ATLANTA, Ga. – Volvo Trucks North America has announced it has commenced over-the-air remote updates for engine software and parameter updates.
The company has updated 1,300 trucks since last June, and is in a controlled roll-out phase.
Volvo’s Conal Deedy updates the press at TMC on the company’s over-the-air udpates.
“What we learned through the pilot and customers, is there’s a process when we roll it out,” Conal Deedy, director of connected vehicle services said during a press conference at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s Spring meetings. “We are adding customers as we go and talking to them and explaining what the service is, and making sure they understand it before we bring them into the program. That’s going on right now with multiple customers every week, and over the next four to five months we will get all the customers into the service.”
Volvo estimates its remote updates have already eliminated more than 600 days of downtime. The average update has taken 20 minutes, and so far, half are overseen by the driver while half are performed by fleet maintenance personnel. Remote updates are available for the powertrain, including the engine, aftertreatment system and I-Shift transmission.
Customers are notified by a Volvo rep when an update is available. They schedule the update and then notify the driver when it’s to occur. The driver parks the truck with the key in the on position, and then allows the update to be completed. Cellular coverage is required. The human interaction is an important differentiator for Volvo.
“It’s not just about technology. It’s combining the human element in the process to make sure we get the best outcome for our customers,” said Deedy. “We want a human there to support them through the process.”
In addition to powertrain software updates, parameter updates can be done remotely as well. These include road speed configuration, fuel economy mode, performance mode, or balanced mode. These are limited to two per year for free, with subscription packages available for further parameter updates.
Saia is one of the first fleets to take advantage of over-the-air updates, and director of maintenance Jason Plumlee said its’ been beneficial, since the fleet runs its tractors around the clock.
“We have a short window we have to work in,” he said, referring to when to do scheduled maintenance. “It’s one of our largest challenges.”
Saia tested the technology with a pilot fleet of 10-20 trucks.
“It was a very seamless, very easy process,” Plumlee said. “We got very comfortable with it, then we rolled that out to the rest of our fleet that had the capabilities of doing over-the-air calibration updates, and now we do that at all our maintenance facilities.”
Saia has an expansive terminal network, but not all are equipped with shop facilities, so it gives the fleet the opportunity to quickly update its entire fleet without driving to the nearest shop. Plumlee said the biggest benefit is being able to quickly take advantage of software improvements that will improve performance.
“The technology is evolving so rapidly, it’s very important to us that we keep the most current updates so we can take advantage of the improved fuel efficiency, safety technologies, and product improvements,” he said.