Data holds the key

CV mak­ers are tap­ping data to ad­dress the ex­act­ing needs of their cus­tomers.

Commercial Vehicle - - CONTENTS - Story by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

CV mak­ers are tap­ping data to ad­dress the ex­act­ing needs of their cus­tomers.

Kar­tar Singh pulls his truck into a lay-by and di­als the call cen­tre for help. His truck is seem­ing to lose power. It is ac­com­pa­nied by an ab­nor­mal noise em­a­nat­ing from the en­gine com­part­ment. Since it is a BSVI truck, he is not at all keen to show it to a road side me­chanic. The per­son at the other end of the line ad­vises Singh to drive the truck slowly, al­beit in the limp mode to the near­est ser­vice sta­tion, which is luck­ily some 20 kms away. For Singh, who has been driv­ing trucks for the last 15 years, it is dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence. To call the com­pany helpline for sup­port is part of a process of rein­vent­ing him­self. It is the same for Singh when it comes to top­ping up the AdBlue tank of his BSIV 37-tonne truck. At the other end, the abil­ity to con­nect with clients 24x7 is driv­ing a change in how CV mak­ers op­er­ate. Amid an en­vi­ron­ment where truck­ers are fa­mil­iaris­ing them­selves with the use of new tech­nolo­gies like dif­fer­ent driv­ing modes, AMT and oth­ers, it is ac­tiv­i­ties like pre­dic­tive main­te­nance that are prov­ing to be a cru­cial link in stay­ing loyal to a brand.

In an ef­fort to re­tain as well as at­tract cus­tomers, Daim­ler In­dia Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles (DICV) is us­ing ser­vice as a tool to stand out. It just com­mis­sioned a main­te­nance fa­cil­ity at Dharuhera, Haryana, to fa­cil­i­tate quick turn­around. It has also in­vested in a call cen­tre that of­fers round the clock as­sis­tance to buy­ers in eight re­gional lan­guages. It has put a team in place, which prom­ises to re­solve and fix tech­ni­cal as well as other glitches within 24 hours of the is­sue be­ing re­ported. Pro­vid­ing buy­ers a prom­ise to reach out to them in any part of the coun­try within four hours of

re­port­ing a break­down is prov­ing to be a pop­u­lar value ad­di­tion. To back up the prom­ise, the com­pany has fit­ted all ve­hi­cles with car­rier di­ag­nos­tics fa­cil­ity. It records a num­ber of pa­ram­e­ters re­lated to on-road per­for­mance of trucks. Ev­ery minute data in­clud­ing speed and fre­quency is recorded. Even the amount of time the driver ap­plies brakes is recorded elec­tron­i­cally. The data is scanned to pro­vide con­sis­tent and real-time his­tory of each ve­hi­cle out on the road. The data is help­ing DICV en­gi­neers to iden­tify and pre­dict wear and tear. They are also able to look at any other ve­hi­cle-re­lated is­sues that own­ers in the usual course of op­er­a­tion are likely to miss.

The ar­rival of BSIV CVs is key to their man­u­fac­tur­ers’ abil­ity to pre­dict no doubt, the suc­cess of its func­tion is in the use of new age techs like IoT and AI. The ten­dency to in­creas­ingly tap into ve­hi­cle data, and to an­a­lyse it is in­creas­ing. It is not only help­ing to pro­vide bet­ter ser­vice, but also to build bet­ter prod­ucts. Bet­ter CVs in this case. At the root of the CV mak­ers’ abil­ity to col­lect data, an­a­lyse it, and make the nec­es­sary use of it, are fac­tors like reg­u­la­tions and chang­ing mar­ket re­quire­ments. The scene at ei­ther end has not been docile, what with the an­nounce­ment of new axle norms and the shift to higher ton­nage among oth­ers. With the race on to meet BSVI emis­sion norms, it does not come as a sur­prise that OEMs are dig­ging into data and analysing it. What the data is throw­ing up, they may not be keen to speak about, what they are do­ing is to ex­plore it with the view of el­e­vat­ing their busi­ness prospects, stay ahead of the curve, and to keep in­tro­duc­ing prod­ucts that are rel­e­vant. In the face of reg­u­la­tions like BSVI, the ex­ist­ing prod­uct port­fo­lio at most CV mak­ers is cer­tain to un­dergo an amount of ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion. The move up to BSVI is not as easy at it seems. The new axle norms reg­u­la­tion has come at a cost if the in­dus­try sources are to be be­lieved. Sources claim that it has ac­cel­er­ated tear and wear, and in­creased var­i­ous as­so­ci­ated costs. The move to BSVI is ex­pected to have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact. Ca­pa­ble of tak­ing in bad air and emit­ting good air, BSVI tech­nol­ogy is also ex­pected to in­crease the need for pre­dic­tive main­te­nance.

