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March 2017

New Technology Makes Buses Safer, Easier to Maintain and More Efficient

When you update your buses, you usually strive to purchase an efficient and safe bus that also saves on maintenance costs and headaches.

Buses today are safer and more efficient in their own right but now, through a suite of new technologies, any bus, whether new or old, can show drastic improvements on the road and in the shop.

You’ve heard it mentioned time and time again: new technology will save you money, enhance efficiency and aid in maintenance.  But the options can seem overwhelming and who has the upfront funds to pay for such technology?  We get it and we hear you. Fortunately, many new technologies are factory installed as standard equipment on newer buses today and even the ones that aren’t will revolutionize the way you do business and save you money over the life of your bus.

Technology That’s Making School Buses Easier to Maintain

When it comes to school bus maintenance, there is only one form of technology you need to be familiar with, and that is telematics.  Telematics, which is the transmission of computerized data such as engine diagnostics, driver behavior and even student tracking, is the future of the school bus industry and a great way to update your fleet today.

At Thomas Built Buses, we believe in telematics so much that we install the Zonar® V3 telematics control unit on all of our buses – the Saf-T-Liner® C2, Saf-T-Liner® EFX, Saf-T-Liner® HDX and Minotour® – as factory-installed, standard equipment. Zonar plugs into the buses’ engine and on the Saf-T-Liner C2, it plugs into the buses’ proprietary multi-plex wiring system.  This enables the system to oversee multiple chassis and body features and components through Zonar’s Ground Traffic Control system, which provides immediate data over the air.

  • Pre-trip inspection
  • Water in fuel
  • Post-trip inspection
  • Engine idle time
  • Stop sign/cross gate
  • Maximum road speed
  • DEF low tank level
  • Park brake status
  • Transmission economy mode
  • Vandalock status
  • Regen switch status
  • Low voltage
  • Heater activations
  • Engine fault codes
  • Cruise control
  • Low coolant
  • Entrance door status
  • Engine run
  • Rear door status
  • Vehicle speed
  • Driver seat belt
  • A/C activation
  • Check-mate
  • Headlights on
  • Lift activation

Zonar installed on the Saf-T-Liner EFX, Saf-T-Liner HDX and Minotour can monitor school bus location, mileage, fuel usage, driver behavior and remote engine and system diagnostics.

Through all of these data points, you’ll have insight into maintenance issues before they become larger repairs, saving repair costs and unnecessary downtime.  Plus, routine maintenance can be automated and even scheduled.

And it gets even better.  In 2018, the launch of the Detroit™ DD5™ and DD8™ engines will include the Detroit Connect Virtual Technician℠ remote diagnostics service, which will provide the most in-depth and advanced engine diagnostics and intelligence in the industry.

Through this state-of-the-art system, fault code details will be relayed to you by email or notification via the Detroit Connect portal. Critical faults will be sent to the Detroit Customer Support Center, where an expert will analyze the fault event further, and provide additional details.  Do you need to pull the bus over?  Can you wait until the end of day to perform maintenance?  Can you wait longer?  How serious is it?

Within minutes, you’ll know the cause of the code and the level of severity, receive recommendations for fault resolution and the parts needed for the repair.

Knowledge is power.  Through today’s advanced telematics, both Zonar and Detroit Connect provide you with the knowledge to effortlessly maintain your fleet and make smart decisions on when to perform maintenance and repairs and even how to lower future fuel consumption.

Technologies to Make School Buses Safer

It’s true that school buses remain the safest form of transportation to and from school but, because even one bus-related injury is one too many, we continue to strive to make school buses even safer.  That’s why we created BusWise™ Technologies, which enhances the driver’s awareness of the bus and everything surrounding it.  Here are a few BusWise features on our Saf-T-Liner C2 that are gaining a lot of popularity and headway in the industry.

Since most school bus accidents happen outside the bus, knowing your surroundings is extremely important. One of our most popular features is the PV360® multi-camera, which provides the driver with a 360-degree view of virtually everything surrounding the bus.  You can easily see children in front of the bus or crossing behind the bus, as well as lanes of traffic approaching on both sides. We also offer a factory-installed warning system from Mobileye® N.V. to help prevent forward collision, pedestrian collision and lane departure.

We are working on safety inside the bus, as well.  We offer SmartTracTM Electronic Stability Control (ESC) by Meritor Wabco that intervenes automatically when it senses instability, which could lead to rollover or loss of bus control.  This technology does not replace the need for safe driving, but it does help correct course when the bus loses stability: a huge plus for any driver, especially in tricky weather.

When it comes to safety, we’re just getting started. Our team of experts is developing state-of-the-art technology that will make school buses even safer.

“So what is all of this new technology going to cost me?” you might ask.  Surprisingly, not as much as you might think.  Our telematics options now come standard on all of our buses; no aftermarket installation is necessary.   And the data gleaned from Zonar and Detroit Connect will help you save money down the road. As for some of the safety technologies, they are gaining headway in the industry and are becoming options that are commonly spec’ed on buses across the country.

Give it a shot.  Talk to your local dealer about which technologies may be right for you.

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