Users of the Ford Work Solutions’ Crew Chief application are saving gas and their drivers are driving more safely, according to Bill Frykman, Ford Work Solutions product and business development manager.
Ford has seen “where they’ve employed the Crew Chief technology, and it’s improved driver behavior and fuel economy,” Frykman said, including seeing as much as a 3 mpg boost in fuel savings. “We’ve seen fuel economy gains of upwards of 20 percent through the modification of driver behavior. There’s decreased top speed, less engine idle time and more efficient operation of the vehicle.”
To make all of this work 24/7, you’ll need the in-dash computer, which runs $1,195. Then, you’ll need the Crew Chief module which offers location tracking of drivers and vehicles. The module costs an additional $380 for pickups and $425 on the E-Series van. A standard Crew Chief Data Package with web support is $19.95 per month per truck. Third-party service provider Microlise manages the storage and archiving of documents and certificates related to a fleet's usage, maintenance and inspection histories, and it bills each fleet.
The company Frykman referred to was a construction crew that specialized in heavy infrastructure work using F-150 pickup trucks. Fuel economy jumped from the mid-teens to the high teens. Harsh braking also decreased 77 percent per hour, Frykman said, because the trucks were being driven at lower speeds and drivers were aware of the Crew Chief monitoring. Ford is running a pilot fleet of up to 25 pickup trucks using the F-150, Super Duty, Transit Connect small van and E-Series full-size van.
The cost savings could carry over indirectly to other areas, too; it could lead to lower insurance premiums if the overall fleet driving safety improves.
What does the future hold for Ford Work Solutions after Ford recently demonstrated its next-generation SYNC product for passenger cars, called MyFord Touch? Frykman says the two distinct systems could eventually merge into a single product where buyers download apps to meet their needs.
“At some point, they could come together,” Frykman said. “Both the current generation of Sync and Work Solutions use versions of Microsoft Auto and Windows CE as the base underlying platform.”
Work Solutions offers the ability to add new applications today, a feature that doesn’t exist in the current generation of Sync.
“We’re looking at doing that with several companies already for commercial and business customers,” Frykman said. “For example, a customer could use VPN software to securely connect to their office through the in-dash computer. We could create an app store with a productivity focus instead of consumer-focused.”