Last time out in Hooked Up, I wrote about how telematics and remote diagnostics are resulting in a reduction in unplanned downtime. Now, you can add Mack Trucks to the list of OEMs that are taking advantage of this opportunity. I visited Allentown Oct. 2 for the unveiling of GuardDog Connect, which proactively monitors fault codes generated by the engine and emissions system, analyzes those codes and then advises the operator on the most prudent course of action.
About 30 of the most common fault codes are monitored through the program, and more can be added as required. Yes, it works a lot like the Remote Diagnostics program offered by Mack’s sister company, though Mack folks feel they have an edge because it also incorporates the company’s existing GuardDog on-board maintenance management and communications portal. “As a foundation, that is a key point of differentiation between the two platforms,” said David Pardue, v.p., aftermarket business development.
The beauty of GuardDog Connect is that it really can reduce unplanned downtime. So often, a driver will receive a fault code on the dash and take the truck in for service, when the item needing attention could have waited till the truck returned to home base or went in to the dealer for its next scheduled service interval. Now, when such is the case, the driver will be advised to continue on his or her journey and deal with the problem later, or, when urgent repairs are required, the driver will be guided into the nearest dealership with the required parts and appointment availability, streamlining the repair process.
So now there are three remote diagnostics platforms offered in the industry: Volvo’s Remote Diagnostics; Daimler’s Virtual Technician; and Mack’s GuardDog Connect. There’s a lot to like about all three of these systems; while they all set out to accomplish the same thing, there are a couple notable differences.
The Virtual Technician program is unique, because it captures a data log that includes 60 seconds before, and 15 seconds after, the fault code was displayed in the dash, rather than a freeze frame of when the light came on. Detroit folks say this is a huge advantage in determining the cause of the fault code, which often occurs in the seconds before the lamp goes on. On the other hand, the Volvo and Mack programs are more connected with their respective service networks. They can evaluate parts availability and send the truck to the right location, even going so far as to schedule an appointment. Virtual Technician doesn’t yet have that level of integration with the service network. GuardDog Connect will be offered on new Mack trucks (free for two years) beginning in January 2014.
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