ZF Bus Connect powering fleets with new management system

ZF is taking a careful approach to introducing its latest bus fleet management system to the Australian and New Zealand market. It says it’ll be worthwhile when it unveils the detailed technology this year.

ZF Bus Connect powering fleets with new management system
ZF is looking to implement its new solutions across Australia

When ZF Services sought to convert from the diesel bus market to the electric vehicle space, it focused on efficiency. Recent global data from ZF’s Bus Connect telematics system vindicates this angle. The current solutions are slashing 30,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from electric buses monthly while saving 10,000 litres of fuel monthly for diesel vehicles. 

With plans to introduce this system to the Australianbus market by the end of the year, ZF Oceaniais intent on making the nation’s bus fleets efficient, safer and more sustainable. 

ZF’s Bus Connect management system can optimise operations for fleet owners.ZF application engineer Jason Moses says the bustelematics solutions builds upon the company’s intimate knowledge of providing bus transmissions and axles. 

He says it’s this product knowledge that makes ZF Bus Connect monitoring system a unique option for fleet owners looking to install telematics on their vehicles. 

"Like all other telematics systems in the electric bus market, there’s a certain amount of reporting that a fleet operator can see on their fleet of buses," Moses told ABC. "The difference is that we understand the bus product and market so well that we like to think our bus system is more future proofed when compared to others. 

"We have tailored our solutions to electric bus fleets and that’ll be our point of difference." 

ZFhas been working hard to ensure specific electric bus data like battery state of charge and charging dataare included in its Bus Connect telematics system. The company is taking its time to install intricate features to help fleet operators plan and predict how long buses need to run and charge for while driving on daily routes.  

Moses says ZF’s fleet management solutions was developed for city bus and coaches. Versatility was at the front of mind – Bus Connect can be installed with both electric and combustion engines as well as hybrid systems in a mixed fleet. 

These new electric bus additions will partner with other mainstay telematics options that focus on driver monitoring. With ZF’s management system, fleet operators can watch live views insidea bus while tracking the route and speed of vehicles. Moses says this detailed data will create driver profiles that can be relayed to both drivers and fleet operators to create scoring systems for daily, weekly and monthly behaviours.  

Fleet managers can also use this data to form digitallogbooks for drivers and ensure their safety is prioritised.For owners operating in states where they are legally required to report driver rest breaks, ZF’s automated technology can help themremain compliant and avoid penalties.  

Moses says this new technology should push bus driver safety to the forefront and help drivers avoid unnecessary collisions. 

"We want it to increase driver safety along with fuel management and passenger comfort," Moses said.  

In its own unique way, ZF Oceaniais actively tailoring its solutions to suit various sized fleets even with a mix of vehicles’ brands and types in one fleet.The basic solution is the ZF Bus Connect system, which comes along with a single powerful connectivity gateway and provides a live view of fleets and vehicles, along with logbooks of driven routes and an introduction to data analytics on energyconsumption or a brake check 

For those looking straight for a more sophisticated solutions orthose who are already a ZF Bus Connect user and want to add some moreadvanced features, the ZF Bus Connect Pro includes improved driving practices with profiles, access to rich data analytics, remote diagnostics and proactive vehicle inspections.  

The top level of ZF’s data gathering comes with the ZF Bus Connect Custom solution. This level of ZF’s management solutions grants access to raw vehicle data, complete data flexibility, tailor-made solutions with custom analytics and geo-fencing zone alerts for drivers and operators.  

"If fleet owners want specific bits of information to really dig into unique vehicle data like the temperature of the high voltage battery or electric motor, they can get that and filter it into a custom field on the ZF Bus Connect Custom," Moses said. 

One might expect that this much technology wouldtake up a large amount of space, spread outon a bus. But Moses says the beauty of the ZF telematics system is that it’s compacted into one unit and can be tailored in size and appearance.  

This means some solutions may only be seen as a single monitor displayed next to a driver’s dashboard. In some cases, it may not even be visible for passengers and drivers. 

"We are making a flexible package rather than having a bus with multiple aerials hanging off it," Moses said. "It can be a small screen that displays feedback directly to the driver so they know how they’re driving, or it may not even need to be there depending on the option the customer takes." 

The system is already being implemented and observed in Europe. ZF Services Oceania head of sales Gary Bain says Hong Kong is also warming to the solutions, with around 5,500buses using ZF’stechnology to manage fleets. Now the challenge for ZF comes withadapting the system to the localmarkets. 

"Now that telematics is becoming more of a requirement in Australia and New Zealand, we’re trying to bring it into the local market," Bain told ABC. "ZF Bus Connect has been around for a few years but not in Australia." 

"ZF Oceania will have live demos and a screen available to show people at this year’s 2022 Australasian Bus & Coach Expo." 

ZF is working hard to implement this new detailed telematics system on Australian buses. While it does this, Bain says the company will continue embracing the challenge of moving into the electric bus fleet management sector. 

"We’re now moving into the e-mobility space," Bain said. "We’ve got an electric drive axle and we’re looking into an electric power-assisted hydraulic steering system. 

"But along with collision avoidance and lane keeping features, this upcoming Bus Connect system is at the cutting-edge of our bus technology." 

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