By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: courtesy Scania Australia

VIRTUALLY INSTANTANEOS bus diagnostic and repair-need information - based on Apple iPad tablet technology - is now being rolled out across Scania's company-owned branches Australia wide, the company announced recently.

“With this technology we’ll be able to turn buses around more quickly, as well as ensure we have a complete and accurate report on the vehicle condition and the work that has been carried out on it," said Jason Grech, Scania Australia’s Technical Support manager.

Scania’s paperless Workshop Information Online innovation is helping to speed up servicing and repairs, getting customers’ buses back on the road more quickly, it states.

The iPad-based technology is providing technicians with real-time information about the buses they are working on, a complete work order list, as well as the ability to attach photos of damaged or broken components, which can be seamlessly sent to the customer in order to gain approval to proceed with repairs, Scania explains.

The service and repair information is then saved as part of the vehicle’s electronic history held on file by Scania, which can be reviewed the next time the bus returns to the workshop, it adds.

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From the moment a bus or coach arrives at a Scania branch for repair or service work, the service advisor and service technician can monitor its progress through the workshop, the company states.

Using the Workshop Communication Unit - a 'blackbox' installed in the workshop - technicians can wirelessly connect to the bus using the Scania Workshop Suite app on the tablet to identify real-time information on errors or failures, drawing attention to what needs to be fixed prior to releasing the bus back to work, it says.

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"Workshop information online is integrated with our dealer management system. It is completely online, always up to date and available anywhere with internet for users with credentials,’ said Jason Grech, Scania Australia’s Technical Support manager.

"With this technology we’ll be able to turn buses around more quickly, as well as ensure we have a complete and accurate report on the vehicle condition and the work that has been carried out on it.

"Not only does the system guide the technician through a workflow, but the iPads also contain the full factory workshop manual for the exact model of bus being worked on, showing the technician which chassis or powertrain parts need to be replaced, plus showing how to remove and refit them.

"A speech-to-text feature allows the technician to effortlessly send a message using the Wi-Fi system in the workshop to their supervisor, or the customer service representative, perhaps to order new parts, or to advise of the discovery of additional work required, without having to clean up their hands and manually write out a new item on the job card.

"The iPads also prompt the technician to check that software updates and technical service bulletins have been completed," Grech said.

"They can also undertake training courses and refreshers using the tablet to ensure they are fully up-to-date with the latest processes and procedures," he explained.

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Mobile Technician is another app on the tablet, which allows technicians to clock on or off to jobs, write their stories, and use pre-defined checklists to make their task more efficient, Scania states.

"We have delivered training to more than 50 technicians who have been issued with the tablets so far, with the aim being to rollout system across more than 150 technicians at the company’s nine branches by the end of the year, including the brand-new branch at Eastern Creek in NSW," Grech said.

The tablet is managed centrally using a data management tool; this means new apps can be sent out automatically from Scania HQ, the company explains.

Further useful apps include mapping - to assist mobile service crews locate vehicles in unfamiliar terrain, it adds.

The tablets feature a selection of Scania technical apps and access to databases, so the technician does not need to leave their workstation to research information or identify a part or find a part number. The tablets also offer assistance for diagnosis of problems, to help speed up their resolution, Scania says.

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"We will be able to improve our productivity in the workshop at every stage of the process," said Lloyd Carter, branch manager at Scania Campbellfield in Victoria.

"We were very pleased with the initial response from our technicians to the rollout of the technology.

"They have been quick to adopt it and can see the benefit to them, as well as for our customers, and it provides a view at a glance for our workshop managers and supervisors exactly how work is progressing throughout the day," he said.

"Each job has a set time assigned to it, so we can see how long the job takes in real time because the technician will sign off the work as they complete it, and the system will prompt the user if a step is missed.

"This reduces the possibility of some work being overlooked. Plus, with all the stages and steps and the photo reporting, customers can understand better the time taken to complete various tasks.

He continued: "Then when the job is complete, the technician simply selects the next job off the rank without having to come back to the reception area each time to ask what to do next.

"There’s no physical paperwork involved, and we can process invoices faster and have an accurate record of all the work carried out, the labour cost and the parts used," Lloyd explained.

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"One of the benefits is that by using the photos taken by the technician in the pit or when the bus is on the lift, any worn, damaged or broken components can be photographed and sent directly to the customer, so they can see it, making it simpler and quicker to get an agreement to replace the worn or damaged parts," Lloyd stated.

"From a legal perspective, the tablet makes it even easier to create a record of the work done, which is important from the perspective of the chain of responsibility," he said.

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