How to Deal with On-Board Diagnostics

On-board diagnostics tools reduce downtime and alert fleet managers of trouble on the way. They can identify the location of a machine, tell you whether it is being operated or not, if it needs servicing, or if a breakdown is impending. On the downside, the sheer amount of information makes analysis overwhelming.

Top tools are impressively versatile. For example, the EDL kit by John Deere can be used to diagnose construction, agricultural, and forestry equipment produced by the company. The biggest challenge is turning the output into usable knowledge, so the managers can understand when they must take urgent action.

Turning Data into Graphs

Suppose you have to assess the productivity of several 20-ton excavators. Fuel accounts for a large portion of the variable costs, so you could take the average fuel consumption per vehicle and plot it against the number of swings from the trench. You would get a visual aid that your operations manager can easily understand.

Fleet Managers’ Perspective

For fleet managers, turning data into knowledge is entirely different. An expert has the data, the software, and the hardware to retrieve it. However, not every piece of information points to a specific problem. Every technician must therefore be trained to understand what they are looking at.

Why Training Is a Must

Data show symptoms but does not always point to the root cause. Training is not only mandatory but it should also be approached from several vantage points. Technicians may:

  • be trained by the dealership employees,
  • get guidance concerning any updates, and
  • use the OEM software on their laptops.

Systems with wireless connection let specialists diagnose equipment without operating it. A technician does not have to get into the cab to understand what is going on. The software lets them monitor the equipment in real time, getting all the necessary data.

How to Handle Mixed-Fleet Diagnostics

The key problem for fleet managers is the absence of standardization among big-name brands. If the fleet uses machines from different manufacturers, every OEM requires a proprietary on-board diagnostic system, and you cannot install all of this software on the same computers.

John Deere has come up with a telematic solution for customers with mixed fleets. JDLink can feed four different sensor inputs into the Standard system. You could also go with the numbers if you generally have equipment of one brand. The “equipment triangle” formed by strong ties between OEM, dealer and end-user can also solve the problem.

Communicate with Your Customers

Ideally, dealers must be knowledgeable enough to act as a consultant. Meanwhile, their customers should also tell them what they want. Fleet managers need an open channel of feedback, so they know what is working, and what improvements must be made. A strong relationship between a dealer and fleet manager is crucial. This way, you have access to more information, and when the dealer sends someone out to service a machine, there are no delays.

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