There’s something to be said about a manufacturer that provides vehicles for our deployed troops. During a time when the military quickly needed a durable, safer alternative to the Humvee, International’s WorkStar spawned the MRAP, proving the heavy-duty WorkStar is truly battle-tested. In the conclusion to International’s Industry Insight, David Hillman joins Carl Webb to discuss OnCommand Connection (OCC) and the heavy-duty WorkStar.
MWS: ONCOMMAND CONNECTION—NAVISTAR’S REMOTE VEHICLE DIAGNOSTIC SYSTEM—IS AN OPEN SOLUTION THAT WORKS WITH ALL MAJOR TELEMATICS PROVIDERS AND IT SEEMS LIKE THE FEATURE WOULD BE A FLEET MANAGER’S DREAM. WHEN DID THE COMPANY REALIZE THIS FEATURE WOULD BE BENEFICIAL TO THE MARKET? WAS IT CUSTOMER-DRIVEN?
There was a lot of customer input. What we’ve found is, when you first talk about that type of technology, it tends to fall into a category similar to telematics. What’s beneficial for the smaller fleets is that it has applicability to customers who aren’t going coast to coast. It allows you to tap into Navistar’s back-office support. It allows a fleet manager to take an unplanned, unscheduled event that results in downtime and turn that into a managed, scheduled maintenance event.
As you mentioned, we offer an open solution with OnCommand Connection. We work with all the major providers, so while OCC works the best with an International product like the DuraStar or WorkStar, you can put it on your entire fleet and get the same basic kind of information. OnCommand Connection takes telematics-type technology a step further. You know the health of a truck in your fleet in comparison to the rest of your fleet. You can get the efficiency improvements of your fleet. You’re able to see a potential fault in a truck and figure out how best to address it proactively.
Customers are saying that when their drivers see a light ping on in the dash, typically one of two reactions occurs: the drivers panic or they ignore it. OCC allows the dispatch office or service manager to have the information in real time. Because of that, the dispatcher or manager can tell the driver that the code is for an upcoming regular service interval—it’s low risk or low priority, so the unit’s driver can keep going.
Alternatively, the dispatch office or service manager can see if the dash light indicates something more severe and, not wanting downstream damage to take place, they can tell the driver to take it in. The dispatcher or manager can tell the driver that there is an International Truck dealer “x” amount of miles ahead who has the parts available on the shelf and an available bay. So, it allows the dispatch office or service manager to have more control and more awareness over what decisions to make to help operate the fleet with minimal downtime.
MWS: ONCOMMAND CONNECTION’S EDUCATION SECTION ADDS A UNIQUE AND HIGHLY USEFUL TOOL FOR FLEET MANAGERS, ESPECIALLY SINCE IT GIVES THEM THE KNOWLEDGE THEY NEED TO FIX THEIR OWN TRUCKS WHEN POSSIBLE. HAVE YOU FOUND THAT THERE IS A HIGH NUMBER OF SELF-SERVICING INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMERS? HOW DO ONCOMMAND CONNECTION’S FEATURES FARE WITH OTHER MANUFACTURERS’ TRUCKS?
When you look at the customers we serve, many of them are self-maintainers. Of course, you have many that rely on their local International dealer for service and support, also. In both cases, OnCommand Connection provides additional information in terms of how to make things more efficient. Many of the fleets we deal with are mixed fleets, with both International trucks and trucks from other manufacturers. OnCommand Connection—because it is this open integration platform—sees the same signals on the J1939 connection, whether it’s on our truck or the competitor’s truck. We have a good understanding of what those signals mean, regardless of whose badge is on the nose.
Fleet managers who have OCC on their entire fleet can better manage the fleet. Now, you can compare fuel economy from one truck to another, you can see driver habits and patterns, you can really start to improve the performance of the fleet.
MWS: THE N13 AVAILABLE IN WORKSTAR HAS A COMPACTED GRAPHITE IRON (CGI) ENGINE BLOCK. WHAT INSPIRED THE PAIRING DECISION?
It’s becoming more and more common, just because there’s something about the manufacturing process that allows the engine to deliver a lot of strength without adding much weight. Within the vocational section, shaving weight is important to maximize payload. So, this CGI manufacturing process allows designers a lot more latitude in terms of taking out unnecessary pounds and retaining the amount of strength you need in a good, strong block. The CGI block has benefits in terms of noise reduction, as well, and is easier to package, since it’s not as big a block. The pairing makes sense in the WorkStar, because CGI allows you to have less weight with high power output. Every pound you save in the chassis is another pound you can put in payload and that’s very attractive to customers.
MWS: THE SAME ENGINEERS AND ASSEMBLY LINES THAT CREATE THE WORKSTAR ALSO CREATE THE MRAPS. WHAT ARE KEY SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WORKSTAR AND MRAP? HOW DOES THAT TRANSLATE TO THE COMMERCIAL INDUSTRY?
WorkStar was introduced in 2001 as the 7000 series. War broke out in earnest in Iraq and in Afghanistan around the same time. In the media, there were reports around how the existing rolling stock for the military was just not able to keep pace with the armory needs.
We had technology with the WorkStar that allowed us to rapidly deploy units that had the strength required to carry armor and the durability needed to survive in those types of environments. The Army and the Marines were the two forces who were really saying that the Humvee with armor plating was never designed to see the sort of conflict that they were experiencing. IEDs weren’t contemplated when Humvee armor was developed.
The military needed a quick response with strength and durability. We were able to answer the call with a high volume, readily available chassis that delivered strength, durability, and maneuverability. Combining that with a technology partner who had armory capabilities resulted in the MRAP. The WorkStar allowed us to respond to the US Military’s—or, essentially, the Dept. of Defense’s—needs to quickly deliver a commercially available platform.
There’s been a lot of emphasis around military members coming back home; there’s a real need to help men and women who have been deployed transition back to the private sector. Many of these folks drove the MRAPs, turned wrenches on them, supported them, or were familiar with them throughout all the logistics. If you take the armor off the MRAP, there’s a lot of commonality between it and the WorkStar in the bones underneath. So, we’re recognizing that military members who have experience with the MRAPs are able to translate that into service, support, and driving WorkStars.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Find out more about WorkStar, OnCommand Connection, and other International products and services, visit www.internationaltrucks.com.
MODERN WORKTRUCK SOLUTIONS: MARCH 2016 ISSUE
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