As digi­ti­sa­tion in the CV in­dus­try ac­cel­er­ates, the need to deal with new-age tech­nolo­gies will fur­ther in­crease. The an­nounce­ment by ZF to look at blockchain even as it ex­cels in au­to­mo­tive techs like new-age trans­mis­sions, axles, etc., adds a new di­men­sion to how pre­dic­tive main­te­nance will hold a key. The other ex­am­ple is of SKF mount­ing sen­sors on bear­ings that pre­dict tear and wear, and the need for their pre­dic­tive main­te­nance.

To tap into the ris­ing world of pre­dic­tive main­te­nance and bet­ter ser­vice, Ashok Ley­land, last year, un­veiled four dig­i­tal plat­forms. These prom­ise the CV ma­jor to earn a big­ger pie of the Rs.2.4 crores a trucker spents through out its life­cy­cle. At the mo­ment, the com­pany, ac­cord­ing to sources, earns only Rs.20 lakh it takes on an av­er­age to buy a truck. Bank­ing on the rapid growth of smart phones, the com­pany, through the four ini­tia­tives – i-Alert, Ser­viceMandi, e-di­ag­nos­tics and Leykart, is lev­er­ag­ing help of IoT and AI. It is en­sur­ing that truck op­er­a­tors stand to gain from an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence su­pe­rior qual­ity prod­uct and build a more prof­itable busi­ness model around it.

Driver­less trucks may be a long way away, IoT and AI are al­ready lead­ing the CV in­dus­try to eval­u­ate new techs like driver as­sist. Such techs could have an in­flu­ence on not just the per­for­mance or safety, but also on pre­dic­tive

main­te­nance and ser­vice sup­port. An un­der­stand­ing of how it could work is had from Ashok Ley­land’s de­vel­op­ment of four ini­tia­tives. They were de­vel­oped with an eye on a typ­i­cal global af­ter­mar­ket rev­enue bench­mark of 25 per cent. The dig­i­tal ini­tia­tives have been in­te­grated with the com­pany’s SAP ar­chi­tec­ture, which the CV maker uses to carry out its var­i­ous func­tions, in­clud­ing the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and list­ing of parts, and more. The link­age with SAP ar­chi­tec­ture helped the com­pany to price the parts that it of­fers on the Leykart plat­form. To en­sure that they could be de­liv­ered to the door step of the cus­tomer, and to con­nect 20,000 me­chan­ics to the other, Ser­vice Mandi ini­tia­tive, Ashok Ley­land in­vested in IoT a good deal. With the af­ter­mar­ket rev­enue bench­mark in In­dia at a low five per cent com­pared to the 25 per cent bench­mark in the global mar­kets, ac­cord­ing to Vinod K. Dasari, MD & CEO, Ashok Ley­land, the dig­i­tal ini­tia­tives sig­nal a sig­nif­i­cant rev­enue growth po­ten­tial.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing the im­por­tance of pre­dic­tive main­te­nance, Mahin­dra Truck and Bus took the route of of­fer­ing guar­an­tees. Util­is­ing the ingress of elec­tron­ics on board its trucks to col­lect data and an­a­lyse it with the view of build­ing bet­ter prod­ucts and pro­vide a su­pe­rior ser­vice-sup­port ex­pe­ri­ence, the CV maker is claimed to lever­age telem­at­ics and IoT to pro­vide the best that a cus­tomer could have.

It is guar­an­tee­ing cus­tomers of a time-bound break­down sup­port, re­pairs and spares. Driv­ing the Blazo day and night for around two-lakh kilo­me­ters to en­sure cor­rect cal­i­bra­tion, and to suc­cess­fully in­cor­po­rate mul­ti­ple drive modes to en­sure classlead­ing ef­fi­ciency, the CV maker is ex­ploit­ing IoT and AI. On the count of spares, the com­pany has been driv­ing the Mparts Plaza ini­tia­tive, which cov­ers 1500 km cor­ri­dor pass­ing through five states – Ma­ha­rash­tra, Gu­jarat, Ra­jasthan, Haryana, and Delhi-NCR, with end ter­mi­nals at Dadri in the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion of Delhi and Jawa­har­lal Nehru Port at Uran near Mum­bai. It has strate­gi­cally lo­cated out­lets that stock 150 fast mov­ing spares iden­ti­fied as es­sen­tial main­te­nance parts. If a part is not avail­able, Mahin­dra Truck and Bus pro­vides an as­sur­ance of sup­ply­ing it free of cost to the trucker. The CV ma­jor is also of­fer­ing an ini­tia­tive to com­pen­sate truck­ers with Rs.1000 per day if the truck does not get back on the road in 48 hours.

