New ways to buy a truck are being investigated in Europe, Diesel News talked to Scania’s global sales and marketing boss to get his thoughts on the process.
Sitting in the well-appointed headquarters building at the centre of the Scania Trucks operation in Södertälje in Sweden feels a million miles away from the reality of owning and running trucks in the real world. However, it is one of the tasks of Christian Levin, Scania’s Global Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing, to get some real-world feedback and come up with new offerings to the truck owner of the future.
“It might sound silly, but using our products and services to give our customers improved profitability has not been the focus previously, not just for us, but all of the manufacturers,” says Christian. “All of us have been manufacturing our products for the average user. We have talked about market segments, but have not really gone down into what makes sense if you are in something like the cold chain. What is the difference?
“We have been using our modular manufacturing system, so our customers have been picking and choosing from our toolbox to create a tailor-made truck for their application. Over the last five or six years in the development process of the new trucks, we have been thinking about cold chain, what about wood chip, what about timber, what about general goods? Where can we really contribute to our customers’ earnings, by developing components to give them something more practicable?
“Our development starts from specific customer needs. Of course, addressing the shortcomings we knew we had, but also going much further, to really understand what it is the customer needs in each application. Now, with our new trucks with bigger cabins and the higher horsepower, which would once have been called long haul, it’s now eleven different applications, covering lots of different industries.”
Within each broad application set, there is a broad spread of different specifications to customise the truck for task. This is a refinement of the modular system to widen choice further for the operator.
A similar process has been worked through by Scania on the services which are supplied alongside the hardware of the truck itself. The process has seen the development of the services on offer to be as modular as the hardware is.
“For each chosen hardware combination there is a service package and this service package can be tailored to the specific product being supplied,” says Christian. “The most beautiful example is maintenance with flexible plans. What it means is, for the specific hardware specification, plus the way the customer is using the vehicle, taking into account topography, temperature range, dust levels and driver behaviour gleaned from customer history, we tailor the offering.
“We use connectivity, we already have 211,000 connected vehicles in our portal. We can help the specific customer. We can say, ‘here are similar usages of the vehicles’ from anywhere around the world and let them choose the perfect maintenance contract, do we change the oil filter, the air filter, the retarder oil all at the exact point it is needed.
“Then you may get a very strange maintenance scheme, because the perfect point to change oil filter might be after 73,000km, but the perfect moment to change the air filter might be after 78,000km. Then you have to have a discussion with the customer about what makes the most sense to their operation. Is it to make two stops to optimise the life of the filter and gain some costs or whether to bundle them together? Which would make sense.”
This kind of precise targeting of service needs down to the minute is now possible under the new system being used by Scania in Europe. The data collected from all of the connected vehicles is enabling the kind of precision Scania are offering. Then the discussion with the operator can ensure the package fits the operation.
The program is using service intervals all of the way from 23,000km up to 15,0000km for some customers, because the connectivity data has given Scania a much better base of knowledge with which to work.
“We took 70,000 vehicles into a study and looked at how we maintained them,” says Christian. “We found that on around 15 per cent we were doing too little maintenance, risking the quality of the hardware. On a few of the vehicles we were doing the right amount of maintenance, but on a large majority, we were doing too much. Which is waste, from a cost viewpoint.”