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AI search helps Scania boost customer uptime
28 JANUARY 2020
New universal search engine that uses the latest artificial intelligence technology means that Scania workshops solve vehicle issues quicker.
The owner of a one-month-old Scania S 650 was understandably most unhappy with the oscillating idle speed that he was experiencing. But the newly built Scania workshop in the English town of Boston was racking its brains (and computers) in vain to find a solution.
A video that the owner had recorded and a road test by the workshop both confirmed what the fault was, but the usual routines of checking Scania’s Follow-up Report Administration System and Scania Diagnose and Programmer couldn’t find a way to fix it.
AI search to the rescue
Luckily, the Boston workshop was able to benefit from trials of a universal search engine that uses the latest artificial intelligence technology.
The service is based on unstructured text contained in the Follow-up Report Administration System (FRAS), which has a wealth of information on deviations and remedial action. From this information, Scania technicians around the globe can benefit from a ‘library’ of locally implemented interim solutions. When a field quality issue is reported, Scania finds a temporary fix in anticipation of a more permanent resolution of the problem.
The new technology is a simple but profound breakthrough. The FRAS system is already a valuable resource, but Scania’s service technicians around the world use different everyday expressions that aren’t necessarily the official terminology or proper word sequence. In the case of the S 650 customer, a search in FRAS for “uneven idle” was fruitless. But an AI search was immediately successful. The indicated software update was carried out, the problem was fixed, and the customer drove away happy.
Scania Great Britain’s technical support annually receives in excess of 10,000 FRAS cases from workshops, including both technical questions and quality deviation reports.
“In most cases we respond to the workshops with answers using information that is already available in FRAS or via other media available in Scania systems,” says Technical Manager Aaron McGrath, Scania Great Britain. “By utilising the AI search at workshops we can get the information exactly where it is needed; i.e. at the technicians’ fingertips, saving on troubleshooting lead-time and also improving customer uptime.”
‘Froogle’ smart search is ideal for time-pressed technicians
The Boston dealership and workshop is a mid-sized depot with 17 service technicians and is located in the agricultural heartland of England, which means that many of its customers transport goods for the food industry. The workshop is open weekdays until midnight with shorter opening hours during weekends. Around 20 trucks a day come there for maintenance and repairs.
“There’s a lot more pressure on technicians and we need to be faster and faster,” says Workshop Manager Barry Poll. “The new truck generation has more electronic control units and more sensors. It’s like a different country.”
Supervisor and Escalation Engineer Ben Howlett, who started as an apprentice at the Boston workshop in 2003, recalls that trucks back then were fraught with mechanical problems.
“These days, the product is 100 times better, but diagnostics and software now take up a large part of our time. In diagnostics, a problem can take two hours, two days or two weeks.”
So, as the truck becomes more complex, workshop tools need to keep pace. Which is why the technicians welcome this new technology. Howlett even has a new name for it.
“The AI search engine is tremendously helpful. It’s a FRAS-Google, or Froogle,” he says.