Fleetboard in China: Getting the most out of our customers’ Trucks

China and Daimler – most would spontaneously associate this combination with an outstanding customer acceptance for passenger cars with the three-pointed star. However, the Chinese market offers a lot more potential for Daimler, as reflected by the lively demand for the „big boys“ – our heavy-duty trucks.

This is something I know from first-hand experience working as a technical support manager at the Fleet Management & Profit Consulting team, Daimler Trucks and Buses (China) Ltd. (DTBC) in Beijing. I would love to guide you to take a closer look at this division in China, and report about my experiences with Daimler Trucks and Fleetboard in China. Fleetboard provides digital telematics for commercial vehicles and helps making fleets more efficient.

Zhang Yixiang and his colleagues

How to avoid stranded vehicles

Over the past decade, rising infrastructure investment, a booming property market, and increased domestic consumption have propelled the demand for trucks in the country, and China has become the largest global truck market.

If you ask freight forwarders what their worst-case scenario regarding their job is, their answer is usually: being stranded. This should not come as a surprise, because trucks that aren’t moving are of no use for anyone. Ask any motorist, who ever got stuck in traffic jam behind a stranded truck.

Stranded vehicles are also a major nuisance to our customers for entirely different reasons. Every minute counts in the logistics industry, and every minute a truck is immobile due to a defect costs the trucking company hard cash and puts the delivery chain on hold.

Fleetboard: lower costs, increase productivity, heighten security

As a provider for digital solutions for intelligent fleet management, Fleetboard is there to prevent such scenarios and help Chinese customers to monitor the technical conditions of their vehicles, bundling workshop visits to thus reduce unnecessary downtimes.

Are you still having trouble picturing exactly what Fleetboard does? It is quite easy to explain. Daimler Fleetboard GmbH is a provider of digital solutions for trucks and busses. With more than 220,000 connected vehicles and more than 7,000 customers worldwide, Fleetboard is one of the biggest providers of digital telematics for commercial vehicles.

How Fleetboard works: Using the vehicle interface, Fleetboard accesses the vehicle’s electronic system and transmits vehicle and driver data to the Fleetboard servers via GSM/GPRS

Fleetboard supports transportation companies in the long-distance haulage, short-radius distribution, and construction-site traffic sectors. Its main aim is to make transportation routes as efficient as possible: lower costs, increase productivity and heighten security of fleets by networking all traffic processes and all transporters.

In doing so, it can reduce the total costs of ownership for the vehicle fleets. This is because Fleetboard allows customers to analyze their vehicles‘ performance, consumption, driving characteristics and fleet utilization – thus the profitability of the fleet. The potential savings are a dream come true for any stereotypical Swabian or any owner of a transportation company, as my colleagues from Stuttgart told me, with tongues in cheeks, when I visited Germany.

Ensuring highest customer satisfaction

The gain in efficiency is something that impresses our Chinese customers very much, because Fleetboard enables enormous improvements in the economy of their fleets. One daily highlight for me, for example, is being able to calculate for our customers exactly how much fuel they have saved by using Fleetboard. Those savings can make up to 15%.

That is a fast and lasting way to make our customers happy. Fleetboard also notifies customers in real time which truck needs to be repaired, or whether oil needs to be changed. In this way, it plays a crucial part in optimizing driving patterns and route planning. That is why Fleeboard convinces more and more customers.

There is no doubt in my mind that Fleetboard’s potential is far from exhausted in China. My dream is for all Mercedes-Benz Trucks in China to benefit from Fleetboard in the near future. Swabians would say that this means we need to „schaffe, schaffe“ (work, work).

The market is growing – and our team is, too

I have been working for Daimler Trucks in Beijing for six years, making me one of the first Daimler Trucks pioneers in China. It is a great thing to have been involved from the start, and not only to have observed the development of the sector since then, but to have played an active part in it. We now find ourselves in a very good position. DTBC sell Mercedes-Benz Actros trucks in the Chinese market, and also our „specialists“ such as the Unimog.

Taking a selfie: The DTCB Team

Logistics sector in China is developing rapidly

The Chinese transport sector is currently undergoing a Transformation – it is professionalizing. I, personally, experience the fast-paced evolution of the truck industry in China every day at work, as well. When I compare the German logistics sector with its Chinese counterpart, truck fleets in China are still smaller than those in Germany, although in recent years we are seeing more and more larger fleets. The government has carried out series of policies to support logistics development, and stringent emissions and safety regulations have also gone into effect.

As the traditional one-man shippers are increasingly disappearing from the streets, one sees more and more trucks from large fleet operators. These operators have more stable source of cargo, advanced fleet management, and willingness to invest in upgrading their equipment, so as to ensure higher operating efficiency and lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

Fleetboard continues to support the transformation of the sector and is facilitating optimized communication within fleets. That is exactly what I love about Fleetboard, and why I am proud to be playing a part in this development. In a large country such as China logistics provides the foundation for keeping goods flowing – and we are playing our part.

In addition to the difference in terms of fleet size, the Chinese and German truck sectors also differ when it comes to the drivers. Chinese truckers often drive in pairs. The profit cannot be denied – Chinese trucks can drive longer than German ones as the drivers take turns and take their breaks on the passenger seat while their colleague drives. Truck drivers in Germany drive on their own and are only allowed to drive for nine hours a day at most.

Is it true that every printer has its own manager?

Despite all of the differences, some things are probably the same everywhere, such as the many lively discussions with colleagues and the anecdotes that you always get when people work together. One is particularly clear in my mind. My office is right next to a photocopier that many people use. Some of our interns also pass by regularly. One day an intern was particularly curious and asked me why I was always at the printer. I told him that I was the support manager for that particular photocopier and no other.

Zhang Yixiang

Unfortunately, the intern did not question my joke, and for a long time our interns were convinced that Daimler must have ridiculous amounts of money. “Every printer has its own technician,” they whispered to each other. I think everyone now understands that I am mainly in charge of technical support for our truck customers, which is a very varied and interesting role thanks to the fast-paced development of the Chinese truck market.

He works at Daimler Trucks and Buses (China) for Fleetboard Technical Support since 2011.