ALWAYS UNDER CONTROL
Scania Industrial Vehicles
Telematic services, such as the ones offered by Scania, guarantee a constant level of safety checks on both loads and drivers
Safety, for both truck and cargo, has greatly benefitted from a remarkable injection of technology. Knowing exactly where a vehicle is, who the driver is, how much fuel is still in the tank and when have cabin and cargo doors been opened is rather simple nowadays. All this is now possible through the vehicle’s on-board electronic network, geo-location systems and remote diagnosis. The subject was dramatically placed under the spotlight following the recent sequence of trucks being driven into crowds, but it encompasses a far wider range of issues (and related solutions).
A complex on-board network
A modern truck is, in all respects, a moving computer with its on-board electronic network overseeing the management of all its components and accessories. Usually based on a Can-Bus system, the on-board control unit turns the data received from the various components into commands for the actuators found all over the vehicle. These networks have evolved along with road safety systems. The ABS, which made use of a rather reduced network, was one of the first examples: the control unit monitored the rolling speed of the wheels and, if necessary, would reduce the pressure on the brake calipers to preventing the wheels from locking. The system still works much in the same way: signal-processing-actuation, but the process is now much longer and more complex. Only the processing time has remained the same: reaction time must in fact be immediate. Safety systems have, in recent years, been joined by a flurry of other systems, among which some are dedicated to guaranteeing the safety of both goods and passengers. We could define them as advanced anti-theft systems, but this would be rather simplistic, and therefore incorrect and a potential source of errors.
All the “Griffin’s” services
Pneurama assessed the current situation with Scania, a true pioneer in this kind of systems. Nowadays, all Scania vehicles come with cutting-edge fleet management systems that include the basic version of a vehicle monitoring service package. Subscription to such service is free of charge and covers the first ten years of life of the vehicle; practically activated by 100% of customers. The system provides a true picture of how the vehicle is being used, with mileage, consumption and driving style. A second level, offered as optional, is dedicated to monitoring services: and includes, beside the basic level, the vehicle’s geo-location. A further package on offer is dedicated to managing tachograph data sparing the company from having to purchase specialized hardware and software. Michele Tenuti, Italscania’s Fleet & Driver Service Manager, explains: “These systems provide very accurate data on a vehicle’s location and conditions, but they should not be considered as mere anti-theft devices, even though they do constitute the perfect basis for a satellite anti-theft system, as they can communicate with specialized third-party systems”. A true anti-theft system, says Tenuti, needs two additional features that can be implemented through management software chosen by the customer: ongoing geo-location, even with the ignition key removed, and 24 hour monitoring service via an operation center. The system offered by the Swedish manufacturer can also activate many other alarms and warning signals, such as open cabin doors and, as an upcoming update, also cargo doors.
The satellite system marks roads, speeds, stops and everything that defines the route, making it possible to keep track of the vehicle and receive warning messages that indicate any deviation from the expected route. Thus, identifying a stolen vehicle becomes much easier, not to mention a driver who, in bad faith, delivers goods to a place other than the actual destination. Furthermore, Can-Bus data can also detect diesel theft: a sudden drop in the fuel level while stationary is a clear evidence of an anomaly. Through the Scania Management Portal the customer is made aware of the vehicle’s data, and if a company, as is often the case, has a management app to use in organizing deliveries, driver shifts and vehicle maintenance, the relative information is provided automatically and in a format compatible with the management system.
Avoiding improper use
“A vehicle locking system in case of theft”, continues Tenuti, “is not part of the current Scania offer, but adding one to our system is quite easy: it is possible, in fact, to intervene remotely on the control unit as we have been able to do for some time now with Telediagnosis”. Troubleshooting a vehicle without having to take it to a workshop, but simply connecting the on-board network to diagnostic devices through a transmitter like a smartphone, has been possible for some time now and has greatly increased repair work efficiency. Not only that, in fact a number of components can be managed in remote through dedicated apps for smartphones and tablets. Admittedly, it will not be possible to block the engine of a vehicle for safety reasons, but it is certainly possible to prevent it from starting, and this method can prove highly effective. It might not be able to prevent the theft of the truck or its load, but it will certainly prevent a truck from becoming a deadly weapon.
Scania’s telematic offer
Real-time vehicle tracking, coaching by an experienced trainer and remote diagnosis through an official service network are three of the most popular Scania telematic solutions among the customers. Vehicle location data, gathered at intervals of ten minutes, is included in a report that the company can download from the portal. Coaching, on the other hand, focuses on reducing fuel consumption and obtaining real time analysis of travelling parameters (engine revs, gear position….) by an experienced trainer who has a deep knowledge of the on-board systems and their influence on fuel consumption; correcting, if necessary, the driving style can result in a 10% reduction of fuel consumption. Remote diagnosis does more than just detect malfunctions (providing for prompt intervention with the right tools and spare parts); it makes predictive maintenance possible, which enhances the vehicle’s efficiency (uptime) reducing the downtime due to unforeseen mechanical failure. Tailor made parameter reading, as we have seen, makes monitoring every aspect of the vehicle’s management system possible; a number of functions are available for smartphones and even smartwatches. The app to access Scania’s management portal is free and available for Apple as well as Android devices.