The fact is this: The industry has gotten a lot better at keeping trucks on the road and out of the shop. Even though the learning curve has been a steep one, fleets have been doing a far better job than they were even five to ten years ago.
One of the biggest problems has been the difficulty in making sense of confusing messages and misleading information. Once the diesel fuel particulate filter appeared, fleets countrywide have been doing their best to diagnose specific issues and make necessary repairs.
As new generations of vehicles and engines hit the market, new fault codes, alerts and specific troubleshooting methods muddied up the picture for many a fleet technician. But how bad was it?
A Sea of Codes
Go back to pre-EPA-07 and you’ll find anywhere from 200 to 300 codes emanating from a specific electronic control module. Today? A comparable engine meeting 2014 greenhouse standards might have over a dozen different controller modules, which each one producing hundreds of different codes. The result? Thousands of fault codes to wade through.
Still, the picture is changing. Manufacturers have gotten a lot better at scaling back the information they present and how they present it. Once upon a time a truck driver would dread turning on the dashboard light, for fear it would simply add to the misery of trying to figure out what’s going on.
In turn, the shop would be in a quandary trying to figure out if they should have the truck driver stop or not. So, what was the eventual solutions?
Solving a Code Problem
As advanced telematics and truck-to-terminal communication methods have become more commonplace within the industry, it’s easier for truck drivers to sort through codes and message truck drivers about specific problems.
So even though fleets are creating more data, they are getting far better at analyzing and acting on the data. Even fleets with thousands of vehicles and multiple service locations are better able to centralize the data and act on specific problems unlike ever before.
New challenges include figuring out how to quickly address repeat problems and make it easier for a fleet technician to pull up an internal database and find a solution.
While before a technician might pull up a YouTube video, today fleets can create their own library of diagnostics and repair videos. Distributing these videos across the network makes it far easier to individual technicians to address problems in real-time.
Using Technology the Right Way
One way in which technicians are helping to increase truck uptime is through the use of tablets. Before advanced technological solutions, technicians would have to wander around the shop to find answers to specific problems.
Today, when all the information can be provided conveniently on a tablet, technicians no longer have to walk back and forth just to find an answer to a problem. Troubleshooting trees, code answers and wiring diagrams can be easily accessed and fault code data analyzed on the fly.
From tablets to in-house videos and databases with relevant information, fleets have far more tools at their disposal than they used to.
By utilizing these tools and this vast amount of data, fleets can prevent problems before they crop up, and act much faster when specific issues arise. From making sense of data to weeding through the fault codes, keeping functional trucks on the road has never been easier.
As technology moves forward, motor carriers learn the hard lessons of yesterday and apply today’s solutions to tomorrow. An extra hour spent working through an issue can keep your vehicle on the road for some time to come.