While schemes to com­pen­sate

the fleet op­er­a­tor for down­time are prac­tisced by most CV mak­ers, the Mparts Plaza makes a dis­tinct ini­tia­tive of serv­ing the cus­tomers. Men­tioned an in­dus­try ex­pert that di­ag­nos­tic tools and avail­abil­ity of spares is be­com­ing im­por­tant in the wake the chang­ing CV ecosys­tem. Stress­ing upon the changes ef­fected by GST, which is sup­port­ing bor­der­less travel be­tween states, he said that the re­quire­ments of fleets are chang­ing dras­ti­cally. Con­trary to the be­lief, he ex­plained, fleets are lev­er­ag­ing IoT and AI to for­ward their busi­ness in­ter­ests through trucks that are smart, com­pa­nies that could of­fer smart sup­port, and al­lied ser­vice providers who could of­fer value ad­di­tions like smart fuel cards and more. Re­quire­ments like these are en­sur­ing that trou­bleshoot­ing, en­gine per­for­mance, emis­sions, fuel ef­fi­ciency and re­li­a­bil­ity are a key con­stituents of buy­ing a truck. A cru­cial link is the abil­ity to lever­age dig­i­tal tech. To bet­ter in­te­grate them in the in­ter­est of smooth sail­ing in the face of ris­ing com­plex­i­ties. Truck­ers, said the ex­pert, are keen to avail of a sup­port sys­tem that starts at the show­room and ends at the ve­hi­cle ‘end of life’. A re­port ‘The In­dian Heavy Duty Truck Mar­ket Out­look’ re­leased by Frost & Sul­li­van has un­der­lined that CV buy­ers are look­ing for higher re­li­a­bil­ity, pro­duc­tiv­ity and the over­all cost of own­er­ship. While fuel ef­fi­ciency con­tin­ues to rank the first in­flu­enc­ing fac­tor, the or­der of fac­tors that fol­low has been chang­ing. The promi­nence of toll costs has been in­creas­ing. Even the need for more pa­per work ne­ces­si­tated by GST and e-way bill. In a post GST era, said the ex­pert, many new vari­ables have added to the equa­tion.

Lead­ing the sales charts, tip­pers are call­ing for spe­cialised ser­vice re­quire­ments. IoT and AI as part of pre­dic­tive main­te­nance regime are en­sur­ing that tip­per fleets get want they want, and are able to clock higher up­time. To fur­ther en­hance cus­tomer sup­port, Tata Mo­tors has been in­vest­ing is digi­ti­sa­tion. It has been driv­ing a unique ini­tia­tive in­volv­ing ex­perts, called Dronas. Ac­cord­ing to Girish Wagh, Head – Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles, Tata Mo­tors, the Dronas travel with the cus­tomer, watch their driver drive, and show what he could do to de­rive bet­ter fuel ef­fi­ciency. Real­is­ing the im­por­tant part lo­cal me­chan­ics have been play­ing, the com­pany has tied up with sev­eral of them. About 12000 of them. Termed as Acharyas, these me­chan­ics have been trained to han­dle the new gen­er­a­tion BSIV ve­hi­cles. With the rise in elec­tron­ics on board a CV, Tata Mo­tors is said to in­crease the thrust on data col­lec­tion and anal­y­sis. As part of its digi­ti­sa­tion strat­egy, it is claimed to of­fer a com­pre­hen­sive suite of ser­vices through the Tata Fleet­man telem­at­ics plat­form. VE Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles has in­tro­duced a unique app., ac­cord­ing to an in­dus­try source, to help cus­tomers log-in emer­gency calls from their smart phones. The app. could be also used to track the re­sponse of the GPS-en­abled EOS vans. Said to col­lect and an­a­lyse data with the ad­vent of BSIV CVs, VECV, with thrust on in­creas­ing the mar­ket share in heavy ve­hi­cles, is claimed to in­vest in pro­cesses that could help it serve its cus­tomers bet­ter. One ex­am­ple is the Eicher Live Telem­at­ics of­fer­ing. It not only en­ables track­ing, it also in­cludes fleet-fuel-trip man­age­ment sys­tem and fault iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. As­sist­ing planned main­te­nance to avoid down­time, the in­tel­li­gent fleet man­age­ment so­lu­tion serves in max­imis­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity and profitabil­ity by pro­vid­ing fleet man­age­ment, fuel man­age­ment and up­time man­age­ment. Pro­vid­ing main­te­nance re­minders to keep the fleet in op­er­a­tional readi­ness, Eicher Live en­ables kilo­me­tre read­ing, geo-fenc­ing, trip his­tory for cho­sen date, time in­ter­val and odome­ter read­ing. It also syncs with the en­gine man­age­ment sys­tem, reads fuel con­sump­tion and gen­er­ates a re­al­time fuel anal­y­sis re­port, en­abling the user to track and im­prove ef­fi­ciency.

Daim­ler In­dia Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles is lev­er­ag­ing data to stay ahead of the curve.

To tap into the ris­ing world of pre­dic­tive main­te­nance and bet­ter ser­vice, Ashok Ley­land un­veiled four dig­i­tal plat­forms.

Mar­ket leader Tata Mo­tors has in­vested in Dronas and Acharyas to ad­dress cus­tomer needs.

Rise in on board elec­tron­ics has fa­cil­i­tated data col­lec­tion, and the way to ad­dress the ex­act­ing needs of cus­tomers.

Eicher Live is a com­pre­hen­sive tech of­fer­ing that en­ables track­ing, fleet-fuel-trip man­age­ment sys­tem, fault iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and in­tel­li­gent fleet man­age­ment.

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