Daimler Trucks North America connects the dots with truck sensors and service apps

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Every Daimler Trucks North America truck sold over the last two years has been equipped with a sensor that sends information about the truck to the company's call center if it detects an abnormality, said Dieter Haban, chief information officer of Daimler Trucks North America, during a panel at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium held here Wednesday.

If an irregularity is noted, the call center informs the driver whether he or she needs to have maintenance work performed.

"It's like driving around with a bunch of virtual technicians," Haban observed.

Daimler Trucks North America's truck brands include Detroit Diesel, Freightliner, Thomas Built Buses and Western Star.

Haban relates that if there is a major problem with the truck, Daimler notifies the driver and the nearest dealer, looks up whether the parts needed to repair the truck are available and schedules a service appointment with the dealer. The company provides a service app that tells the dealer when the truck arrives and pulls up the information on the truck and the company. The repairs are done while the driver waits.

"So we connect all those dots and deliver a good customer experience," he explains.

Sanjay Sarma, director of digital learning at MIT, told the panel that that there is an "incredible opportunity" with the Internet of Things (IoT). "We are at the beginning of putting everything on the Internet." Unfortunately, there is no overarching paradigm or architecture to enable IoT. "Until that happens, we are groping the dark," he warned.

Chris Kuntz, senior director of business development at ThingWorx, explained that IoT is "not just about connecting a smart device and capturing data, it's about what do you do with that data, how do you integrate with your business process to effect change," he said. "People have begun to embrace the ability to not only enhance existing business processes but create new ones," he added.

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