If you’re like most people, you don’t associate trucks with technology. They seem like the most manual vehicles in existence, and their drivers and owners seem rugged and butch – regardless of their gender. It’s a deep-seated stereotype that’s hard to shake, and truckers don’t seem interested in altering perceptions. After all, it does seem like you’d need a large amount of physical bulk and muscle strength to manoeuvre a vehicle of that size.
That said, while you do apply more physicality in driving a truck than – say – a Ferrari, it’s not nearly as laborious as you’d think. Hi-tech components make your drive easier. Things like clutch servos – for instance – make it more facile to engage your clutch, turning that powerhouse foot thrust into a nudge and transferring the force via hydraulics. Technology also makes your truck spare parts in Sydney last longer, saving you thousands.
Macks are popular in the Aussie truck industry, with their powerful engines and distinct design. Their manufacturers aren’t content to rest on their laurels though. They consistently develop ways to improve speed, safety, and longevity. In March 2018, Mack released a system that allows drivers and fleet operators to instantaneously update their Mack trucking systems. It’s called Mack Over The Air.
Live and Over the Air
This remote updating system was launched on March 6th at the annual meeting of the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC). The meeting took place from the 5th to the 8th, and Mack reps were on hand to demonstrate their new tech. Mack Over The Air (yes, it does sound a lot like Mac Air) is part of a pre-existing system of tech specs called Mack Connect.
Mack Connect is a big data hub. It gathers information from trucks, drivers, managers, owners, and mechanics. Often, the data is derived from the truck itself in real-time, while it’s being driven or repaired. This data is analysed and synthesised, developing insights which are then used for product development, with an emphasis on productivity tools and efficiency. Because Mack Over The Air receives and computes data in real-time, it can respond instantly.
As a result, Mack Over The Air has saved up to 500 days of customer time. How? By minimising downtime. Mack Over The Air transmits updates in minutes, instead of taking several days like it did in the past. This means drivers can update their trucks during a snack stop or smoking break, so their uptime is extended. Although it was launched in March, Mack Over The Air has been in live testing since October 2017.
Big data for big trucks
Being software that is driven by big data, Mack Over The Air has accurate stats. Since October, 20 customers have installed it on 3,500 trucks. A total of more than 380 updates have been done, and since they only took a few minutes each, nearly two years of downtime were shaved off. Manny Paradiso is a plant supervisor at Brooklyn Ready Mix. Ten of the company’s cement trucks were being refilled at the depot, and Manny was able to simultaneously update their software for engines and after-treatment.
‘It used to take nearly four days to update my trucks,’ Manny says, ‘but now it takes thirty minutes, so I did all ten in a single day, and all without slowing or stopping concrete work.’ Any Mack Truck can get Mack Over The Air. New trucks get it free for the first two years, and can renew it afterwards. It comes as part of the standard 2-year engine warranty, and includes two updates per vehicle per year, initiated by the customer. They can renew their subscription after two years if they’re happy with it.
A virtual K9 for your truck
Mack Over The Air works in tandem with other software in the Mack Connect series. These include Mack GuardDog, Mack ASIST, and Mack Onecall, a mix of man and machine. Mack Onecall is a team of tech support experts based at the 24/7 Mack Uptime Centre, while GuardDog integrates telematics and ASIST is a service management system.
GuardDog Connect is currently active in 65,000 trucks, monitoring, repairing, and directly updating their systems. It’s native to all Mack trucks, and this consistent attention and evaluation reduces the need for spares by keeping a close digital eye on truck performance. This year, Mack has invested US$2.5 million in technology and increased their Onecall Uptime Centre service staff by half, so we’re keen to see what they’ll come up with next.