Free Ford fleet management service 'improves uptime' for large operators

Ford is offering a new van fleet management service to large operators of its vehicles for free, claiming it can improve uptime by up to 60%.

Ford Telematics Essentials is the latest development of the FordLiive system, which delivers ‘smart maintenance’ alerts based on real-time vehicle health data.

The alerts help businesses to maximise uptime by reducing the number of breakdowns and achieving quicker servicing and repair times, it says.

Connecting vehicle data from the fleet, FordLiive also links businesses to the support available from the Transit Centre network through ‘smart diagnostics’ so that the productivity of each individual vehicle can be optimised.

Small business customers have already been benefitting from the FordLiive service through FordPass Pro, which is generating 20,000-plus proactive service messages to customers every month.

Ford’s larger fleet customers can now benefit from that same capability for free with the launch of Ford Telematics Essentials.

Mark Harvey, director for enterprise connectivity at Ford of Europe, said: “Ford Telematics Essentials is a desktop software tool enables fleet managers to understand more about the health of their vehicles.

“Other providers will tell you that they can provide vehicle health information, but they don’t understand the trouble codes and diagnostics that are round the vehicle – we have over 4,000 codes that our system understands and provides very simple information and very simple actions for fleet managers to take to ensure the health of their vehicles.”

The manufacturer grade data provides detailed insights, such as the oil life remaining on a vehicle, as well as service alerts or any recall information via a desktop dashboard.

Towards the end of this year, Harvey said the new service would also allow fleets to book a service online direct with a Transit Centre.

The Transit Centre will also be able to see 60-days of data for a particular vehicle, with prior permission from the fleet manager, allowing technicians to make an early diagnosis of what could be wrong with that vehicle and the early ordering of parts, if required.

Harvey said: “This really changes what sometimes can be a bit of a vicious circle between a fleet manager and a Transit Centre into a virtuous circle where everybody has the same data and they all understand what the status of the vehicle is and they can take action to protect the uptime of that vehicle.”

Ford Telematics Essentials has been piloted with fleets and dealers in the UK, including with Speedy Services, which operates a fleet of some 1,000 vehicles, including 200 Ford vans and cars.

It employs the services of another telematics provider for its fleet, but Harvey explained that the “additional insight” on vehicle health was proving “invaluable” for its Ford vehicles.  

Gareth Jones, group fleet compliance manager at Speedy Services UK, said: “Access to vehicle data delivers a step change in how we can manage our fleet.

“Avoiding vehicle downtime is critical for our business and Ford Telematics Essentials allows us to identify any issues and take action before they become serious.”  

Ford have included a factory-fitted modem in vehicles since 2019 and says that more than half-a-million of its commercial vehicles currently on the road in Europe could benefit. By mid-2022, it is expected to stand at one million vehicles and three million by 2026.

While the Ford Telematics Essentials services offers vehicle health data and diagnostics free to fleets, the manufacturer does offer a full telematics product upgrade, with tracking and driver behaviour capabilities.   

Owen Gregory, director of commercial vehicle aftersales and service for Ford of Europe, said: “For our customers, the uptime of their vehicles is absolutely critical to their success and their business productivity and our goal is to help their businesses thrive.

“We believe that our connected FordLiive uptime system can reduce vehicle downtime by up to 60%.

“Using the power of connected Ford vehicles, we can maximise the productivity for our customers to avoid breakdowns, reduce dealer visits and enable faster repairs.”

The new Ford Telematics Essentials service is being offered to large fleets in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.   

Fleet managers can view a summary of their entire fleet and receive key information for each individual vehicle via a desktop dashboard.

The overview shows how many of each model customers currently are operating in their fleet and the current connectivity status of every vehicle.

Other displays show individual vehicles’ mileage, oil life and engine hours, helping fleet operators to proactively schedule preventative maintenance and eliminate the costs and unplanned downtime of avoidable breakdowns and repairs.

Smart maintenance alerts display any required actions for fleet managers, who can immediately click through to service scheduling at a convenient time for their business.

Ford’s confidence in remote diagnosis has resulted in the 30-minute annual inspection requirement being removed from new Transit, Transit Custom and Ranger models from later this year, helping to reduce fleets’ costs and downtime.

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