The truck that thinks for itself

The truck that thinks for itself

Vehicles that think for themselves! For many this might sound like a futuristic, space-age fantasy, but for those in the know, this concept is already a reality in the products on the market from top commercial vehicle manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz Trucks.

Thanks to the progressive business philosophy of Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA), it is now possible for your truck to tell you when it needs a service!

Effective May 1, all Mercedes-Benz Actros models sold with a CharterWay contract will include an enhanced maintenance package utilising the Telligent Maintenance system.

The first truck manufacturer to introduce this product in South Africa, Mercedes-Benz Trucks (a Daimler Truck and Buses brand) is changing the maintenance and servicing mentality in the country. Moving away from pre-set service intervals, this product makes individualised service intervals possible by taking its cue from the actual wear and tear on the vehicle.

The truck is designed to monitor the condition of the engine oil, transmission oil, axle oil and general service components such as air filters, fuel filters and brake pads – based on the operating conditions of the vehicle.

This ensures optimum utilisation of operating fluids and service parts without risk to the service life or reliability of the engine and driveline. The Telligent Maintenance system stores information about faults, but only alerts drivers if they need to take action.

The 2013 State of Logistics Survey for South Africa, published by the Council for Scientific and Industry Research (CSIR), attributes increased logistics costs in the economy to be a factor of “a disproportionate growth in cost drivers – especially fuel”. Logistics costs of R393 billion in 2012, escalated to R423 billion in 2013, and the CSIR forecasts this to stand at R456 billion in 2014.

Product manager at Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Christo Kleynhans, confirms that the company’s consistent focus on lower total cost of ownership for its customers has led to innovations such as Telligent Maintenance.

“Fuel and maintenance are the two most prominent cost-drivers for a customer. We already have many innovations in our trucks that address the first concern, and now the Telligent Maintenance system also adds to the value-added products that address maintenance costs,” Kleynhans says. No two Mercedes-Benz Actros customers have exactly the same wear and tear on their trucks, due to the wide variety of applications in which these versatile trucks can be used.

Telligent Maintenance tells the driver, or truck owner, exactly what needs to be serviced, and when. This leads to less time spent in the workshop, and more time where the truck and driver are productive. Effective usage of the system can realise a saving of up to 14 percent in service costs.

Optimal results will be realised if Telligent Maintenance is used in conjunction with FleetBoard, the benchmark vehicle management and tracking system provided by MBSA. Over an 18-month period, from 2011 to 2013, Fleetboard registered a combined savings of over R6 million and uptime savings of 2 658 hours, in 658 cases.

FleetBoard provides impartial, comparable data from all vehicles of a customer’s fleet. The system provides an overview of the mileage, operational status, fuel consumption and deployment profiles of the drivers at one glance, including an evaluation of the overall driving styles. This will enable the fleet manager to determine the causes of high consumption and promptly address them to ensure correct deployment of the truck, thus increasing the economic efficiency of the fleet.

From an environmental point of view, the Telligent Maintenance system also scores “brownie points” for the manufacturer and the truck owner. Less frequent oil and filter changes equate to less of these items contributing to pollution.

For an Actros to qualify for this unique value offering, it simply needs to be activated on either the CharterWay BestBasic or CharterWay Service Complete contracts, available at the nearest dealership.

However, cancellation of the CharterWay contract will result in the vehicle returning to fixed service intervals. Although this offer applies to vehicles sold with effect from May 1, trucks sold on a CharterWay Contract prior to that are eligible to be converted to a Telligent Maintenance Contract backdated to January 1.

“Daimler Truck and Buses prioritises Research and Development, a primary reason why Mercedes-Benz Trucks is able to bring innovative cost of ownership solutions to our customers and remain a leader in the industry,” Kleynhans concludes.

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