Provide service, maintenance before a breakdown

Volvo’s QRAFT analytical solution anticipates its customers’ needs

Downtime is a killer for freight and logistics companies, so Volvo has developed an analytical solution to anticipate breakdowns and other incidents and speed up repairs when necessary. Its goal? To provide service and maintenance before a breakdown.

Transportation is one of the world’s largest industries. By 2016, the industry is expected to generate more than US$3.8 trillion in revenue – a growth of more than 37 percent year-over-year growth for the previous five years. That presents a lot of opportunities – and stiff competition – for truck manufacturers and fleet maintenance providers.

Volvo has found that analytics gives them an edge.

In cases of proactive prevention actions, QRAFT allows us to quickly target the vehicles concerned. It optimizes the cost for us and for our customers.

Eric Bélot
Head of Statistical Analysis of Product Quality Data for EMEA

From trucks to ‘transport solutions’

After leaving the passenger car market in 2000, Volvo Group not only refocused its offerings, it redesigned its business model and its relationship with customers. “What we sell are not trucks, but rather transport solutions to enable our customers to offer the best logistical services to their end customers,” explained Eric Bélot, Head of Statistical Analysis of Product Quality Data for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

Volvo is striving for 100 percent availability of its vehicles. It plans to provide superior reliability of the trucks and customized maintenance solutions.

In 2012, Volvo launched QRAFT (Quality Report and Follow-Up Tool), a tool for monitoring its quality and product warranties. Based on SAS®, the tool analyzes more than 100 parameters to predict the wear on a component, identify abnormal events and speed up the diagnostics of incidents affecting a vehicle.

The information is transmitted from a network of warranty repairers and is stored in a shared data warehouse. With SAS® Warranty Analysis, it’s then possible to run in-depth analyses to understand the root cause of an incident and help the engineers make decisions about how to resolve it and prevent it from recurring in the future.

“The whole approach involves anticipating events and being proactive with our customers,” said Bélot. The information is also shared with the research department to ensure continuous improvement in Volvo’s products and services.

A project with a global scale

The global implementation of QRAFT took a huge effort by combined information systems and business teams, with the support of SAS consultants in Sweden, France, the United States and Japan.

“The first success of QRAFT was to unify three information systems and three warranty processes by pooling the maximum number of variables,” noted Bélot. “Today, we have a unified solution for our truck and bus operations, and we will soon be sharing this information with our construction machinery division, with which we share certain engines.”

Nearly 500 people – across functions, divisions and business units – conduct analyses with SAS Warranty Analysis. The tool has been so successful that less than one year after its launch, the server size needed to be increased.

Midterm development, embedded analytics in vehicles

The first months of the tool’s use have already demonstrated its value in diagnosis. “With the widespread use of electronic boxes, we soon be able to track dozens of indicators while the truck is operating and define alert thresholds to allow us to act proactively – before an incident happens,” said Bélot.

And Volvo’s customers will benefit from reduced cost and downtime related to regular maintenance. Traditionally, maintenance decisions were based on a predetermined schedule. Today’s approach? Maintenance is based on evidence gleaned from the data. If brake pads or other components are in better condition than expected, why bring a truck into the garage?

“With embedded technologies, we can operate like a Formula 1 team that analyzes every parameter during the race to bring a car into the pits at the best possible time,” he said.

Future developments

QRAFT will soon be enhanced with new information taken directly from the embedded computers in the latest Volvo and Renault trucks. “In case of an incident, we can take account of all the contextual factors: oil, water, vehicle load and external temperature. We don't analyze an incident in Russia at minus 20 C and another incident in Spain at 40 C in the same way,” Bélot said.

The addition of other SAS solutions is also on the agenda, especially in the field of data visualization, for which a conclusive test has been conducted in Sweden. “Analytics can shed light on events where the human eye would not necessarily see a link. It’s an analysis support tool that helps us prioritize the actions we should take,” concluded Bélot.

Challenge

  • Sharing product and warranty information between the three brands: Volvo, Renault and Mack.
  • Anticipating breakdowns and incidents as far upstream as possible, to ensure the maximum availability of the customers’ fleets.

Solution

Benefits

  • Anticipation of potential incidents (and appropriate responses).
  • Avoidance of unplanned customer downtime.
  • A comprehensive analysis of all customer events.
  • Remote diagnostics.
  • Time savings with automated reporting.

About Volvo Group

The Volvo Group is a world leader in the transport and construction vehicles market. Together with Volvo Trucks, Renault Trucks, Mack (USA) and UD (Asia/Pacific), the group manufactures more than 200,000 units per year. Trucks account for 70 percent of its activity.

The results illustrated in this article are specific to the particular situations, business models, data input, and computing environments described herein. Each SAS customer’s experience is unique based on business and technical variables and all statements must be considered non-typical. Actual savings, results, and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. SAS does not guarantee or represent that every customer will achieve similar results. The only warranties for SAS products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements in the written agreement for such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Customers have shared their successes with SAS as part of an agreed-upon contractual exchange or project success summarization following a successful implementation of SAS software. Brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies.

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