The COVID-19 pandemic has left a trail of disruption across the automotive industry globally, which has brought into focus the importance of digital technologies
The auto industry’s progression towards integration of multiple domains such as connected vehicles and V2V communication, among others, only accentuates the significance of digitalisation going forward. VE Commercial Vehicles (VECV) has introduced a 100 % connected vehicle services with its Eicher Live solution aimed at modernising commercial vehicles in India. Vinod Aggarwal, MD & CEO, VECV, threw more light on how it intends to increase customer profitability with its comprehensive trucking solution.
Logistics costs in India represent around 13 % of the GDP, as against 5 % in developed nations. The commercial vehicle (CV) industry is in dire need of productivity improvements. Vehicle connectivity has largely been a forte of passenger vehicles, but the CV segment is gradually witnessing penetration of advanced connected technologies. VECV has adopted Volvo Group’s advanced telematics technology and tied up with an Indian hardware supplier to develop a 100 % connected vehicle technology. The company will be operating an advanced hybrid cloud infrastructure that has been jointly created with a global IT major to store data locally in the country for quick data reference during analytics.
VECV has three focussed pillars – fuel coaching, uptime services and asset utilisation – that will jointly serve as the connected vehicle solution for customers, while tracking the real time performance of vehicles via a satellite. As fuel continues to constitute 50 % of the vehicle’s total cost of ownership, VECV’s engineers have developed a fuel coaching system that guides drivers to maximise sweet-spot driving as well as improve driving habits for as much as 10 % fuel savings, using the intelligent driver information system placed on the dashboard. The driver will also be imparted online training as well as owners will get reports how his driver is performing, how much time the engine was idling during the trip as every drop of fuel counts, said Aggarwal.
With BS 6 norms in place, the company feels that vehicles need to be dealt with extra care to ensure their wheels keep rolling, while avoiding significant downtime. Under the 100 % connected services, the specialised team at VECV Uptime Centre at the Pithampur facility is equipped to monitor vehicle performance 24x7 and take control of the vehicles regardless of their condition – on-road side, in service centre or in running condition – to offer remote diagnostics and avoid costly repairs at a later stage. The system is connected to computer area network (CAN), the electronics backbone of the truck that enables the system to have access to vehicle data generated by sensors, electronic control units and any exceptions through fault codes.
The data sourced from the vehicles is put into the engine software programme and subsequently analysed to predict the driver and vehicle behaviour as well as avoid product failure while dynamically organising service plans. There is a strong possibility that the driver is guided by the uptime service support executive even before the service van reaches the truck driver, Aggarwal pointed out. In certain cases, VECV has registered over 20 % enhancement in truck operation using uptime services and aims to raise predictive vehicle maintenance that will enable avoiding a potential product failure moving forward. Eicher Live connected vehicle services also allows the fleet owner to track the vehicle on his mobile phone or computer.
A vehicle’s electronic content is at an all-time high with BS 6 norms and requires a lot of skill development at the manpower level to ensure vehicle servicing. This would allow a technician at any VECV workshop pan India to connect with the centre online for expert guidance in case he gets stuck somewhere. VECV has also used the BS 6 opportunity to integrate its entire dealer network and workshops on a standard platform, which is directly connected for transparency, in terms of parts availability across all dealerships. The company has also ramped up its partnerships with suppliers for quicker replacement of parts directly serviced by them as well as tracking the overall process from the time ticket is raised to standard time taken to deliver a healthy product.
Tracking a CV in real time has always been challenging for fleet operators, and with 100 % connected vehicle services, Eicher’s new system intelligently analyses the exact vehicle location as it travels anywhere in the country. Every trip can now be planned with routes and stops along with live route alerts to monitor idle and running time of vehicles under the Eicher Live programme, noted Aggarwal. This will not only ensure cargo safety but also of passengers, and is best suited for the e-commerce segment as well as school buses. For generating maximum out of the technology, the system has been designed in a way that it can also be retrofitted in the existing BS 4 range of vehicles for increased efficiency.
The overall economy continues to undergo a painful phase as certain pockets of the country still remain under lockdown mode. The introduction of BS 6 has already increased vehicle prices by 8-15 % (depending on the segment) and VECV has decided not to pass on the burden to the customers and assured that connected vehicle services will remain free of cost at least for the next two years. The team at VECV is already in talks with service providers for long-term agreements and is aiming to keep connectivity charges at not more than Rs 5,000 annually.
Aggarwal harped on the importance of the total cost of ownership and create awareness about the benefits offered under the new services as a customer won’t buy unless they don’t understand the value proposition. Such value propositions will enable companies to grow faster as the economy gradually gets back on track later this year from the upcoming festive season, he concluded.
TEXT: Anirudh Raheja