Businesses are getting flexibility from connectivity in a number of different ways. For Scania, connectivity is making tailored truck servicing for each individual truck possible.
When we think about connected trucks the features that come to mind are: location data, delivery times, truck routing and safety concerns. These are vital functions, but Scania have introduced a new flexible maintenance scheme which uses the data coming out of the connected truck to schedule servicing more precisely and rationally.
The principle behind this concept is straightforward. The harder a truck works, the more often it needs to be checked and serviced. In a modern truck, there is enough data from the electronics to establish a smart maintenance system, one that determines what specific job needs to be done and at what specific time.
This is the essence of the system that Scania have been fitting into their trucks for the last 4 years. The level of electronic monitoring within the truck has been very sophisticated for quite some time. It is now being utilised by a system officially called ‘Scania Maintenance with Flexible Plans’, and this flexible maintenance is being sold by Scania in conjunction with contract maintenance.
As of January 1st 2019, new Scania trucks include five years maintenance in their purchase price. In effect, this means the flexible maintenance program is available to anyone who buys a Scania truck.
The system simply uses electronics already fitted in the truck to do its work. The real smarts behind the system are sitting in the servers at Scania headquarters in Sweden. This is where the algorithms process all of the data flowing in from trucks across the world and analyse what is going on in each individual truck to come up with a constantly changing but tailored maintenance schedule for each truck.
“Flexible maintenance really looks at how the vehicle is performing, its loads, its operation, how it is being driven, there’s lots of different factors there,” says Sean Corby, formerly Director of Aftersales for Scania and now Regional Executive Manager for Scania NSW. “It will not only adjust the intervals, but the work which is performed when the truck comes in. In the system there are now around 30 smaller modules, which are adjusted on an ongoing basis, depending on how the vehicle is being driven.
“It is possible to modify our contract maintenance plan and go back to periodic servicing. Before we introduced these flexible plans, we were running the same module modular periodic servicing plans we had used for over 25 years.
“We would look at a vehicle and the operation and we would come back and suggest small medium and large services at particular intervals. This calculation is not really specific to the vehicle and if you get it wrong you can either over service or under service the truck.”
The new flexible plans take all of these calculations to a new level. If you take the example of something like the retarder in the transmission, under the old system it would be checked and maintained at periodic maintenance. However, now, if the truck is working in flat country, the intervals at which the retarder will be checked and reconditioned will be extended. If the truck is working in hilly country and the retarder is holding back high masses on long downhill grades, the system will pick up on this and reduce the time between maintenance of the retarder.
The system will be monitoring how long the retarder is engaged and at what temperature it runs, as well as recording the topography of the country in which it is working. Heat, mass and speed will also be brought into the equation. The system knows precisely how hard the fluid in the retarder is working over a period of time.
The algorithms running on the servers in Sweden will calculate precisely what that particular truck needs to have done to it at what point, in terms of the retarder. As it lays out the flexible service schedule into the future it will ensure the retarder is examined at the correct points.
This same calculation will be being made individually about all of the components that need to be monitored in each individual truck. The historical data that Scania is pulling in from the 4,160 trucks running around in Australia that are fitted with this system, as well as all of the global data from trucks running with the Scania connect system, are harnessed to make these calculations. This level of data means flexible maintenance scheduling can become very precise.
The system is measuring ambient temperature, plus the temperature of many components on the truck itself, mass, driving time and speed are all included as well. There is also data being collected on the drivers themselves and their driving behaviours. Idle time, road conditions, in terms of topography are in there. Various facets are collated and analysed against the algorithms in the central computer network.
All new Scania trucks are fitted with this system, generating data, which is being monitored and sent back, on a weekly basis to the Swedish computers. The operator doesn’t have to do anything, the system just automatically uploads the data.