown by being focused on service and performance in the Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Mack's Clear Advantage for Glass Hauler
Dan Moore is an innovator as well as a businessman, so when his glass transporting fleet — one of only a few such specialized haulers in the U.S. — ran into a problem, he wasted no time figuring...
Built for your business
While customers love the look of Anthem, it's the truck's new features that will drive your business forward.
The Power of a Mack
Engineered for efficiency and performance, our integrated powertrain is the toughest in the game. Bar none.
Read what customers, dealers and employees had to say when they first met the Anthem.
Boldly aerodynamic, classic Mack. Learn more about Anthem's exterior features.
Naming the Anthem
The inspiration behind the name of a legend.
Launching a Legend
How the Mack Anthem came to be
Help is One Call Away
Customer support specialists at Mack’s Uptime Center help keep trucks on the road and give customers peace of mind.
Mack Trucks increases customer options with two new versions of the mDRIVE™ HD transmission and a single-unit exhaust aftertreatment system.
One of the most important differences between a Mack® truck and other makes is the level of control that Mack has over its design and engineering as an integrated manufacturer.
Top Concerns: 8 Things Keeping Fleet Owners Up at Night
Fleet owners are busy trying to run their businesses and often spend their days putting out fires and focusing on the day-to-day details of operating a trucking company.
How to recruit the next generation.
The Mack Fuel Economy Tool