Kenworth News

Kenworth TruckTech+ Remote Diagnostics Gives Dart Transit New Visibility To Truck Status

With more than 300 Kenworth T680s in its fleet, and on lease-to-own programs with independent contractors, Dart Transit Company and the Dart Network have been realizing high driver acceptance and excellent fuel economy. It’s now also seeing another benefit – improved uptime and fewer tows thanks to Kenworth TruckTech+.

“We implemented TruckTech+ at the beginning of 2016 and it’s given us great visibility on the health of our Kenworths,” said Paul Mages, who is the lead on Dart’s company efficiency team. According to Mages, the biggest contributor to improving up-time has been email alerts notifying when ‘re-gens’ are needed.

Paul Mages of Dart Transit Company and the Dart Network

“That’s been significant,” he said. “Before, the truck could be de-rated if a driver overlooked an alert or waited too long to clean the emissions system – especially after the truck had been sitting over a rest period. Now, we get an email notification when the soot level gets to a critical level and can call the driver and get action taken before a de-rate takes place. If we see the truck idling, in stop-and-go traffic, or a truck stop, we can instruct him to park the truck and start the re-gen process – something that takes between 15 and 30 minutes. If we see the driver on the freeway, we know that the re-gen can take place automatically. Getting these alerts is a great example of how we’re eliminating potential downtime.”

What’s more, Mages said it’s helping in driver training. “Remote diagnostics is showing us trends, and frequency of occurrences, so we can share that data with our drivers. Before we didn’t realize that some of our drivers didn’t know the procedure for a parked re-gen, for example. But, now they do.”

Mages also said the amount of information and detail provided to Dart’s call center via remote diagnostics is taking the guesswork out of roadside issues. “It’s not so much a roll of the dice anymore,” he said. “We would always want to err on the side of caution when it comes to trucks, and use our gut feeling whether to continue on, or shut the truck down completely. The codes and information we’re now receiving with Kenworth TruckTech+ enables us to make informed decisions. In addition, it allows us to reverse the flow of information from our call center. We are transitioning from being reactive – where calls come in from drivers – to one where we are proactive. We’re now calling drivers and telling them what course of action to take based on the severity of the issue, with some even directed to continue driving and address the issue during the next scheduled maintenance period.”

Dart is also using the PACCAR Solutions Portal to further track the health of all the company’s new Kenworth trucks in real-time, in a single snapshot. The portal enables TruckTech+ users to view a map with pins indicating the health of each truck in its entire fleet of Kenworth trucks equipped with TruckTech+ Remote Diagnostics. Customers can then click on individual trucks and drill down to identify any health issues.

“While we haven’t rolled out all the processes yet to fully utilize all the capabilities of the portal, we are using it to dig deeper on some of the email alerts we receive,” Mages said. “And, if a driver notifies us that there is an issue with the truck, we can log in and take a look at the diagnostic information to get a better idea of what’s happening. This makes it easier for us to take care of our drivers – and we absolutely want to take care of our most important asset.”

While Dart has its own over-the-road shop network, it relies on Kenworth dealers in areas not covered. “This way we can direct a truck into a service location based on what TruckTech+ is telling us,” said Mages. “We’ll often call a driver and tell him that he needs to head to XYZ service location for maintenance, and we have the appointment scheduled and the part ready to go. The driver will ask, ‘how did we know there was an issue with the truck? We tell him the truck sent us an email, and we took it from there. For those experiencing that for the first time, they’re blown away.”

According to Mages, the easy to use system has allowed the company to significantly reduce its tows in 2016. “We figure each tow costs between $1,500 and $2,000 when you factor in the cost of the tow, the repair, and lost utilization,” he said.

Mages said the strides that Dart has taken this year with remote diagnostics has been great, “but they’re just our first steps. The coming years are really going to be exciting. As the trucks we have with remote diagnostics age, the information the trucks provide will allow us even better decision making and cost savings. We will be able to collect a vast amount of data and use this in trend analysis, plus we’re going to integrate remote diagnostics into our fleet maintenance software. I can’t wait to see where all of this is in five years from now. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.”

Founded in 1934 as a family-owned business, Dart Transit Company has grown to become one of America’s largest and most successful truckload dry van carriers. Dart has many operating choices for owner operators, and trucks are available for lease or purchase through Highway Sales, Inc., a truck and finance vendor. Flexible terms make it easy for most professional truck drivers to qualify.

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Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World’s Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth's Internet home page is at Kenworth is a PACCAR company.