By 2025, we want to decimate unplanned truck stops,” says Markus Efraimsson, Vice President of Uptime Services at Volvo Trucks. It’s an ambitious target, but one that is becoming increasingly achievable thanks to recent technological advances.
Today, every Volvo truck is equipped with one of the industry’s most advanced telematic and diagnostic systems. This – coupled with the latest connectivity technology – enables Volvo Trucks to remotely monitor and analyse critical component data in real time and predict when a malfunction is going to occur.
The data, which comes from the truck’s after-treatment, engine and power management systems, as well as several other key indicators for vehicle health, is transmitted to Volvo Trucks International Uptime Center in Ghent, Belgium. Here, it is processed and analysed. If an alert is raised, it is then communicated to the home dealer, or via a national uptime center, so that they can take preventive action before a breakdown occurs. Currently, Real Time Monitoring is available as an option of the Volvo Gold Contract in most European markets.
Shanna Schillewaert, who works as a Service Development Specialist alongside over 500 technical staff and data scientists within Truck Monitoring at the International Uptime Center, explains:
“Not only are we gathering and processing extensive real time truck data, we are also using advanced techniques in machine learning to analyse it and predict malfunctions. We’re not just the beating heart of truck monitoring, our technical expertise and industry knowledge can also help us to develop algorithms that provide precise predictions about a truck’s health.”
Part of Shanna’s job is also to ensure a two-way information flow between the center’s technical team and Volvo Trucks. This is so that insights and feedback are taken onboard to improve the service the International Uptime Center provides.
“It’s important to remember there’s a human presence behind everything we do here. We’re constantly working to make the whole process as smooth as we can,” she says.
One example of how the International Uptime Center has evolved is its work to eliminate language barriers. Whether it’s predictive alerts, breakdown or technical support, the aim is to communicate in the customer’s or dealer’s native language. The center currently guarantees this service in 16 different languages.
By analysing real time data, processes are in place that allow us to act before something happens.
In the beginning, the Truck Monitoring Center within the International Uptime Center worked with five European markets, but now it’s operating in 24. The support it provides, combined with the ability to monitor trucks in real time, has already seen predictive maintenance benefit thousands of Volvo Trucks customers. Moving forward, the aim is to drastically increase the number of trucks that are monitored in real time over the coming years. Volvo Trucks is also gradually expanding the number of components it monitors and gathers data from.
Shanna says that she has followed Volvo Trucks’ uptime journey. “When I started 10 years ago, I was responding to breakdowns and it was mainly reactive. Then I worked in connected services, which enables what we do today. Now, everything is moving from reactive to proactive. By analysing real time data, processes are in place that allow us to act before something happens. It’s a transition with endless possibilities for the transport industry,” she says.
All of this work is part of Volvo Trucks’ ongoing strategy to keep customers trucks on the road. Another initiative to support this plan is to further shorten service times and make them more convenient for transport operations. Real Time Monitoring means unplanned stops can be predicted and turned into planned ones, or even combined with existing service visits that are already on a truck’s maintenance schedule. The whole process is more efficient and can even be less frequent if the truck’s data has already been analysed and the required technicians and parts are already in place.
It’s also why, in parallel to the launch of its new, fully connected truck range, Volvo Trucks is introducing the Volvo Uptime Care Contract that takes advantage of the benefits of preventive maintenance. This new contract offers continuously updated maintenance schedules based on the actual usage and condition of a truck, pre-planned workshop visits and automatic notifications on the truck’s instrument cluster when it’s time for a service.
What’s most interesting is that by using machine learning, we can identify hidden patterns and predict malfunctions more accurately.
Better connectivity allows data to flow to the truck as well, making it possible to conduct software and parameter updates remotely. Remote Software Downloads can even be carried out during a lunch break and are already reducing the number of truck visits to the workshop. The time savings are substantial, and it’s yet another technological innovation that is helping Volvo Trucks to set a new standard in truck uptime.
Last but not least, new methods in machine learning are opening up opportunities to improve the accuracy of predicting and preventing unplanned stops. Volvo Trucks is already starting to discover more about how its trucks work in real situations in order to predict component failure even further in advance – by as much as 100 days in some cases. And there is great potential to utilise this information to develop better, more dynamic products in the future.
“What’s most interesting is that by using machine learning, we can identify hidden patterns and predict malfunctions more accurately. That means not only can we almost eliminate the need for extra workshop visits – we can also look at exactly what is causing components to fail. And that is an exciting prospect for keeping our customer’s trucks on the road,” says Markus Efraimsson.
Volvo Trucks is currently applying new methods for monitoring and analysing data from thousands of trucks in real time. When an imminent failure is detected, the International Uptime Center is alerted so that preventive actions can be taken. Real Time Monitoring of uptime critical components is today available as an option of the Volvo Gold Contract in most European markets. It will gradually be rolled out into new markets, and become available as an option to our other Volvo Service Contracts in the near future.
REMOTE SOFTWARE DOWNLOAD
Enhanced connectivity makes it easier to perform software downloads remotely, reducing the need for trucks to visit the workshop. The new software is downloaded and stored in the truck until the driver finds a suitable time for the installation. Volvo Software Accessories can also be downloaded remotely for easy and convenient upgrades.
VOLVO UPTIME CARE CONTRACT
Volvo Trucks is introducing a new service contract called Volvo Uptime Care Contract, specifically designed to improve uptime. It includes Connected Service Planning that allows Volvo Trucks, thanks to better connectivity, to continuously update and optimize the maintenance schedule by following the real usage and condition of a truck. Uptime Care also minimizes the risk of unexpected breakdowns through remote monitoring of selected components. With all this information the workshop visit can be pre-planned and parts ordered in advance if needed. This service is also included in the other Volvo Service Contracts with connectivity.