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