Choosing a telematic, diagnostic service

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Updated Apr 7, 2017

Note: This story is part of a three-part series on telematics and remote diagnostics. See the full series at this link.

The OnCommand Connection portal from NavistarThe OnCommand Connection portal from Navistar

On most new trucks, onboard diagnostics are standard but standard subscription length can vary based on truck model.

Retrofit packages and services are generally bundled into packages with everything ranging from regulatory compliance to asset tracking.

Michael Riemer, vice president of products and channel marketing for Decisiv, Inc., says it’s crucial that the end user understands what kind of data they are getting and what they should be doing with it.

“What I would caution customers on is that just because a telematics vendor says they do diagnostics doesn’t mean they are doing it in an intelligent way,” he says. “Sending out alerts every time a fault is thrown, you’re going to get spammed to death.”

Navistar’s OnCommand Connection, launched in October 2013, is standard on all new International trucks, but is also available via the aftermarket for legacy International trucks and non-International vehicles.

Vehicle status and diagnostic trouble code data from more than a dozen telematics service providers are transmitted to OnCommand Connection, which then interprets this data and creates vehicle health reports and recommended action plans for all brands of vehicles and engines, which can be accessed through online portal, emails and other types of alerts, as determined by the customer.

Reimer says fleets should seek out a service that limits the amount of alerts and is focused on the things that are most important.

“Get something for high-severity faults and PM management,” he adds, noting getting just critical faults and high-level data is better than getting nothing at all. “It’s better information than you have today.”

Tina Alread, HDA Truck Pride’s director of sales, agrees, adding that customers should also be sure that any potential service provider can send the information where the fleet wants it to go, not just within a dealership or predetermined OEM network.

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“[In the HDA platform] the truck owner owns their own data, and it can be shared with anyone they want,” she says, “no matter what the situation is.”

Additionally, Riemer cautions, vendors who provide generic equipment are most likely only going to be able to provide generic information. So, aligning expectations with reality is important.

“The challenge is that if they plug to a standard OBD-II or JBUS port, you’re only getting the standard stuff,” he says. “If there’s any proprietary data in there, you’re not going to get it. But you’ll at least get some level of severity in near-real time.”

The overall goal with onboard diagnostics – regardless of the provider – Alread says, is to simply boost uptime.

“We always talk about uptime and preventive maintenance,” she says, “diagnostics gives you an avenue to do predictive maintenance. We can predictively decide how to run the fleet’s maintenance department to increase uptime. Having the diagnostic health support of the vehicle is like your crystal ball.”

“GPS tracking helps with route optimization, driver safety, idle time, productivity is a piece of the tracking that can benefit everybody,” Riemer adds.

Also in this series:

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected]