Predictive Diagnostics is NOT an electronic crystal ball

By The Preteckt Team | November 29, 2017

We knew it would be a challenge to introduce and explain predictive technology. Here are just a few real-world examples of the resistance to a new and improved approach to maintenance and service. It paints a picture of an industry that has seen more than its fair share of snake oil sales.

“I hold up my BS card to you. That sounds like using an electronic crystal ball to tell you when to do maintenance”.

“It’s hogwash. It’s basically the new “big data” way to fleece out money from the business owners. They use fancy words (usually scientific sounding) to convince decision makers on “being prepared”, all while the other hand is pick-pocketing - legally of course - since the business signed a contract to pay for the predictive services”.

“This is no different to ONSTAR - which tells the driver to go to the nearest dealer”

I get it. It’s hard to wrap your head around a computer program that has trained itself to think like a top mechanic. Even though good number of medium to large businesses use our technology and are happy with the results that we are delivering, we still have a lot of work to do to convince the average fleet operator that this really works.

And this is why some days are very challenging for me. So, I thought why not write a blog to address and share this confusion and misunderstanding. Let’s start!

Here’s a real world scenario provided by one of our expert mechanics. Of the human variety.

Take a 2010 or newer truck that has the DPF and SCR on it, for example. You have a regen light that is on and won’t go away. You take it to a mechanic. He’ll need to run a regen and watch the parameters to see why. Say it is a Cummins ISX. The mechanic notices the heat buildup, pressure is good off the turbo, but PPM on the NOx is bouncing around. He removes the HCI to see if it is spraying and can see a caked up mess of dried DEF inside the catalyst. Now, he has to spend the next several hours taking it apart and getting it cleaned out. A Detroit DD series engines will flag a code when that issue starts so the mechanic can unplug the metering valve and run a regen to burn the caked up DEF out of the catalyst and never have to take it apart. Cummins…not so much. The truck isn’t going anywhere and your mechanic just made an easy $1000 if he’s retail, or very aggravated if he’s fleet because that means he has 10 other trucks on the fence with more pressing issues.

What if your mechanic had predictive technology alerting him that the caking was starting? There are various telling signs that show it is occurring. You get good pressure, good heat at the DPF, but bouncing NOx at the outlet with small spike. The computer on the truck sees it, but why no code? The only time that NOx bounces is when you get caking or drift issues, no other times. The reason isn’t just a simple change in the OEM thresholding. The real issue is that it needs to wait for 8 seconds because under normal situations for some type of driving conditions, that NOx bounce is perfectly fine. We watch the NOx bounce, but also ALL of the other sensor values. Our expert mechanics know how it is supposed to be behaving in ANY circumstance and doesn’t have to wait to see that it’s not right. Otherwise, the catalyst is so caked up that there is no choice but to take it apart and clean it now. If your mechanic had Predictive Diagnostics; he would receive the data that alerts him of an issue. He has the capability to resolve that issue while the driver is on down time for the weekend instead of on a hot load to where the driver will now have to sit after getting the load off because the 2 pre-plans after that load are now given to another driver (or company) and there isn’t a load for another 2 days. Oh, and if you’re an owner operator, that next available load pays $2 a mile less and it’s shorter with longer deadhead miles.

Preteckt’s predictive technology simply uses the data that is already there, on the trucks, to the advantage of the owner by predicting when issues occur. Trucks don’t just one day break down, they all show signs of the breakdown days or weeks prior. The technology is being used to “document” when those “signs” show and inform you of what was seen.

I don’t know about you, but I feel it’s time to use the technology to our own advantage instead of the OEMs getting all of the advantages. Let’s start keeping that money in owner and driver pockets versus the dealer shop pockets.

… to be continued (In-depth with Predictive Technology and Predictive Maintenance versus Preventive Maintenance)