Trucks are supposed to be there when you need them, hauling freight or getting a job done. Making money. It’s called uptime. In recent years, Mack Trucks has introduced an array of uptime maximizing services and technologies. Many build off the advanced telematics or “connected truck” technology designed into each Mack® truck now offered. Over-the-road fleets have been quick to adopt these technologies and reap the increased uptime.
But small, regional or vocational fleets sometimes assume that because their trucks come home frequently — in some cases every night — that uptime and con-nectivity are not concerns. The reality is that connected services can be even more important to small and vocational fleets who depend on the same benefits of uptime required by over-the-road fleets.“To send a truck out in a disconnected and nonconnected way makes absolutely no sense at all,” says Ken North, brand manager – Mack Trucks, Pacific Coast Heavy Truck Group, Langley, B.C. “This holds true whether you are a company that has dump trucks or cement mixers or whether you are going across country with perishable freight,” he adds.“The people who own the company and own the asset need to manage their assets and if you don’t have connected vehicles you can’t effectively manage your business,” he explains.
The true cost of downtime
Sure, it’s a known fact that when a truck is down, the truck owner is losing money. But the question is, can you put a price tag on downtime? Conal Deedy, director of connected vehicle services at Mack, says he’s heard figures that range from $900 a day to $3,000. But the reality is the cost can be much higher. North says it’s hard to quantify the cost of a downed truck because the circum-stances can vary widely. But, as an extreme example, the dealership has a number of customers who operate concrete pumpers. For a job on a skyscraper in down-town Vancouver, “There will be dozens of concrete mixers relying on them and crews of hundreds of people who are on site. If that truck goes down, the liability could be upward to $100,000.”Deedy explains that there can be huge penalties for a concrete transporter if it misses its delivery time and the contractor can’t get the job completed as scheduled.But the cost of downtime goes beyond monetary loss. Not only do you still have to pay the driver if the truck breaks down, but you risk alienating him or her. Given the driver shortage, you could lose that driver to a fleet that promises their equip-ment will operate as designed.And what about the damage to your reputation? How do you put a value on that? What if you can’t collect refuse on a hot summer day and everyone in the neighbor-hood is up in arms?“It is the brand of their business that is at risk,” North says. Your business could
earn a reputation of being unreliable and could miss out on business or lose business from existing customers.“Fleets that are embracing connected vehicles are enhancing the brand value of their business by delivering a better customer experi-ence. Beyond making those businesses operationally more effi cient, it is also providing a competitive advantage,” he adds.A common thread from small, regional or vocational fl eets is the fact that trucks come home every night and drivers will tell them about problems. If you are a fl eet manager, are you 100 percent confi dent that will happen 100 percent of the time? What happens if a warning light comes on and a driver fails to tell you about it? The next day you may fi nd yourself with a truck that can’t be sent to a job site.There is also the risk that a driver seeing a warning light will shut the truck down immediately fearing an imminent failure. Not all warning lights and fault codes are dire, and having a system that can separate out things that need immediate attention from those that don’t pays big dividends.
