Panasonic Connect

Enhancing service with mobile technology

Jan. 8, 2024
Mobile service requires mobile technology, not only increasing technician efficiency, but allowing fleet managers to optimize maintenance operations.

Over the years, the demand for quick shipping has skyrocketed, leaving little room for downtime in the trucking industry. With high expectations from buyers, companies can’t afford transportation hiccups.

A key contributor to downtime is vehicle breakdowns, which on average, cost companies around $760 per day, not to mention unwanted shipping delays which can lead to poor service experiences. Fleets need to be maintained at the highest level to reduce downtime. And if problems do arise, technicians need to get on-site quickly. However, with the increasing complexity of vehicle technology, assessing, diagnosing, and servicing vehicle malfunctions takes on a new dynamic.

Today, 30% of maintenance managers' report challenges with staffing skilled technicians. To maintain high productivity levels while combating labor and skill shortages, technicians need a balance of reliable mobile computing with the ability to stay connected. Tools like laptops, 2-in-1s, and tablets alongside the right software are the key to faster, more reliable, and predictive maintenance.  

Mobile solutions: Empowering technicians on-the-go  

The shortage of technicians means more vehicles to service per technician every day. With their plates already full, technicians don’t have time to make long drives to service breakdowns and then spend hours on-site trying to diagnose the problem. But with vehicle diagnostics and remote monitoring software, diagnostic time per job is decreasing.

Vehicle diagnostic and remote monitoring software communicate directly with sensors in trucks. If a problem arises, in some cases, the sensors automatically send an alert to the technicians, helping them understand the issue before arriving on-site. With rugged mobile devices, workers can bring this data with them, eliminating the need for trial-and-error diagnostics in the field.

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Beyond vehicle diagnostics, software on mobile rugged devices also provides key data points specific to the vehicles being serviced. This includes logs of past maintenance operations, which can help technicians gather a holistic understanding of what might have caused the issue at hand. Other useful documentation, like make and model logistics, can also be pulled to ensure technicians have the proper parts and tools.

Another key component to vehicle diagnostic and remote monitoring software is its ability to determine failure rates and establish a profile and service history for the vehicle. This helps technicians proactively service vehicles thanks to predictive maintenance suggestions. As a result, technicians can service vehicles before issues occur, reducing the need for emergency repairs.

Connectivity and mobility go hand-in-hand

The ability to access key data points is crucial to streamlining operations. However, data’s full potential is only possible with connectivity. With fleet routes throughout the country, service needs are often required in rural regions of the country. Mobile devices with built-in 4G and 5G capabilities give technicians access to the data on their mobile devices, even if they’re not in areas with strong Wi-Fi or local connection. Integrated connectivity also enables technicians to easily collaborate with off-site mechanics via videoconferencing. If a technician needs a second opinion or to communicate if backup is needed, they easily can.

The benefits of connectivity are significant even after repair. A key component to technicians’ jobs is reporting and logging. The only way for technicians to accurately develop vehicle history portfolioswhich are crucial to developing predictive maintenance schedulesis if they’re able to log details when they’re fresh. That means logging while still on the scene, improving efficiency. With connectivity, technicians can use their rugged mobile devices to upload schematics and keep track of real-time info, ensuring that they capture all necessary data points to help solve future problems without having to wait until later. This improves both the accuracy of information and the worker’s experience, eliminating the need for them to work long hours.

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Beyond on-site benefits, connectivity also expands remote diagnostic and repair capabilities. Technicians can use their rugged laptops to videoconference with drivers to advise on small maintenance issues. Or for software problems, they can connect directly to the software system on their rugged devices and use repair software to update vehicle dashboards remotely from service bays.

The rugged way is the right way

Mobile devices offer connectivity, data capture, and visibility to allow technicians to provide seamless support. However, they can only harness these benefits if the mobile device is dependable. Working on-the-go, technicians need devices that can handle dust and dirt, plus long hours spent in hot cars or early morning travel in the freezing cold. Rugged devices are a necessity, braving almost any wear and tear they’re put through.

Rugged mobile devices also provide technicians with optimized battery life, multifactor security, and customizability. With replaceable battery packs, technicians can go long hours without a charge, making sure they consistently have access to key data points while on the move. With multi-factor security, technicians and fleet managers can ensure they keep equipment diagnostics and remote monitoring tools secure.

Benefits for fleet managers

By putting rugged, connected mobile devices into the hands of technicians, fleet managers are increasing service efficiency in the field and the back office. When technicians have access to mobile devices, fleet managers have more visibility into technician and field activity, as well as their whereabouts. With insight into technician activity, fleet managers can better understand where the greatest demand is needed and schedule and hire personnel accordingly.

Like with technicians, mobile devices also serve as data banks for fleet managers. For example, a vehicle’s sensor data also uploads onto their devices, which helps them determine fleet vehicle counts, gain a better understanding of how to optimize assets, see where the company is over- or underspending in the field, see where bottlenecks are slowing down field work, and schedule maintenance before small issues cause downtime.

Ultimately, equipping technicians with mobile devices improves collaboration, efficiency, and productivity for both maintenance teams and fleet managers. Combatting the labor shortage and meeting and minimizing breakdown needs is possible when technicians have greater visibility and access to diagnostics, vehicle services, and remote capabilities via rugged mobile devices.

Michael Trafton is a business development manager for Panasonic Connect North America. He has deep knowledge of and experience with technology solutions and applications for the enterprise space. He develops and implements strategic business plans to support and grow Panasonic Connect’s business, with customer relationship management and customer experience at the core.

About the Author

Michael Trafton

Michael Trafton is a business development manager for Panasonic Connect North America. He has deep knowledge of and experience with technology solutions and applications for the enterprise space. He develops and implements strategic business plans to support and grow Panasonic Connect’s business, with customer relationship management and customer experience at the core.