service events and so on.” He added that Cummins has deter- mined that leveraging open, mobile platforms can increase the speed of necessary updates, which “significant- ly” decreases service interruptions. “That ensures that children get to school and back home safely—and on time,” he stressed. Not to be overlooked is that dis-

patchers receive notifications on what vehicles have been updated. “This allows managing of updates to happen from PCs instead of waiting until the next service or maintenance of a bus, where it might run for months with then-outdated firmware,” Schmidt commented. As a result, Schmidt said that adding

the latest engine firmware updates allow shops to ensure buses run more efficiently, which limits the possibility of catastrophic breakdowns.

With Better Quality Comes More Complexity “Vehicles that are manufactured

today have all of the equipment that is necessary to implement and manage a reliability-based maintenance program, which is the delivery focus of OEM and aftermarket technology suppliers,” observed Pudlewski.

He noted that although quality is “at

a historic high, new vehicles are also becoming more complex, especially with the proliferation of alternative fueled engines, sophisticated exhaust emission controls and exciting new onboard telematics. Those devices in- clude component data recorders, GPS, a multitude of sensors, safety equipment, and increasingly sophisticated OEM power train management systems.” When these systems are compared

to older buses, Pudlewski said they will prove to be very reliable. “But when things do go wrong, they tend to cause more complex maintenance problems, which may have the potential to drive up labor costs.” For 2020, Pudlewski acknowledged

that school bus technology will contin- ue to evolve. “School bus manufacturers are continually incorporating tech- nology adopted by their engine, truck, component engineering counterparts, as well as after-market diagnostic tech- nology suppliers.” Pudlewski said that “As a result, they

will ultimately update specific school bus component maintenance interval standards, which may influence fleet maintenance repair costs.” ●

Benefits of Continuous Updates

Cummins said OTA engine updates provide operations with the following benefits:

Reduced Downtime: Buses spend more time on the road than at the shop having their engines calibrated.

Cost Savings: A typical shop visit for an engine calibration update can cost in excess of $110 per visit, per vehicle.

Increased Vehicle Health: Up-to-date software allows vehicles to run more effi- ciently and safely.

Ease-of-use: Drivers can quickly approve updates on their smart phone or tablet, then start the over-the-air process without hassle.

What Comes Next? OTAir will eventually offer additional calibration updates. “These include any engine

after-treatments that customers request, or other trimming packages from Cummins that can be passed down,” specified Gary Schmidt, vice president of business solutions at Zonar. Robert Samuel, ECU digital commercial director at Cummins, explained that the app

allows fleet and maintenance professionals to partner with school bus drivers to automate and effectively scale ECU calibration updates seamlessly across multiple vehicles at one time. “Using over-the-air programming technologies, we can reduce the labor and servic- ing costs that are associated with manual or traditional calibration efforts, as well as the required downtime that customers faced in the past,” he added. Those technologies and their related updates, should continue to be refined and help

reduce ongoing costs, as future feedback from clients and data on operations is received, studied, and then contributes to more fine-tuning of the whole update process.

Rapid Updates: Fleet managers and drivers work together to find optimal times to complete updates, such as during a driver’s 30-minute rest break.

Increase Fleet Control: The Cummins portal notifies fleet managers of available updates for specific engines, thereby allowing them to schedule updates appropriately.

Data Security: OTAir includes VIN validation to help ensure the correct vehicle is receiving the correct update.

28 School Transportation News • JANUARY 2020

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