Enter GuardDog™ Connect & OneCall
GuardDog™ Connect was specifically designed to help truck owners maximize uptime. Coupled with OneCall, it connects a truck to a net-work of support staff and repair centers.“Drivers like to have a key tag with the 1-800-826-1177 number and to know that if something is happening on the truck in the middle of a concrete pour he can call the Mack OneCall Center,” North says. GuardDog Connect allows a diagnosis to happen remotely. “That is invaluable,” he adds. “Even though the truck may only be 20 to 30 miles away from a local dealer there still is a need for that.” In a non-connected truck the driver who is across town has to call the dealer and ask what do he should do. Without GuardDog Connect, the dealer may not have the information he needs to make the right deci-sion. To be on the safe side, he’ll often advise the driver to needlessly bring the truck in.Bob Nuss, president of Nuss Truck & Equipment, was speaking with a ready mix customer with multiple plants. “They know what is going on with their drivers but they are more concerned about the load of concrete because it is a perishable commodity,” he says. “They have about 30 to 45 minutes to get it off the truck, which is the most pressing con-cern. But they also like to be informed about the condition of their trucks.”Zach Hoffman, technical customer support & training manager at Nuss Truck & Equipment’s Roseville, Minnesota’s operation recalls a fleet customer that was managing trucks on multiple job sites. He said they received notices at their shops that a unit had a check engine light on. GuardDog Connect helped them identify the severity of the fault. A part was then sent to the job site for a quick repair. The truck never had to go to the shop and the part was quickly located and brought to the truck. The vehicle continued to operate without missing a beat.Mack provides 24/7 support from the call center, Deedy says. “That is a huge benefit to all customers because it gives them a sense of security that we will work on their behalf. And GuardDog comes standard on trucks at no charge to the customer for two years.”Whether a truck is on the road or at a job site, GuardDog Connect detects problems before the driver notices anything is wrong. If the problem is severe, it contacts Mack’s OneCall customer center. “The Uptime Center notes the logged faults and notifies the registered owners through ASIST (a case management system) and contacts the dealer,” Nuss explains. “That is what you need it for, no matter what size you are.” Expert technicians look at fault codes and evaluate their severity. They can make a determination if the truck can continue operating or if it needs to come in immediately for service.They pinpoint the exact problem and identify the repairs needed. “We get the information into the hands of the decision makers so they can take appropriate action as quickly as possible,” Deedy says.Regardless of how severe the problem is a service appointment can be scheduled so when the driver gets the truck to the dealership the technician can begin working on it immediately because he will be armed with all the information he needs, including parts needed, service instructions and diagnostic information. If the fleet prefers to make the repairs at its own shop, it gets all the same information so they too can save time during the repair. Nuss notes many of his dealership’s municipal custom-ers do not rely on outside service providers. “But GuardDog is a great tool for them to use for maintenance reminders.”
Certified Uptime Centers
Mack has designated some of its dealerships as Certified Uptime Centers. Those dealerships have adopted standards and service processes and have updated their shop layout with service bays set aside specifically for repairs that won’t take a long time to complete.In the past, their trucks were seen on a first in first out basis. A truck that could be repaired in two hours may have been behind one that needed an eight-hour repair. Or longer. “Certified Uptime Centers have a special lane for quick repairs and by using the information from GuardDog Connect we can address those issues quickly and we can speed those trucks through the repair pro-cess,” Deedy says.
Finding the right solution
North discovered that connected service offerings are not a one-size-fi ts-all solution. “We work hard to understand what those dif-ferent services are, how they work and what are the unique features of each one so we can determine where they fi t and where don’t they fi t the customer,” he says. The goal is to cus-tomize the tools to fi t the operation.
Looking to the future
Deedy thinks trucks and components are going to continue to get more complex. “Having the connectivity and information at your fi ngertips can only help make things better. GuardDog Connect is Mack’s commitment to leverage information and technology,” he says.“We are doing things now and will continue to do them in the future with connectivity and technology to ensure that the truck has maxi-mum uptime. We are focused on our custom-er’s truck so they can focus on their jobs. We want to help support the uptime of that truck better than anyone else in the industry. We have the tools today. They are best in class and we continue to develop them. They defi -nitely can help a vocational customer with their uptime,” he says.Deedy says the recent announcement of Mack Over the Air is the latest example of how Mack continues to develop new uptime capabilities to support our cus-tomers’ businesses. Mack OTA uses GuardDog Connect to deliver soft-ware updates for powertrain components and vehicle parameters directly to customers with minimal interruption to their operations. “Being preplanned is always better than unplanned. Mack continues to build on its connectivity platform to add more functionality to the base and add more services. It is an exciting time but it is time for cus-tomers to embrace it because it really has shown great results.”