Meanwhile, Detroit’s Virtual Technician, who goes by the name Cody, is probably due for a raise. Virtual Technician is Detroit’s remote diagnostics program, which monitors fault codes from the company’s Redford, Mich. tech centre and then advises the fleet owner or driver on the most appropriate course of action. Eighty per cent of the time, the truck is allowed to stay on the road and have the fault code-generating issue attended to during the next scheduled service interval.
Detroit now has more than 60,000 Virtual Technician-equipped vehicles in the market and it has logged more than two million events. Every time a truck is allowed to stay on the road rather than come into the shop for diagnostics is a win for users, noted David Hames, general manager, marketing and strategy with Daimler Trucks North America. He said avoiding downtime just once is enough to pay the incremental cost that Virtual Technician incurs.
Daimler isn’t the only company offering remote diagnostics. Volvo has a pretty good system, too. What makes them different? Detroit officials said during a recent demonstration that Virtual Technician is the only one to capture a data log when a fault code is displayed. This log captures all operating parameters from 60 seconds prior to that pesky light coming on in the dash, to 15 seconds afterwards.
That log file is the “secret sauce” of Virtual Technician, according to Marty Kubiak, manager, customer support center. He pointed out a condition usually occurs for about 30 seconds prior to the light appearing on the dash, so it’s vital to see what took place in the moments before the light came on. Everyone complains about downtime, and rightfully so. It’s costly and disruptive. But remote diagnostics represents the future of minimizing the impact of unplanned downtime. It’s here now and will only become increasingly prevalent and effective as we march forward.
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