Daimler Uses Telematics to Help Fleets Stay on the Road

July 28, 2017 by Carly Schaffner, @carlyschaffner

Daimler Trucks North America is giving fleets that use its Freightliner and Western Star trucks access to advanced connectivity services that will further tighten the relationship between trucking and technology.

Looking to evolve the concept of data analytics from a high-level discussion to an experience easily integrated into daily fleet operations, the company began piloting a program to develop actionable intelligence for its customers.

“It’s the role of the [manufacturer] to provide data the customer wants to measure,” said Lauren Attinasi, product strategy manager for Detroit Connect, a subscription-based telematics system offered on Daimler trucks.

“Through use of wire frames, Detroit Connect worked with a handful of active customers to provide feedback before taking the product into development,” Attinasi said.

Detroit Connect’s open platform sits behind a panel in the dash and does not interfere with the driver’s activity.

Detroit Connect’s open platform sits behind a panel in the dash and does not interfere with the driver’s activity. (Photo: Carly Schaffner/Trucks.com)

The objective was to create a tool that harnessed data that identified important information in a way that was easy to understand, she said.

The first iteration of the tool – Virtual Technician – launched in 2011.

Now the team is introducing its version 2.0 as part of a portal directly accessible to customers, with “no intent to stop evolving using [their] feedback,” Attinasi said.

The platform features high-level connectivity functions such as remote diagnostics that communicate trends regarding vehicle and driver performance as well as the overall health of the fleet. Managers are alerted via real-time updates whether a vehicle needs immediate attention or can finish its route. The system is designed so the driver goes undisrupted. Detroit Connect also flags issues that could lead to a more severe event.

Detroit Connect is also an open architecture platform, which allows fleets to integrate their proprietary telematics systems or other third-party programs that track information specific to their business.

Part of the new Detroit Connect system also includes detailed analysis called Detroit Diesel Engine Control, or DDEC, reports that can also be extracted over-the-air to track driver and vehicle performance. Fleets with the new Freightliner Cascadia will be able access the DDEC reports by the end of this summer.

“By making DDEC reports available through the Detroit Connect portal, we are eliminating the need for fleets to bring a vehicle into the shop and extract the reports,” Attinasi said. “The remote performance reports will benefit uptime as well as overall vehicle insights.”

“The ability to access data is becoming a more important piece of the purchase decision,” said Dan Deppeler, vice president of maintenance for Paper Transport Inc., which uses the Detroit Connect portal.

Freightliners make up about 70 percent of the Green Bay, Wisc., trucking company’s fleet.

Daimler’s 2018 Freightliner Cascadia.

Daimler’s 2018 Freightliner Cascadia. (Photo: Carly Schaffner/Trucks.com)

At first the Virtual Technician experience was like “boiling the ocean in terms of fault codes,” Deppeler said.

“But over the last 12 to 18 months the quality of description and action has really stepped up,” he said. “There are less false positives.”

“The tool allows fleets to get out in front of issues,” Deppeler said citing an example when the real-time alerts flagged an issue caused by sand in the air filter. “The driver didn’t even know about it.”

Deppeler also uses the data to track the fuel efficiency of his fleet, and entices his drivers to strive for top mpg by offering cash incentives.

It also provides good coaching opportunities.

“The drivers don’t believe that higher speed creates fuel loss, but statistical data can help the conversation,” Deppeler said.

Detroit Connect is still working on providing a streaming data analytics tool focused on fuel efficiency and fleet safety. Initial release features will be integrated through September for release this fall, and other featured like machine learning will eventually be added.

“Truck driving down the road has a digital clone somewhere with brains of our engineers,” said Jason Jason Krajewski, manager of the connectivity insight team for Detroit Connect.

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One Response

  1. Jacob litwiller

    I’m looking to find a truck that’s eco friendly that I can use to pull a camper. We are selling our house and want to live in a camper, i’d like to have a self sustaining power camper/truck. Do you know of a truck that could Handel the job.


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