5 Keys to Spec'ing Trucks for Serviceability

Service Spec Tips Truck Equipment

KIRKLAND, Wash., Nov. 18, 2015 – Serviceability is an important factor as fleets and operators consider the productivity and total cost of ownership of different trucks. Innovative technology and vehicle design are large parts of maximizing uptime for both the owner and the driver. Kenworth Chief Engineer Kevin Baney outlined five areas where truck and engine OEMs are working to make maintaining vehicles more predictable and cost-effective:

1. Remote Diagnostics
Kenworth TruckTech+ is standard in every new Class 8 Kenworth truck with a PACCAR MX-13 engine.

“Instead of just illuminating a ‘check-engine’ light on the dash, we can assess why that light is on and help you make informed decisions about what your next step should be,” Baney said. “The beauty of TruckTech+ is its simplicity.”

With TruckTech+, fault codes are accompanied by a plain-language explanation of the problem and one of four proposed courses of action: 

  1. Keep driving (no action required) 
  2. Keep driving but address the fault at the next service interval 
  3. Drive to a dealer for service 
  4. Pull over to prevent damage

If the vehicle needs immediate attention, the system maps out the three closest repair facilities and can alert a dealer to prepare for the truck’s arrival. In addition, the data is sent via configurable email and to a secure web portal where the fleet manager can review the truck’s location, status, identified issue, and recommended solution.

2. Ergonomics and Easy Access
Simply put, components that are easier to reach or see are more likely to get the attention they need. For Kenworth, easy access starts with the hood. The T680 has a 70-degree hood opening angle and the T880 opens a full 85 degrees. A larger opening combined with the fact that there’s no engine doghouse gives a technician much better access to the engine and components on the firewall.

On the T680 and T880, all of the electrical pass-throughs are located within reach on the driver’s side, he noted. The fuse panel is accessible through the driver’s door, behind a kick panel. You don’t need tools to reach it, and there’s a light in the compartment so you can see what you’re doing.

Something as obvious as a burned-out headlight may go unnoticed during a pre-trip inspection in cases where checking the lights takes too much time or requires several trips in and out of the cab. Kenworth developed a pre-trip inspection process that doesn’t require the driver to enter the cab during the process. Cycling through the headlights, stop/turn/tail lights, and marker lights takes about 5 seconds per step.

“Customers tell us that when service or pre-trip inspections are simple and efficient, and they reduce the risk of unplanned downtime,” Baney said.

3. Low Repair/Replacement Costs
As you evaluate the serviceability of vehicles, compare repair and replacement times for frequently serviced components.

For instance, the designs of Kenworth T880’s five-piece Metton hood and the T680’s three-piece aerodynamic hood help to make repairs easier, faster and less expensive. The headlights on the T680 and T880 use common H11 and HB3 halogen bulbs, which are available at Kenworth dealers and auto parts locations and require no tools to change out.

4. Factory-Installed Components
Where possible, opt for factory-installation of components like PTOs and lift axles.

“On the assembly line, these items are installed with a high level of precision and consistency,” Baney said. “You’re far more likely to get the performance and service life you expect from OEM components installed at the factory. Plus, you have the benefit of a factory warranty.”

Kenworth offers many factory options to streamline body installation, from a 12-pin remote engine harness interface to a J1939 CAN bus harness. Both are available at the back of the cab or the end of the frame.

“Ask the truck dealer what the OEM does to prepare the chassis for the simplest, most straightforward body installation possible,” Baney said. “After the chassis leaves the factory, electrical, air, and hydraulic system modifications can lead to problems down the road.”

5. Dealer Support
It’s always a good idea to factor the locations and services of the dealer network into your decision. But also evaluate what steps dealers are taking to make sure trucks get serviced and back on the road quickly.

“Kenworth dealers have invested nearly $500 million in new and relocated facilities in the past five years,” Baney said. “And that is reflected in a 20 percent growth rate for dealership locations. We now offer over 360 locations in the United States and Canada.”

For more than 20 years, Kenworth has offered superior service to customers through the PremierCare program. To further enhance the highest level of customer support at Kenworth dealerships in the United States and Canada, Kenworth recently launched the PremierCare Gold Certified program. The program includes the addition of Kenworth PremierCare ExpressLane with dedicated technicians to provide a diagnosis and repair estimate within two hours.

“The goal is to significantly reduce the number of trucks sitting in the queue and drivers waiting for an estimate,” Baney said. He added that PremierCare ExpressLane, 24-hour roadside assistance, and extended hours are part of a Kenworth dealer’s commitment to becoming a Kenworth Gold Certified dealer, which signifies dealers with the most comprehensive services in the Kenworth dealer network.

“Uptime is what it’s all about today, and innovative technology, thoughtful design, and a Gold-level service network are all critical elements to keeping a truck on the road,” Baney said. “When you buy a truck, consider the serviceability as part of the equation.”

Kenworth Truck Company is a PACCAR company and the manufacturer of The World’s Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth's website is www.kenworth.com

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