Volvo CE showcases the next generation of fleet management

By |  November 14, 2018
The Volvo Uptime Center in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, takes about 1,000 phone calls per month, aiming to reduce downtime for customers. Photo courtesy of Volvo CE

The Volvo Uptime Center in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, takes about 1,000 phone calls per month, aiming to reduce downtime for customers. Photo courtesy of Volvo CE

How will next-generation telematics shape the way aggregate producers work?

This, along with a series of other questions, was explored at Volvo Construction Equipment’s intimate “Building Tomorrow” trade press gathering at the company’s North American headquarters in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.

For Volvo CE, telematics done right means changing the nature of how business is done on the manufacturer, dealer and producer levels. It means manufacturers and dealers taking on a greater responsibility for machine monitoring, as well as investing in people who can decipher the raw data for producers and react to a flood of alarm codes for them.

“It’s a journey to go from being a reactive organization to one where you call a customer proactively and sell them that service,” says Ryan White, product manager of connected services at Volvo CE. “It’s changed not only the way our dealers think, but how their customers think and service their machines.”

Tech evolution

Headshot: Stephen Roy

Roy

Telematics is nothing new to the aggregate industry at this stage. Volvo CE’s Care Track program, for example, was introduced as an offering way back in 2007.

Over the last decade, though, everyone involved in the process of capturing, managing and reacting to data learned some key things about what works and what doesn’t.

“Customers don’t want someone to send them a code,” says Dave Foster, vice president of marketing and communications at Volvo CE. “They want us to tell them what they need to do.”

Producers aren’t interested in getting bogged down with thousands or tens of thousands of datapoints. They want information in plain text, and they want it organized from high-priority issues they must react to immediately to lower priorities like service planning.

“Machines send you more data than you’ve ever imagined,” says Stephen Roy, president of the Americas sales region at Volvo CE. “We have to be better at managing the finite data. The customer cares about what’s going to make his machine more efficient.”

To maximize efficiency, Volvo CE now sends some specific equipment details to dealers and other information directly to customers. The company is taking the primary management of data out of customers’ hands through ActiveCare Direct, a service launched in 2017 that bundles 24/7 machine monitoring into one reporting service that’s designed to provide fleet managers the most essential information to make decisions about their equipment.

Volvo CE built an “uptime team” to support the service. The team is made up of people who have a broad scope of equipment expertise. It works closely with dealer service techs and field mechanics to solve problems in mere minutes while reducing the time machines are down.

Volvo’s uptime team communicates with customers in a variety of ways to maximize customer uptime. Photo courtesy of Volvo CE

Volvo’s uptime team communicates with customers in a variety of ways to maximize customer uptime. Photo courtesy of Volvo CE

According to Rhys Eastham, director of Volvo CE’s uptime and technical services, his team uses a range of modern technologies – FaceTime, for example – to interact with customers, diagnose problems and get equipment back up and running.

“We get about 1,000 phone calls per month,” says Eastham, noting that not every phone call is made through the lens of ActiveCare Direct. “About 700 are technical cases.”

Through this approach, machine downtime is down to about 1.4 working days, Eastham adds. About a year ago, the average downtime for customer machines was four days.

Firsthand accounts

At the Volvo CE trade press event, Tony Brignoli, co-owner and vice president of Saltmarsh Industries, shared his experience using ActiveCare Direct.

Brignoli is very hands-on with the service, utilizing it to manage his fleet of equipment.

Jim Bretz, director of uptime and connected services at Volvo CE, dives into ActiveCare Direct during this fall’s trade press event. Photo: Kevin Yanik

Jim Bretz, director of uptime and connected services at Volvo CE, dives into ActiveCare Direct during this fall’s trade press event. Photo: Kevin Yanik

“Telematics with Volvo allows me to monitor over email,” says Brignoli, whose company is a small contracting business based in Massachusetts.

Brignoli admits he was not open to adopting telematics before 2015. As Volvo CE’s offering evolved into ActiveCare Direct, he saw some opportunities to leverage it. Now, Brignoli utilizes the service primarily to analyze machine misuse and idle time. The service is a tool from which he can critique operator skill sets.

“It’s great to get an email,” Brignoli says. “If it’s something very severe, the dealership will call me in five to 10 minutes.”

Several dealers at the press event also offered a sense of how ActiveCare Direct is changing their businesses.

“For our service department, we would send a tech out and bring out parts,” says Peter Gaj, a sales representative for western Massachusetts at Tyler Equipment Corp. “This cuts down on our travel time. Before, we could bring out the wrong part. It really reduces our costs and cuts waste time for the dealership.”

Vince Pagano, senior vice president at Highway Equipment Supply Co. who is responsible for three branches in Pennsylvania, describes the service as a “game changer.”

“We’re essentially trying to develop a support department for ActiveCare Direct,” he says.

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