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SPECIAL REPORT


New App Targets Increased School Bus Uptime, Cost Savings


WRITTEN BY DAVID GEORGE | DAVID@STNONLINE.COM C


ummins, Inc. and Zonar Systems announced in December that they concluded developing over-the-air or remote engine updates and a related mobile app that delivers Cummins Con-


nected Software Updates. These are specific performance improvements for the engine control unit (ECU) that help ensure fleet vehicles sustain peak performance. The new solution, named Zonar OTAir, uses a smart-


phone or tablet to initiate programming updates to maximize uptime for Cummins-powered vehicles, regardless if they use Zonar telematics or not. Executives from both companies explained to School


Transportation News that fleets that adopt the OTAir update system should in turn see reduced downtime, realize increased cost savings over the long-term and experienced overall improved vehicle health. All with- out the need of any additional hardware or the need to remove a vehicle from service and send it to a dealer. The companies also announced plans to begin rolling out the service to existing customers before expanding its reach. Earlier in 2019, Cummins made its over-the-air updates


available to the trucking segment. It’s betting that school districts nationwide will be eager to receive details on the


26School Transportation News • JANUARY 2020


system’s capabilities for increasing vehicle uptime. “Overall, the quality of school bus manufacturing con-


tinues to improve across the board with each succeeding model year,” commented industry fleet maintenance and technology consultant Robert Pudlewski. “The potential for widespread use of and familiarity with reliable on- board or hand-held diagnostic equipment will increase the instances of repair resolution prior to component breakdown. That should eliminate trial and error, which will minimize labor time and mean using fewer unnec- essary parts to repair a vehicle.” According to Cummins, the updates empower fleet managers and drivers with flexibility and an additional level of control over their vehicles. “Cummins designed Connected Software Updates to keep vehicles running at peak performance, while minimizing disruption to bus customers,” explained Robert Samuel, EBU digital commercial director at Cummins. Zonar’s Gary Schmidt, vice president of business solu-


tions, explained that the intent behind OTAir is to “make engine updates simple enough for anyone to do, and incorporate the updates into the maintenance workflow, to ensure that buses are always up to date.”

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