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Ford Crew Chief Telematics System Can Improve Fuel Economy by Up to 20 Percent

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Ford Motor Co. said its Crew Chief fleet management software system is improving fuel economy from 10 to 20 percent in real-world fleet operation.

Crew Chief powered by Telogis provides fleet managers with real-time data in three areas of fleet operation: vehicle location, diagnostics and driver behavior

New features in Crew Chief powered by Telogis include oil life, safety belt status, and tire pressure — information which helps drive a safer, greener, and more efficient fleet.

Crew Chief was developed by Ford Motor in response to commercial customer demand for a system that would allow fleet managers to monitor the location of the trucks in their fleets. To help managers improve the fleet operation even further, Ford developed a system that reports vehicle diagnostics along with driver behavior.

“Driver behavior has so much influence on not only fuel efficiency but on the overall maintenance and life of a vehicle,” said Bill Frykman, Ford Work Solutions product and business development manager. “The U.S. Department of Energy reports that aggressive driving decreases fuel economy by up to 33 percent. With Crew Chief, Ford is deploying smart technology to deliver green driving results.”

People are the other assets Crew Chief helps protect.

The average vehicle crash costs an employer $16,500, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. When a worker has an on-the-job crash that results in injury, the cost to the employer averages $74,000. With its alerts for safety belt status and aggressive driving, Crew Chief can play a significant role in helping improve safe driving behavior.

Crew Chief works by receiving information from the engine computer. What makes Crew Chief different from competitors is that no other system can access proprietary Ford data, Frykman said.

Crew Chief equipment is mounted under the dash and out of sight. The system can be factory- or dealer-installed, and once installed, automatically engages every time the vehicle is used. No driver interaction is required.

Data is collected, transmitted wirelessly and displayed on a simple-to-use, Web-based interface that is accessible only to the fleet manager. Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Telogis, Inc. provides the telematics software for Crew Chief. Through their platform, data is collected, transmitted wirelessly and displayed on a simple-to-use, Web-based interface that is accessible to fleet operators.

Ford offers customers for Crew Chief powered by Telogis a range of exclusive benefits, including alerts and reports for safety belt status, oil life remaining, water-in-diesel, tire pressure and air bag status. Other information collected centers on three specific areas:

* Vehicle location. The system allows fleet managers to watch from a remote location as fleet vehicles travel from stop to stop. One fleet manager using Crew Chief found a fleet vehicle being used to run a side delivery business during regular business hours, Frykman said.
* Driver performance. Information includes safety belt usage status, if a vehicle is starting and stopping harshly, if a vehicle is being used outside of business operating hours, if a vehicle is being used outside of designated areas, and if excess idling and speeding is happening.
* Vehicle diagnostics. Data shared includes exact fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, tire pressure and diagnostic codes such as water in fuel.

With the new Crew Chief powered by Telogis, additional driver behavior information is offered to fleet managers, including “speed against posted speed limits.” The Department of Energy details that fuel economy is reduced by 1 percent for every mile per hour above 55 mph. With more detailed speed data offered by Telogis, Crew Chief users can improve the efficiency of vehicles on the roads today.

Milwaukee-based Joy Global Inc., a company that manufactures, services and sells surface and below-ground mining equipment, has improved fleet fuel economy by 10 percent for part of its 800-vehicle fleet through efforts to cut costs that include using Crew Chief.

Michael Butsch, director of fleet operations for Joy Global, said he expects the amount of fuel used by his fleet to drop by 80,000 gallons in 2011 due in part to cost cutting measures that include the use of Crew Chief. Considering the U.S. average of $3.79 per gallon of gas on May 31, it’s easy to see how the savings add up quickly.

“You don’t know what you don’t know,” Butsch said. “Effective fleet management hinges on a thorough understanding of utilization of equipment in the field. By shedding a light on what you don’t know, you can train to that and better implement company policy in a way that ultimately promotes sustainability of your fleet.”

Fleet managers such as Butsch don’t have to be in front of the Web site constantly to use Crew Chief effectively. It can be set up so that reports are generated and emailed at a specific time, say, once a day, week or even before a monthly operating review. Crew Chief also can be set up to send email alerts when actions such as airbag deployment occur.

Butsch said he views Crew Chief information for his fleet once a day at least and has it customized to email specific alerts — for example if a driver is not wearing a seat belt or engages in excessive speeding.

If a pattern of behavior is discovered that could be detrimental to the vehicle and its operation, Butsch said the driver is given specific training to address the issue.

Ford engineers are continually improving Crew Chief as evidenced by the naming of Telogis as the supplier of the platform for Crew Chief.

Crew Chief also has more functionality. Starting with some 2011 model year vehicles, for example, a new function called Oil Life Minder has been added. Oil Life Minder uses complex algorithms and inputs to provide a more accurate assessment of oil life than traditional mileage-based calculations. Oil life reporting is exclusive to Ford’s Crew Chief powered Telogis.

“Crew Chief represents advanced technology that reduces the cost of ownership for our fleet customers and business owners,” said Michael Murphy, Ford Super Duty consumer marketing manager. “Whether it is through monitoring the usage characteristics of their drivers or the diagnostic and maintenance status of their trucks, Crew Chief gives our customers the tools to maximize efficiency and lower their overhead costs.”

Crew Chief is available for F-150, Super Duty, E-Series vans and the Transit Connect. It also is being tested on Escape and Fusion. It comes with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty when fitted at the factory and can be serviced at any Ford dealership. The Crew Chief hardware can be retro-fitted to older Ford vehicles and to non-Ford vehicles as well.

To see Crew Chief in action, visit http://crewchief.telogis.com/how-it-works/. More information can be found at http://crewchief.telogis.com/.

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