Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with the editors at Diesel Progress about the evolving role of IoT in modern truck and engine design, the manufacturing process, and maintenance. We touched on a variety of different topics and real-world scenarios during our conversation, and the range of potential benefits IoT presents for OEMs still amazes me. Of all the use cases we discussed, the challenges surrounding error conditions really stood out. The subject came up multiple times, so I wanted to highlight a few examples where the right connected technology can make all the difference.

When an event triggers a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) in an electronic control module (ECM) connected to one of the hundreds of sensors found in a modern diesel engine, there are financial implications for all parties involved. Pulling a truck off the road for service creates warranty costs for manufacturers, and downtime where drivers and fleets are unable to earn revenue. That said, this precautionary service is still less expensive than dealing with costly emergency repairs. Both cases underscore the importance of understanding the meaning behind DTCs in heavy-duty trucking.

Properly setting thresholds for these error codes is a difficult, constantly moving target for engineers. Set the bar too low, and false positives lead to frequent, unnecessary service. Set the bar too high, and you risk expensive, unexpected failure events. But issuing multiple running calibrations to increase threshold accuracy is expensive for OEMs, and inconvenient for operators.

Additionally, DTCs themselves do not provide much context. They report on a single condition (e.g. high engine coolant temperature) but fail to provide insight on the circumstances causing that condition. Often, there are several individual factors, as well as countless combinations of factors, that can trigger a single DTC – many of which do not require immediate attention. Likewise, DTCs can also represent a variety of, often disparate, factors that contribute to a failure event – which obviously requires immediate attention.

With that much at stake, the potential benefits of automating the analysis of DTCs and surrounding operational data are massive, including improved uptime, reliability, and MTTR. Yet, most OEMs and operators have not deployed the level of technology necessary to effectively connect the design, manufacture, and management of truck fleets. Still, progressive companies that have embraced industrial IoT are beginning to reap the rewards. For additional details, as well as information on a real-world IoT- OEM use case, check out the full article here.