Don't text and drive (but do stay connected on the road)

As drivers learn what the tech can do for them, they are eager to take advantage.

During his keynote presentation at the recent Smart Industry conference, Navistar VP of Analytics Dan Pikelny explained how the trucking giant is closing the loop on product-design by gleaning actionable insights from data.

We wanted to dig deeper, so we connected with Andrew Dondlinger, Navistar VP and general manager of connected services and Javier Perez, product director for application-development at Axway Appcelerator, which Navistar used to build the mobile app that delivers data from the field to the home office.

Take a look…

Andrew Dondlinger: A connected truck is certainly well-positioned to minimize future

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Navistar's Andrew Dondlinger

problems by staying on top of preventive maintenance. But we know that problems will inevitably occur, and the connected truck can be quickly diagnosed to address them when they do. Imagine a long-haul trucker, driving across the country to deliver a load, when a light comes on the dashboard. What does it mean? Does the driver need to stop and have the truck serviced right away? Or can it wait until the load is delivered? If the truck is connected, the driver and the fleet manager will see in a vehicle-health report not only what caused the light to go on, but also what to do about it and how quickly it needs to be done. 

Smart Industry: What if the truck has to be serviced—how does being a connected truck help? 

Andrew: Because the driver already knows what the problem is from the health report. He or she can communicate more effectively with the repair facility and save valuable time when it comes to triage and diagnosis. Thanks to the GPS functionality, the location of the truck is shown on a map, along with the locations and contact information for nearby dealerships and repair facilities, tire centers, truck stops, and even hotels, in case an overnight stay is needed. Dealers can also be prepared with the right parts and service bay space when the truck arrives. The result is faster, more accurate triage, diagnosis and repair, to get the truck back on the road quickly. It’s all about uptime.

Smart Industry: Does a mobile app like this empower drivers to make mission-critical decisions or take that decision-making element out of the process? 

Andrew: Our mission is to be completely flexible and customer-centric. Our services are part of an open, connected ecosystem that provides customers with the flexibility to choose the features that support the decision-making process that works best for them, whether they are a large fleet or an owner/operator. Sometimes it is necessary for a driver to be able to make the mission-critical decision. That may well be the case with owner/operators, for example, or small fleets that may not have access to a fleet manager 24x7. These tools empower drivers by giving them all the information they need in one easy-to-use application, with the highest frequency and data resolution in the industry, so they can confidently make those decisions quickly.

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Axway's Javier Perez

Javier Perez: To build their mobile app, Navistar leveraged our mobile-application-development tools. The Axway Appcelerator Mobile solution, for example, provides a mobile-application-development platform, a scalable cloud-based enterprise mobile backend-as-a-service (MBaaS), and real-time mobile analytics to build and deploy native applications for multiple device platforms with a single code base. 

Smart Industry: How have the field operators (truck drivers) taken to this new technology? Any backlash about being monitored? How thorough is training to ensure proper adoption?

Andrew: We are finding that as drivers learn about the new technology and what it can do for them, they are eager to take advantage of it. We have worked hard to listen to the voice of the driver through surveys and direct contact with them, so we can develop solutions that will work for them. I think that work is paying off in the way drivers are embracing the technology. There has not been a fear of being monitored. Drivers understand the benefits of getting easy access to the information they need, in formats that are actionable. It keeps them on the road. And we have a team of user-experience and training developers dedicated to making sure the user experience is as easy as possible, and that it aligns with the customers’ preferred means of interaction. For example, multiple sources of information are available to answer questions, from our 24x7 help desk to training videos on YouTube.

Smart Industry: What do you see coming next for drivers?

Andrew: We now have more than 330,000 vehicles enrolled. The insights we gain through data analytics will generate even smarter diagnostics, as well as prognostics. With the advent of the OnCommand Connection Marketplace, an open-access app purchasing site similar to iTunes, drivers can look forward to accessing a broad range of services and products from third parties and developers that can make their lives easier. The Marketplace is designed to accommodate apps—from load boards to discounts at their favorite truck stop. This ability to access a potentially unlimited array of business and technical support services makes the future of connected vehicles exciting.

 

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