What happens when you drive your fancy, luxurious car and realise that it has suddenly stalled because of some mechanical or electrical failure? Simple, you just call your mechanic or your car company call centre and ask for help. Mechanics either repair it or in a more serious case scenario tow away the car to the nearest workshop.
But what happens in an unfortunate scenario when your car crashes and you are hurt in some manner? Many modern cars today come with sensors that get activated in case of an accident and transmit a distress call to the nearest call centre, which in turn ensures quick medical help through an ambulance service.
You might think car drivers and owners are very fortunate to have access to these efficient services. You may even, in absolute ignorance, presume that truck and bus drivers in India are the “poor chaps” who can never dream of availing such fancy services. Well, if that is the case, it’s time for you to wake up and smell the coffee! Because at Eicher Trucks & Buses, a business unit of VE Commercial Vehicles(VECV), the services are at par with car companies or to be more honest, even better. All this thanks to the company's Uptime Centre situated in Pithampur, Madhya Pradesh.
VECV currently offers one of the widest product ranges, from 4.9T to 55T GVW trucks and 12-72-seater buses. All these products conform to the BS VI emission norms.
Motown India’s journalists were invited by VECV to their Uptime Centre to understand the significance of the critical services provided by this VECV unit manned by qualified engineers and mechanics, well versed in several languages. What goes behind the walls of this Uptime Center?
Experts at this 24X7 state-of-the-art control room are fully equipped to remotely monitor vehicles and provide real-time support to the Eicher trucks and buses being attended at Eicher’s Uptime Certified workshops across the country. The Uptime experts are also capable of proactively monitoring truck data to help predict potential failures before they occur irrespective of time and place. Thanks to the immense innovation in technology and proprietary predictive analytics, Eicher’s Uptime Center ensures that its fleet of trucks plying on Indian roads is up and running without any glitches.
As of now, the Uptime Centre has become an integral part of Eicher's after-sales service network. It is seamlessly integrated with Eicher's rapidly expanding nationwide dealership and workshop network, comprising over 800 touchpoints. These touchpoints include sales and service outlets, on-site support locations, parts retailers, and trained technicians across all the major highways of the country. The Uptime Centre's connectivity with vehicles, dealers, and workshops enables efficient communication and coordination, facilitating timely repairs, parts availability, and service support.
Through this 24x7 Uptime Centre, the company has pioneered next-gen service solutions like remote and predictive diagnostics. As a result of these and several other critical and crucial services, the company is now able to deliver more than 98% uptime in all major transport segments in all parts of India.
Technological innovativeness at its best
The Uptime Centre offers a range of features and benefits to enhance the overall service ecosystem. Eicher’s focus is also on giving its customers more control and transparency to its customer through the My Eicher app. My Eicher app is a first-in-industry digital platform that seamlessly integrates Eicher trucks and buses with Eicher fleet owners, fleet managers, drivers, dealers and service points. This new platform has the convenience of conducting business at its core, which is experienced through important aspects like fleet management, uptime management, fuel management, and a whole new set of value-added services.
Explains Ramesh Rajagopalan, Executive Vice President, Customer Service & Network Strategy, VE Commercial Vehicles Ltd, “With the commencement of BS VI emission norms we decided to have 100pc of our vehicles connected. They are connected through a full company paid subscription for the first two years. After two years it has to be renewed. At the Uptime Centre we offer multiple services like we have a command centre which takes care of remote diagnostics, we offer technical support to the dealership teams, we offer 24x7 roadside assistance, but the most defining moment came in the connectivity itself. We could predict a lot of failures. Before 2020, it was purely a reactive support. If a driver or a dealer called up, we would support them based on the technical nature.
“With BS VI and the fully connected vehicles, we were able to move towards the pro active method. A lot of technical information comes to us from the vehicle and we process that in a way we are able to predict the failure. We can thus call the customer and tell him of the possible failure of the vehicle and that we would like to attend the vehicle. We have a complete end to end solution. We pass on the call to the dearest dealership and our mobile service van which is also equipped with our telematics system. The essence here is time. We have to fix the problem. We send the technician with the right part to fix the problem.”
