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Digital Connectivity Speeds Decision Making and Service, Improving Uptime

Posted by Jeremy Mikell on March 17, 2021 - 8:21 AM
Technology with Telematic devices and GPS

Digital Connectivity Speeds Decision Making and Service, Improving Uptime

Today’s vehicles are broadcasting more data than ever before. Telematics devices, engines, reefer units and even tires are among the many data sources on a piece of equipment.

Connecting those various data points allows fleets and service providers to turn that stream of data into useful information that improves downtime and increases efficiency during roadside and scheduled maintenance events.

“As the trucks get more advanced, the computers on the vehicle are becoming just as feature-rich as the computers on our desk,” said Bryan Johnson, Executive Vice President of IT at FleetNet America®.

What’s more, the past year has accelerated digital and electronic investments among fleets and vendors.

“There are a lot of connectivity points and technologies to get up and running faster, to drive costs down and to be more efficient overall,” said Paul Gildenhorn, Vice President of Sales for FleetNet America. “More and more customers are looking at technology to help them solve a problem.”

One of FleetNet’s key initiatives is to be more electronically connected with its customers and vendors, which it is doing through software integration and mobile apps that maximize data.

“Just being able to be connected with telematics devices can provide us an enormous amount of information that helps us identify the root issue and get the right vendor dispatched to work on the unit. We know where it is by GPS. We have fault codes coming in. We know which ones are critical so we can proactively schedule a vendor to take care of a unit, and we know which can wait until the next scheduled maintenance event,” Gildenhorn said. 

For one customer, FleetNet monitors 13 critical codes. “When it pops up, it allows us to react to that code. We’ve been able to save several engines by letting the company know there is a critical engine code, and they need to stop the truck,” Gildenhorn said.

Other codes and information are monitored and addressed through a triage process, which identifies the best time to service the equipment. “If an alert indicates that a cylinder has misfired, it doesn't mean we need to automatically dispatch a technician. We may already be working on it for related repairs or it could be in a shop, so we want that triage to happen to determine if we need to send a vendor out or if it was a false positive,” Johnson said.

For another customer, FleetNet monitors reefer units, including the various temperature zones within a reefer. “We're able to tell what the temperature is, and if it is falling outside of the temperature range the customer provided, there is a different protocol to help them make decisions on what to do with the product in that trailer,” Gildenhorn said. 

Telematics devices typically have various features, and some fleets underutilize what they already own, which means they’re not taking advantage of all of the available information. “We're talking with customers about what they have, the level of agreement or feature set they bought, and how can we take that information and make it useful,” Johnson said. “We can come in and help them interpret that data, fault codes and even location data for breakdowns.”

FleetNet can integrate with its customers’ maintenance software to share event information with their system. “It allows them to cut keystrokes and get accurate data quickly,” Johnson said.

Increased connectivity can also benefit drivers. To improve downtime, drivers can utilize a mobile app that allows them within two minutes or less to submit an event, which goes into the FleetNet system.

“Without waiting on hold, they can submit and check in on their events,” Johnson said, adding that FleetNet recognizes different people like to communicate in different ways. “For some of our customers, we're rolling out an omnichannel approach: you can call, and we'll connect you with a live person, you can talk to a virtual agent, or we can send you a link to your phone you can fill out, whichever method works best for that caller.”

For vendors, digitally connecting with FleetNet can help them receive assignments faster and speed service events by having information readily available. It can also help create invoices, upload documents, and receive POs to expedite payment and prevent the need to re-enter information.

Plus, some trucking companies and service partners, such as in light-duty spaces, increasingly require their vendors to be connected. “That digital effort has made it into a lot of shops and heavy-duty vendors,” Johnson said, adding that there are multiple connectivity options available.

FleetNet can work with vendors to put a system in place at a minimal charge to the provider. “It helps them get electronically connected and communicate through a mobile- or web-based applications,” Johnson said. “We focus on tools that are very easy to use that meet the requirements of the small and medium-sized vendors so they can get connected with a low cost barrier,” Johnson said.

For those vendors that already have either connected or connectable software, FleetNet has a hub it can use to communicate with their systems at no cost. “The more we can communicate with the vendors electronically, the faster we can get them information on the breakdown and the faster we can get the driver up and running. We can also feed information to the company so they can make decisions about the load and the driver faster,” Gildenhorn said.

FleetNet America®

Could you benefit from improved uptime and more efficient service events? FleetNet America has a plan that will fit all of your needs. For more information, call 877-559-9640.