three hours,” he said. Schmidt relayed that up until now,

over-the-air programming for school buses has been considered to be just a concept. No longer. “Through our ongoing collaboration with Cummins, we’re bringing a smartphone-accessi- ble solution to market that helps fleets eliminate the need to schedule shop visits for calibrations,” he added. “We believe this will help spur the creation of broader industry innovations [that will be] focused on reducing the time spent by fleets waiting for updates.” The Zonar OTAir notifies fleet or

shop managers via their Cummins Connect Portal that new engine up- dates are available. Technicians can then select all of the engine updates they want to push out to the buses. Next, the updates download automati- cally to the vehicle’s ECU. Any transportation staff that is ap-

proved to initiate the updates can do so at the touch of the mobile device screen. That process can take as little as five minutes and can be performed prior to the start of a route, or immedi- ately after. Schmidt said the ease of the updates

Schmidt said the best practice

for incorporating these updates into the daily workflow of bus operations “would be for drivers to incorporate them into his or her pre- and post- trip inspections.”

Shop Operations & Updates Schmidt commented that most school buses are sched- uled to receive about four engine updates per year. Traditionally, he added, fleet managers must schedule this maintenance to be performed at a dealer, which requires the bus to be removed from service. “Taking buses off-line can be

a particular challenge during the school year, when the downtime that is associated with updating an engine ranges from one to

makes scheduling exponentially easier and less time consuming. “A fleet or shop manager can shrink bus down- time into breaktime, by turning hours into minutes,” he observed. “While useful to large fleets, where schedul- ing updates can be challenging, small fleets that are without a maintenance shop or appropriate service tool often have to take their buses into the deal- ership for ECU updates.” Plus, the updates are free during the Cummins engine warranty peri- od, he noted. Historically, for all aspects of the

update procedure, Samuel pointed out that the process has usually resulted in an average of one to two days of downtime. This has led to addition- al labor costs and possibly a service fee (depending on who performs the work) to update the calibration. “If there are multiple buses that

require updates, this process becomes more costly and time consuming,

naturally.” Samuels added. “The dollar savings [from over-the-air updates] can add up fast.” Schmidt explained that the typical

cost of an engine update at the dealer is about $120 per bus. For a fleet of 100 buses, that translates to a cost of about $12,000 that is incurred four times a year. OTAir, said Cummins, can save that

fleet around $48,000 annually, just on the programmatic updates. “That is savings we think most fleets can get behind,” Schmidt asserted. Perhaps the biggest long-term

savings of OTAir is time. “Better uptime can be calculated, based on the time it takes for a driver to bring in a bus, the time that the bus is offline, as well as the cost that is associated with allocating another bus for the route of that bus for that duration of the update,” Zonar’s Schmidt shared. “This adds up quickly across a fleet.” Schmidt noted that it can take more time to simply plug-in to the service tool at the maintenance shop. “With OTAir, all updates are pre-loaded,” he countered. “By simply using the OTAir app on a phone, the updates are made to a bus’ firmware.” The genuine savings are generat-

ed by the improvements in time and convenience. “These savings occur by leveraging technology that is already in everyone’s pocket, to carry out all of the heavy lifting behind an engine update,” Schmidt acknowledged. Schmidt is therefore pleased that

“Fleets can touch a larger amount of their buses with a larger portion of the workforce in a shorter amount of time.” Samuel at Cummins described how

the company examines the amount of time a bus can remain in service and how much the associated costs are. “Our primary goal is safety,”

he stressed. “We strive to ensure that buses stay on the road for as long as possible, without sacrific- ing reliability, which can result in additional risk when transporting students. We also apply technology to help optimize processes for fleet managers, such as maintenance,



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