"I feel very strongly that it’s important to balance technology with the support of our people."
Senior Vice President of Uptime and Customer Support, on the potential of connected vehicles
Where are we today in terms of connectivity?
“We have gotten very good at connectivity and remote diagnostics, and we continue to develop the technology. We are moving further and further away from the old model of reacting to problems when they happen. Our emphasis is on predicting failures before they happen. We continue to enhance Volvo Remote Diagnostics tremendously, with the ability to diagnose more and more issues. That means customers get more benefit from our technology every day.”
What new technologies does Volvo use today?
“Our newest area of expertise is with Remote Programming, providing download capabilities over the air for the software on our trucks. It performs updates much like your smartphone, adding features and making changes that allow the trucks to be more efficient in their operations.
Another area we’re advancing is Volvo Analytics. It’s simply another step in the advancement of our connected vehicle services. We’re taking the data we receive from the trucks and bringing it back to our customers, saying, ‘this is how your trucks are performing.’ This gives operational data to customers that they never had access to before. And we can pull it in real time and put it in a format that’s quite useful for them.
It makes our people much more of a business resource for our customers. I feel very strongly that it’s important to balance technology with the support of our people. That’s how our customers improve their operations.”
The future seems like it’s coming on quickly. What’s on the horizon?
“The newest technologies, like autonomous vehicles and electrification, are maturing way faster than we could have predicted—even a year ago. What I think that means for customers is that these new technologies will come sooner than we thought, and they’ll have practical applications, with low cost of ownership. These are the things that have typically been a challenge for new technologies, especially when it comes to alternative fuel and powertrain technologies. The costs associated with them are coming down quickly.
Another reason for the accelerated pace is that the world has woken up to the fact that these things are going to happen. Suddenly there’s a lot more investment and a lot more competition among companies developing the newest technologies.”
How will these new emerging technologies be used?
“I think that you’re going to see will be very application specific in terms of the adoption of the various technologies. For example, right now, battery electric vehicles are less practical for coast-to-coast operations. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, it’s just going to happen later. But for pickup and delivery operations—trucks that come home every night—it’s more practical and will happen sooner.
The same is true for autonomous vehicles. Autonomous trucks will begin by operating in a confined, controlled area with specific routes. The technology will arrive sooner in those conditions, because it just makes sense.”
Volvo is putting telematics to work for customers every day. No other manufacturer offers the seamless integration of Volvo Trucks’ ASIST service management tool. It’s a platform linking dealers, customers and Volvo truck specialists through a common interface.
Truck and customer info automatically populates forms at repair centers. Decision makers are notified if critical codes occur. Diagnostic data collected remotely from the vehicle arrives at the repair center before the truck does.
Specialists on hand
The Volvo Uptime Center in Greensboro, NC features approximately 50 truck specialists on call. Customers are guaranteed to speak with a knowledgeable professional.
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