Volvo Construction Equipment is one of the world's leading manufacturers of heavy plant equipment, with the product range including excavators, articulated haulers, wheeled loaders and demolition equipment.
In the UK these vehicles are supported by a nationwide network of service engineers, operating from 8 Customer Support Centres and supplemented by strategically located home-based engineers. When heavy plant equipment requires servicing or maintenance work the impact on the site's productivity can be huge – especially if the vehicle in question is doing a job on which other vehicles depend. For this reason Volvo service engineers always aim to service the vehicle as quickly as possible on-site, rather than have to recover it to a workshop.
Part of each engineer's standard equipment is a laptop that can be connected to the target vehicle and used to diagnose faults or to apply updated firmware to on-board ECUs. In order to ensure that the correct and most up-to-date firmware is applied to the vehicle, firmware files are always downloaded by service engineers on the fly from servers at Volvo HQ in Sweden. As such, having a reliable internet connection whilst on-site – be that in the middle of a forest, in a quarry, or in a remote area where a new road is being built - is of paramount importance.
Volvo approached In-CarPC because their existing solution of obtaining mobile internet connectivity using USB dongles was proving unsuitable. Engineers were frequently unable to obtain suitably reliable internet connectivity on-site, and often had to travel some distance away to get a good enough signal to allow them to download the vital firmware files. This was causing jobs to take longer than expected, impacting both Volvo's own support operation and, more importantly, those of its customers.
Our solution was an in-vehicle router combined with three external antennas – two for the cellular link and one to enable a long-range Wi-Fi link between the router and the laptop, since a service van sometimes has to park some way from the construction vehicle. We also introduced one of our partners to provide roaming SIM cards, rather than the router being reliant on a single network.
After a successful trial lasting several months Volvo ordered a total of 100 units – enough to equip their entire UK service van fleet.
Richard Shelford, Volvo Construction's IT Manager, said:
"Using In-CarPC's on-board router solution has really helped to improve the productivity of our support operation, and there is no doubt that the routers will pay for themselves very quickly. We have been delighted with the advice, expertise and service provided by In-CarPC and look forward to working with the team on other projects going forward."