How blockchain can advance predictive maintenance

Breakdowns can cost fleets big dollars, but utilizing predictive maintenance can lead to replacing parts before they break, thereby reducing costs. Adding blockchain to the equation may reduce savings even more. ( Photo: Shutterstock )

Technology can help reduce claims and track maintenance history

Predictive maintenance is something that has been talked about for several years. The ability to identify when particular components might fail, or to proactively replace components before they fail based on past data trends has been referred to as the Holy Grail of vehicle maintenance.

A number of providers, including truck manufacturers, have begun introducing solutions to assist in this area, and TMW Systems is one of those. TMW introduced TMT Predict.Fault Code last August as part of its new TMT Predict Series of maintenance solutions.

According to the company, maintenance costs have increased 50% over the past five years with 20% of those costs associated with vehicle breakdowns and unplanned service events. It is these events predictive maintenance is designed to prevent.

Predict.Fault Code works with PeopleNet’s Mobile Gateway and Vusion data science, both Trimble Transportation companies along with TMW, to capture and analyze vehicle fault codes and data that can provide insight into vehicle performance. Analyzing the data codes can improve the chances for a fleet to replace a failing part before it leaves a truck stranded on the highway.

The system generates a fault code and sends an alert with the assigned equipment number, vehicle identification number, probability of failure, Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) and description, leading performance variables triggering the probability, and other key equipment and signal values, the company says.

Renaldo Adler, principal, asset maintenance and fleet and service centers for TMW, says that preventing 35% of unplanned repairs can save an individual fleet thousands of dollars.

Predictive maintenance is just part of the maintenance picture. Looking at maintenance management overall, Tim Leonard, CTO of TMW, says that adding blockchain technology to the conversation can add additional layers of management that could save the industry millions of dollars.

Putting maintenance service data and technician data into a blockchain can help fleets track repairs and identify trends.

“They can bring [the vehicle] in, they can look up all the maintenance records [in the blockchain],” he tells FreightWaves, noting that tracking of physical damage can reduce claims. “We believe the physical damage capability could save hundreds of millions of dollars in warranty claims” because it can track what was done, what should have been done, and identify if work was performed on the vehicle that would void the warranty.

It also can more easily track parts that are failing, identify trends, and locate the vehicles with those parts so they can be proactively be replace before a truck suffers downtime.

“What the blockchain will do is it will actually look back at all the data, and pull up [old data],” Leonard adds. He says that the blockchain will hold a ledger that maintains proof of ownership and maintenance records and can include deep learning algorithms.

The adoption of blockchain-related maintenance records may be limited initially, but the truck makers are interested in exploring it for many of these same reasons, Leonard says. For fleets, the advantage of having maintenance on the blockchain would help it coordinate the entire history of that truck’s maintenance – production to every part added or repair and tracking of things like oil changes. Documenting this kind of information can increase resale value as well thanks to the ability to prove the history of the truck in an indisputable way.

Predictive maintenance has finally made leaps into the lexicon of maintenance professionals and become a better way to manage maintenance operations for more vehicle uptime, and now blockchain is poised to change that process again. The result of both will be fewer unnecessary maintenance costs and more vehicles on the road generating revenue.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.