Maintaining work trucks used to mainly require a solid set of handheld tools, elbow grease, and mechanical know-how. Today, whether you like it or not, technology has seeped into just about all parts of daily life – and truck maintenance is no different.
And, while it can add challenges, training needs, and more than a set of socket wrenches to get the work done, the benefits technology provides for vehicle insights, increased safety, reduced accidents, and overall increased uptime can’t be ignored.
“From enhanced safety to better comfort and workflow, technology continues to shape what it means to be a trucker and a transportation company in today’s world,” said Shay Misra, product marketer at Fleetio.
Work Truck wanted to know today’s top maintenance technology trends. Check out what we discovered:
Cameras & Routing for Maintenance
While some fleet drivers are still wary of “Big Brother” watching them, many see the benefits of cameras in accident refutes, and fleets see the benefits in safer driver populations.
“Several of our delivery fleet partners use advanced telematics with forward and driver cameras to identify when a driver is speeding and if they are on their phone, not wearing their seatbelt, etc. Some of our more advanced partners give us visibility into their fleet vehicle locations, routes, mileage, and maintenance needs. This gives us the ability to optimize our mobile fleet service routes, creating efficiencies for the fleet managers and helping prevent grounded vehicles,” said Scot Wingo, CEO and co-founder of Spiffy.
Immediate Diagnosis & Digital Troubleshooting
The faster a fleet can diagnose a problem or issue, the quicker it can be resolved and the less time a vehicle is down and off the road.
“There is a lot of technology designed to assist technicians, manufacturers, and suppliers make faster and better decisions about inventory, diagnostics, repairs, and general maintenance. In some cases, certain technologies allow for the diagnosis of an issue and a recommended solution or repair before the technician arrives onsite, enabling the tech to arrive to perform the repair with all proper parts and tooling. These advancements in repair and troubleshooting continue to impact our industry and our way of operating for the better,” said Dan Williams, CEO of Amerit Fleet Solutions.
Predictive Maintenance for Uptime
Beyond quicker diagnostics, predicting issues before they happen helps fleets reduce vehicle and fleet downtime.
“We’ve seen unprecedented demand for predictive maintenance technology in response to the industry’s challenges. Technology is a major competitive differentiator for fleets,” said Norm Thomas, fleet business consultant at Uptake. “Keeping pace with digital transformation will ultimately level the playing field on vehicle efficiency, roadside breakdowns, and overall fleet performance.”
Thomas said to think of it like this:
“Fleet A has the tech to notify them when a part needs to be replaced well in advance. Shipping delays aren’t as big of a concern because their strategy is proactive rather than reactive, and fleet managers can schedule the replacement on the same day as a routine maintenance check. The part comes, they bring the truck in for maintenance, and it’s back on the road within a day,” he said. “Fleet B doesn’t have the tech. They don’t realize the part is failing, and now they unexpectedly have an inoperable truck sitting in the shop until the part comes,” Thomas explained.
Telematics Tracking Real-Time Performance
Tracking vehicles has well-known benefits but tracking trailers and equipment also helps reduce theft and related time and expense.
“Trailer tracking systems allow drivers to track the whereabouts of all their trailers at any given time, whether on the road or parked at a depot. This improves safety by eliminating potential accidents caused by driver error or theft. In addition, it allows fleets to reduce fuel and maintenance expenses associated with traditional diesel engines,” said Shay Misra, product marketer at Fleetio.
Additionally, telematics has quickly become an essential part of the trucking industry, and its impact will only increase.
“Telematics technology allows businesses to track the location and performance of their fleet vehicles in real-time. This data can be used for various purposes, including safety monitoring, route optimization, communication enhancement, fuel management (including anticipating where shortages may occur), driver fatigue detection/prevention, fraud prevention and detection, asset tracking (e.g., reducing theft), and more. Fleet management software companies like Fleetio use telematics partners to help keep tabs on a fleet's maintenance lifecycle,” Misra added.
The Overall Growth in Data for Work Truck Maintenance
While many of us pine for the days when a wrench and duct tape would solve all of our truck maintenance woes, today, technology is a constant presence in fleet.
Fleets looking to adopt proven technologies into their vocational fleet operations are already seeing the benefits. And the momentum is only increasing.
“Technology is growing in truck maintenance, which is a good thing. With data tracking, we have more ability to know what’s happening with a fleet in a few keystrokes than you could get with a week-long manual audit a few years ago,” said Brett Klynn, director of fleet division & strategic business development at Wrench.
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