In 2008, Ford – having searched the market for a suitable partner – selected Microlise’s Telematics software platform to form part of Ford’s Crew Chief solution.
Crew Chief is Ford’s on-board fleet tracking, telematics and diagnostics system available on Ford F-150, F-Series Super Duty, E-Series vans and the new Transit Connect. The Ford F-Series is one of the biggest selling Pickup vehicles in the world – It is the first Automotive OEM installed Telematics product specifically for Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs).Crew Chief is one element of the Ford Work Solution offering. This comprises a collection of technologies created to provide Ford commercial truck and van customers with connectivity, flexibility and security to better manage their businesses.
Ford Work Solutions delivers three other innovative features alongside Crew Chief:
Ford Crew Chief, powered by Microlise’s Web-based Telematics platform, provides dynamic Location and performance data which fleet owners can then use to more efficiently manage their vehicles, quickly dispatch workers to job sites, monitor driver performance for safe and economical driving.
Vehicle location, engine performance & diagnostics are all captured via a Telematics unit located under the dashboard. Data is transmitted over-air via Sprint’s CDMA network, (Sprint are a US Telecommunications provider), to Microlise’s hosted Telematics web-solution.
The Crew Chief application can be accessed from any internet connected computer, including the Ford Work Solutions in-dash computer.
The Microlise software allows the user to understand what their fleet is doing in real-time via Microsoft’s Bing mapping data.
The user can also monitor how the vehicle is being driven, both in terms of economy and safety via a simple colour coded table. Likewise, should an infringement occur, such as driving without seatbelts, idling or the airbags being deployed, the user will be alerted in real-time.
Finally, the system provides users with real-time diagnostic information, such as engine hours, fluid levels, diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs), and tyre pressures. Crew Chief uses this information to notify the user when scheduled maintenance is needed or when a fault occurs so it can be immediately addressed.
Using state of the art Widget based web-client technology, Crew Chief can easily configured to meet individual users own information needs – giving them the right level of information in the format they need it in, when they need it.
The system supports multiple languages.
Delivering this real-time vehicle visibility and increased fleet efficiency results in numerous benefits for Ford customers, from significant cost reduction and lower emissions to increased safety and utilization.
Microlise’s mission has always been to give fleet operators the highest degree of operational control in the most cost effective way and by working in partnership with Ford, Crew Chief now allows large and small fleet operators to leverage the same benefits.
“Ford Work Solutions is just another example of how we listen to our truck customers and deliver features and technology to help them do their jobs easier and more efficiently,” said Bill Frykman, Business Development Manager for Ford Work Solutions. “We’ve been the leader in the segment for 32 years by delivering real-world solutions to our customers. For example, fleets using Crew Chief have experienced increases in fuel economy in excess of 20 percent.”
On a practical note, Crew Chief comes with a 3 year 36,000 mile warranty when fitted at the factory, can be serviced at any Ford Dealership and has been put through the rigours of the Ford ‘Built Tough’ vehicle testing program.
Since going to market, Ford Work Solutions has gained wide-spread recognition and numerous awards from a variety of industry experts.
In October 2009 Ford Work Solutions won the Outstanding Feature Award at the Texas Truck Rodeo which took place in San Antonio on the Famous Knibbe Ranch trail.
It was also awarded the number one spot in the top ten features for Half-Ton pickups for Pickuptrucks.com buying guide whose staff commented “Ford hasn’t forgotten commercial customers’ needs. The company is introducing a game-changing suite of work productivity applications.”
More recently both Ford Work Solutions and SYNC ® (both Ford exclusive technologies) will be honored with international CES 2010 Innovations Design and Engineering Awards to be held in Las Vegas between the 7th and 10th of January 2010. Products entered in this prestigious program are judged by a preeminent panel of independent industrial designers, engineers, and members of the media to honor outstanding design and engineering in cutting-edge consumer electronics products across 36 categories.
“Microlise have invested a massive amount of time, money and effort in the Ford Crew Chief solution over the last two years – it has represented our largest single Product Development undertaking in recent times” says Steve Walsh, head of Microlise’s USA operation.
He further stated, “we are pleased that all this hard work is now beginning to bear fruit, not only with Ford’s customers, who number in their hundreds of thousands, but, given our pedigree has been mainly in the Heavy Goods markets in UK & Europe, it has also provided us with a new platform to enter the Light Commercial Vehicle territory as well”