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August 20, 2011

Freightliner Parts When and Where You Need Them

At a press briefing last week, Freightliner managers talked about changes to the company and product that make Freightliner the “Undisputed Market Leader.” Among the deliverables that guarantee this position is service support. John O’Leary, Freightliner senior vice president for aftermarket says the organization not only supports the brand, but because of the wide offering of remanufactured parts in the parts program, it has contributed to the corporate sustainability goals. For example, Freightliner’s glider business accounted for 2,700 units last year.

Gliders are a new rolling chassis without an engine, and they’re offered for assembly with a remanufactured Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine. When assembled and with some tax savings, the glider comes out at around 75% of the cost of a new truck, says O’Leary. However, the interest of late is less to do with the cost savings than fear of the new technologies introduced to comply with EPA2010. With the widespread good experience of those technologies – notably SCR aftertreatment – the market is now much more accepting of new trucks and Freightliner is anticipating a softening in demand for the gliders.

August 19, 2011

The Lowest of the Low

The easy way to establish this blog was to go through a Google site. The bonus, I thought was to get the occasional Google ad. To date this has made me $1.50 in six weeks. These ads appear as if by magic. I have no control and if, when I posted the Ram 3500 story, I was pleased to get a Dodge ad, was that so bad? Do I look professional, or what?

But today I was horrified to see an ambulance-chasing lawyer ad on my own website.

August 17, 2011

Freightliner's Virtual Technician

Operating trucks with the maximum time on the road means top revenue, too, and Freightliner’s commitment to uptime starts with the recently introduced Virtual Technician. Already available as standard on Cascadia models and due to be implemented across the board, Virtual Technician is an application on the truck that watches for engine fault codes.

What makes it special is that it tracks engine data on a rolling minute and captures a snapshot of engine parameters 45 seconds before the code is thrown and 15 seconds after to enable a self-diagnosis of what caused the fault.

When a fault code is recorded, an alert is sent via cell phone to whoever is listed as the recipient – dispatch, equipment manager, CEO, even the fleet's home dealer. At that point, the Detroit Diesel customer care desk is also alerted and a ranking is given to the fault. This can be a 'service info,' which is just an indication that there is something to attend to; a 'service soon' that means a dealer or fleet shop call is necessary but not mission critical; or a 'service now' which calls for immediate action. In the latter case, the Detroit Diesel team responds with suggestions for the nearest service provider so the fleet responder can decide where to have the truck serviced.

August 16, 2011

Measuring Fuel Economy

One of the least accurate measures of fuel economy is the engine ECM data, according to Tim Tindall, director of component sales at Detroit Diesel.

In a detailed presentation during the Freightliner press days in Napa Valley last week, Tindall showed how his company runs fuel economy tests to verify its claim of industry-leading fuel economy. He said the convenience of the ECM fuel reports is far outweighed by the fact that many times the reports are not measures of fuel consumed but mere calculations. Not only do they not measure fuel used, he said, but often the manufacturer may set the software to “aggressively” report fuel consumption.

August 15, 2011

Freightliner’s Low-Cost Leadership

Freightliner has reasserted its “Run Smart” tagline with an uncompromising new campaign to its dealers and to the marketplace. The message ‒ Freightliner is still Running Smart and this philosophy gives it "undisputed market leadership" ‒ is a rallying cry for the company and a slogan the dealers can get behind. And however much other truck companies might dislike it, it's pretty much a statement of how things are.

At a press meeting last week in California's Napa Valley wine country, company officials laid out plans that will differentiate Freightliner from its competition and assure the company stays in the lead. Obvious examples are to be seen in the print advertising and Internet presence that emphasize the trucks and, more importantly, the people who own and operate them. The theme is that operating the trucks from the undisputed market leader is a shortcut to business success.