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Detroit Diesel Launches Telematics Arm

Posted: August 1, 2014

Detroit’s tablet reads an RFID tag

DETROIT, MI. — Detroit Diesel has introduced Detroit Connect, its new telematics arm that includes the Virtual Technician onboard diagnostics system. The new brand offers what are called the first OEM-provided, factory-installed telematics tools with remote diagnosis capability.

Key parts of the offering are a new on-board tablet and fleet-management software. A mobile device equipped with apps to streamline communications and manage driver hours of service, among other things, the tablet is said to use “the latest in commercial telematics technology to boost efficiency and driver performance.”

Developed in collaboration with Zonar Systems, the tablet works seamlessly with Detroit Virtual Technician and Visibility fleet software. Certified compliant with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration HOS regulations, the tablet is designed for Freightliner and Western Star truck models, and can be easily mounted inside the cab. Trucks will be pre-wired at the factory to accept the tablet, and it will be integrated with the vehicle’s audio system.

Compatibility with Canadian HOS rules will be finished by the time of the system’s full launch in January.

The combination of the tablet, Virtual Technician, and Visibility fleet software creates a comprehensive suite of services that link trucks, engineers, service outlets, and fleet managers.

The new on-board tablet is an Android device equipped with four apps to streamline driver communications and responsibilities. Its 7-in. color touch screen shows HOS logs for reporting; two-way messaging including text to voice; navigation for asset-specific routing and simplified pre- and post-trip inspection. The latter uses RFID tags fastened to key parts of the vehicle which are to be scanned by the portable tablet.

Virtual Technician is available for Freightliner and Western Star trucks with an EPA-2010 or newer Detroit engine. Also developed in concert with Zonar, it helps reduce downtime and decrease maintenance costs by providing a technical snapshot of the engine’s status as soon as the ‘check engine’ light comes on, enabling drivers and fleet managers to make informed decisions with real-time information. The Detroit Customer Support Center then relays the information to the provided contact to determine the issue, recommended service, how soon the engine needs to be serviced, and supply the closest authorized Detroit service location. Often, depending on the issue, the driver can complete his delivery before visiting the service center. Trained technicians are alerted in advance of the customer’s arrival, so they can quickly line up the parts, arrange for service, and repair the problem.

Some 80% of ‘check engine’ calls are resolved remotely.

Visibility fleet software uses wireless communication and a GPS satellite network to deliver real-time data on the entire fleet to a secured website, enabling fleet managers and owners to monitor the status of one or all of the trucks. The software generates reports that analyze fleet efficiency, and provides detailed information on vehicle location, speed, mileage, routes, stop times, idle times and more.

Integration with existing fleet software and management systems will involve some programming, but that’s unlikely to be difficult, says Detroit.

An app store will be developed and administered by Zonar for the Detroit products.

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