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Navistar will use Platform Science’s open architecture to enhance telematics

Navistar International is stepping up its telematics offerings to keep fleet customers in the know about what’s happening with their trucks, and the manufacturer is getting access to the data, too.

After announcing at the recent Work Truck Show that it is making its OnCommand telematics program free for five years on newly built Class 6-8 trucks and buses, the Lisle, Illinois-based Navistar named Platform Science Virtual Vehicle technology as its choice to let fleets directly access telematics, software fixes, real-time vehicle data and third-party applications.

The digital enhancement is a blank canvas that fleets can use to manage and deploy information most relevant to their businesses. Daimler Truck North America was the first manufacturer to sign on to factory installation of the service in 2020.

“Virtual Vehicle allows us to expand the power of our connected services platform OnCommand Connection to maximize the value of data for our customers,” Chet Ciesielski, vice president of Navistar’s On-Highway Heavy Duty Truck Business, said in a press release.

Navistar will begin deploying Virtual Vehicle in 2023. Among its benefits, according to Platform Science:

  • Productivity — With factory-installed telematics hardware, which Navistar is offering free for five years, fleets can maximize uptime by avoiding installation delays and costs for complementary hardware.
  • Flexibility — Virtual Vehicle allows fleets to curate software to individual business needs via existing and new developer-created innovations.
  • Accessibility — Virtual Vehicle leverages edge, cloud and in-dash data to make the most of networks, including round-the-clock data availability even when fleets are offline. 
  • Cost — Customers pay only for what they use of applications accessed by Virtual Vehicle.

Range of integrated apps

“The Virtual Vehicle platform brings a wide range of integrated Android fleet apps to customers, giving fleets choice and providing them with total flexibility to select the software solutions they need without the burden and expense of adding new hardware to access new apps,” said Jake Fields, Platform Science co-founder and chief technology officer.

One major fleet customer sees advantages in the maintenance area.

“This level of connectivity between service providers simplifies the maintenance process and helps us operate more effectively,” said Tony Wahl, director of equipment purchasing for Werner Enterprises.

Setting the stage

Navistar set the stage for the Platform Science announcement at the Truckload Carriers Association meeting in Las Vegas by the earlier announcement of a five-year subscription — valued at $1,300 — of OnCommand Connection, which aggregates vehicle health and performance data from more than 30 telematics partner integrations.

Virtual Vehicle broadcasts data to OnCommand Connection as part of a “seamless customer experience,” said Scott Renier, Navistar vice president and general manager of connected services and analytics.

“Big data has got to be big and involve everyone,” Renier told FreightWaves at the Work Truck Show in Indianapolis.

“We first made OnCommand Connection standard on our Class 8 on-highway vehicles in 2018, providing those customers access to a full suite of connected products that help to improve uptime and lower their total cost of ownership,” he said.

OnCommand features over-the-air programming vehicle software updates for approved engine calibrations and performance parameter update; vehicle health monitoring that can help identify issues and allow customers to take the appropriate action; GPS and geofencing for asset tracking and protection; and access to the International 360 service communications platform to streamline and customize service scheduling based on vehicle use.

“Traditionally, people think connectivity and data analytics are only for big, over-the-road fleets,” said Mark Stasell, Navistar vice president of vocational trucks. “Navistar believes connected technologies benefit everyone.”

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes Werner Enterprises (No. 10) and Western Express (No. 36).