Rajagopalan says that the essence of the Uptime Centre service is to ensure that the problem being faced by a truck or bus driver is resolved immediately. “Many times when the vehicles are getting serviced at the dealership, the technician may not be competent enough to solve the problem all by himself. He needs help. So through the app (My Eicher) he can call the Uptime Centre where it takes over. They do the trouble shooting on behalf of the technician. They will ask a few more questions to the technician to check a few parameters. With that information we help the technician to fix the problem. The idea is that we use the collective wisdom of the group rather than leaving it to one technician who may have certain limitations. This is the power of using the data, the power of using collective intelligence, so that we can offer the best services to the customer”.
Plethora of services
VECV started the Uptime Centre in April 2019. This is a technology enabled, co located, customer oriented facility at Pithampur (MP) which operates 24x7, providing real time support to channel partners.
The Uptime Centre offers a plethora of services. These include Remote Diagnostic services to resolve electrical issues, parts related support, providing assistance to customers during a breakdown, remote support for dealers to resolve mechanical issues, support service for ancillary repairs, remote diagnostic assistance for mining, avoiding unplanned stops by proactively predicting the vehicle issues (predictive diagnostic services), ensuring connectivity for vehicle fitted with Eicher Live, leveraging data to enhance product and customer experience (Data Analytics), etc.
These 24x7 operations are supported by experts dealing in seven regional languages. There is also an extended centre at Noida on the outskirts of Delhi to provide EOS support 24x7 for breakdown services. There are 600+ connected EOS vans to support customers, committed to reach anywhere in three hours.
But it’s the Predictive Diagnostic Services that are a class apart. There is something called Predictive Critical, which means Stop Now. These are cases where immediate intervention is required to prevent breakdown of vehicle. Situations include engine overheating, engine oil pressure low, DPF 100pc choke, fuel injector short, etc.
Predictive workshop (visit soon) cases are cases where intervention is required but not immediate to prevent breakdown in the near future. These include situations involving SCR Dosing failure, DPF soot load 90% , exhaust temperature , ACM Actuator supply, etc.
Predictive customer cases or Do it yourself cases are those where intervention is required and can be rectified by customer to prevent breakdown or high downtime. These include situations involving DEF tank empty , engine overrun, DEF quality or water in fuel alert.
The Uptime Centre also offers its services in the event of an incident involving the vehicle through an industry first crash alert service. Today, when an incident happens with a vehicle, the event is detected through the Uptime centre and the customer informed. An EOS van reaches the spot and assesses the damage. The insurance company is notified via the Eicher dealer and a real time estimate prepared. A towing service is also deployed after customer concurrence. Now the company will soon be incorporating another service here. This will be an emergency medical service where the nearest medical team would be informed about the incident. The company is in the process of developing it.
How is the entire system connected?
“All our dealerships are operating on our same IT system, like the way banks are connected. That is the nerve centre for us. All our mobile service vans are also connected to the Uptime Centre. The connection is done by a telematics device. It’s like a mobile phone that is attached to the vehicle itself. It's a small plug on device that has a SIM card and is connected to the mobile network. There is a module that is communicating to us. it can also communicate to the vehicle. The vehicle has an ECU, so a lot of parameters of the vehicle which is displayed on the dashboard like speed, fuel level, oil level, oil pressure, this information is also fed into the telematics device from where we are able to extract the information,” points out Rajagopalan.
“All telematics devices work on the same principle and we are no different there. But what we have done different is there are sensors and intelligent methods to predict a problem. For example, if the engine overheats, I will measure the temperature and the oil level and I will say that there might be a problem. So that intelligence is what we bring to the table as a manufacturer and as an Uptime Centre team. Currently we have a mapping of every customer and their driver. We have a database. Against every vehicle we have the owner’s contact number, the driver telephone number, etc. The first call goes to the driver; the SMS goes to the owner. We have a good call through rate. Around 85 to 90 per cent of the time we are able to speak to the right person and are able to communicate the problem. Some can be resolved immediately; some can be done at the dealerships. When there is a problem, we need to be the best guy he can reach out to. When there is a problem likely to happen, they appreciate someone is calling up and supporting them. We do not want to make drivers as engineers. The idea is to put the vehicle back on the roads,” Rajagopalan emphasises.
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