By now, most of us have heard about the latest artificial intelligence (AI) tools flooding the headlines. AI art generators like DALL-E 2 create beautiful designs at the push of a button, and OpenAI’s ChatGPT-4 can write everything from high school English essays to complicated code.
There’s no doubt AI is becoming more commonplace in all parts of our lives. Most likely, fleet managers nationwide are asking themselves if AI can improve their fleet maintenance practices, too.
When you think of AI in the trucking industry, it’s easy to jump straight to autonomous trucks, which have been in development by various global manufacturers for years but have yet to be implemented on a large scale. The difference is that while autonomous trucks still have some development before becoming a prevalent part of our highway system, AI technologies are already used and accepted in some fleet maintenance shops nationwide.
A Shift in Maintenance Strategy
The majority of fleets are no strangers to preventive maintenance. Instead of waiting for a problem to arise with the truck or trailer, many fleets will proactively bring their equipment into the service bay on a schedule determined by a service interval, typically set by time or mileage. However, as AI technology has worked its way into shops with the advent of machine learning and real-time telematics data, some fleets are now using a predictive maintenance strategy.
Predictive maintenance combines telematics data with machine learning, a subset of AI that can be used to teach a machine to perform a task. Instead of depending on time or mileage intervals to bring their equipment into the shop, a fleet manager who uses predictive maintenance depends upon algorithms to help spot potential upcoming issues.
Predictive Maintenance Dependability
According to a 2023 article from Fleet Equipment, “Three Reasons to Shift to Predictive Truck Maintenance,” one common use case for predictive maintenance is coupling AI with technology capable of automatically fixing issues, such as automatic tire inflation systems (ATIS).
The article states, “The number of problems requiring manual intervention can be decreased by up to 90%, resulting in a high degree of user trust and engagement.” It continues, “By leveraging machine learning, predictive tire maintenance platforms can leapfrog maintenance practices built on alerts from threshold-based tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) and manual maintenance practices. And with each mile, the insights generated from the system get smarter.”
However, just like in the case of ChatGPT, predictive maintenance AI algorithms aren’t yet perfect. Predictive maintenance systems for fleets are still maturing. The prediction could be wrong and doesn’t do 100% of the work for the fleet manager, but it can serve as a handy guide.
Fleets are finding ways to make artificial intelligence a boon for maintenance, and as fleet managers continue to take advantage of the technology, cost savings and increased uptime are sure to follow.
Are you interested in learning more about predictive maintenance? Read More
HOW AUTONOMOUS TRUCKS WILL AFFECT MAINTENANCE
Dozens of companies are touting their autonomous trucking equipment, but AI isn’t quite ready to handle full autonomy. However, when Level 4 autonomous trucks start hitting the road in droves, will there be a need for less maintenance?
It could be theorized that an AI-controlled virtual driver will handle the truck with a smoother touch, calculating exactly the moment it will be best to stop and start, to maximize component health. However, according to a recent entry in the journal Science Direct titled “Short-Term Maintenance Planning of Autonomous Trucks for Minimizing Economic Risk, “the need for short-term maintenance may, in reality, increase due to more intensive and non-stop autonomous driving.”
“The autonomous truck is expected to drive continuously for long hours (close to 24/7 operation),” the entry states. “This increased utilization, as an advantage of AV, reduces room for planned maintenance. As a result, more unplanned maintenance is likely to happen, limiting vehicle utilization.”
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