WABCO reducing vehicle downtime with remote diagnostics

Vehicle technology provider WABCO has described how remote diagnostics systems and advanced workshop solutions are helping to return vehicles to the road in record time. “The transport industry faces the challenge of a continuously faster moving market,” said the company. “Solutions providing more efficient and profitable operations are in great demand. Therefore, connectivity is the name of the game these days. By connecting trucks, trailers and cargo with intelligent solutions, a wealth of real-time information and, consequently, actionable insights becomes available to many different stakeholders – ready to enhance decision – making as well as to improve operations.” Remote diagnostics in particular – failure detection from a distance – will play a pivotal role in the future of the transport industry, the company claims, since such systems allow operations to analyse their fleets’ health state at any time, plan and schedule maintenance and order spare parts – even while they are still on the road. This reduces downtime, saves costs and therefore enhances efficiency.

“Fully integrated into a comprehensive system of fleet management solutions (FMS) that support fleet managers and operators, fault codes can be forwarded via on-board computers into back office platforms,” added WABCO. “Via translation into plain language, the system easily explains what is wrong with the truck, what caused the problem and how it can be solved. Advanced FMS combine real-time data from the braking system such as tyre pressure, wheel speed, lining wear or loading information with other vehicle operating data,” WABCO continued.

“A broad spectrum of data, including vehicle, driver and cargo data, is collected and evaluated to improve vehicle and fleet efficiency.”

Dispatchers can use this data to calculate, for example, drivers’ performance, identifying areas where safety and efficiency improvements could be made such as braking behaviour, idle and rotational speed. FMS can also alert fleet operators in real time of potential issues such as loss of tyre pressure and worn-down brake linings, allowing preparations to be made for necessary maintenance and spare parts to be preordered. “With remote diagnostics, any defect can be repaired at an early state” continued the company.

“In this way, smart systems pinpoint anomalies that may cause defects in operating data and warn the driver in case of a required repair. Moreover, if the solution is fully integrated into the truck’s OBD (on-board diagnostics) socket and back office platforms, fleet managers and operators can detect anomalies or severe failures while the vehicles are still on the road…

“Remote diagnostics solutions eliminate the need for time-consuming, manual readout sessions. The solutions give precise insights into the fleet’s health state reducing downtime and saving costs, by helping to remotely keep a close eye on the health of the trucks. “The remote diagnostics solution needs to be connected to the vehicle’s electronically controlled technology to read out fault codes. Using an on-board computer, these data are forwarded to a back office platform that gives fleet operators a comprehensive overview of all fault date delivered in real-time.” One such remote diagnostics solution is TX-DIAGNOSTIX by Transics, a WABCO company. It is said to provide fleets with a detailed, over-the air assessment of the technical health of all brands of trucks. The obtained data is forwarded via an integrated on-board computer (TX-SKY) to the back office platform (TX-CONNECT).

WABCO also highlights the loss of earning that fleets face while vehicles are off the road in workshops for repairs. The combination of solutions that communicate detected failures to workshops, and those that enable service partners to quickly carry out interventions, reduces vehicle downtime and accelerates the repair process. “If software and hardware meet the specific diagnostic needs of workshops, the solutions allow the immediate sharing of diagnostic reports with all stakeholders for maximum efficiency,’ said the company.

“Workshops can be informed of a needed service before the vehicle arrives, order required spare parts beforehand and organise resources for a specific intervention. The workshop can also suggest proactive and preventive maintenance to avoid unplanned and possibly more costly downtime in the future…

“Once the vehicle has arrived, integrated workshop solutions support a more detailed detection of failures and can quickly carry out repairs that have been reported by remote diagnostic systems.” In terms of in-workshop challenges, WABCO identifies leakages in particular as a potentially time-consuming problem for technicians to identify, even small ones can cause major limitations to a truck’s performance, such as a faster wear of the vehicle compressors and higher fuel consumption. “Time-efficient leakage detectors reduce this service to a two-minute routine check,” added the firm.

“Advanced tools use ultrasonic technology to find even the smallest erosions within only two minutes. This not only enhances vehicles’ uptimes but also allows workshops to work more efficiently – and satisfies their customers in turn.” The company added: “retro-fitting fleets with FMS means adding even more value, as trucks and trailers are now able to directly communicate with drivers and fleet managers. But so far the uptake of such technologies is still lacking… “only around 18 per cent of commercial vehicles in the EU and nine percent of trailers are equipped with a telematics-related fleet management system – and only a limited number of fleets are using remote diagnostics. To avoid critical situations, safety systems that can be retrofitted and perfectly connected with FMS are also available for fleets.”

Source: Transport Operator UK (January/February 2019)