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IoT

IoT Provides Predictive Maintenance for Connected Cars

by Pablo Valerio
Connected vehicles today are featuring an army of sensors that collect a massive amount of information. Everything from fuel use, brakes condition, tire pressure, driving style and more are continuously recorded and, in many cases, analyzed to determine the need for service.

Traditionally, a vehicle is scheduled to receive preventive service when it reaches a certain number of driven miles, or a specific amount of time since the last checkup -- whichever comes first. This system is the one used by manufacturers and dealers for decades.

The problem is that not all driving conditions are the same.

Factors such as driving style, road conditions, weather, etc., can cause specific components in the vehicle to wear faster than average, and other systems don't need to be replaced or serviced at the scheduled time.

Car manufacturers and dealers are looking for ways to optimize maintenance by continuously monitoring all the critical systems in the vehicle. Using connected sensors, and onboard analytics, it is possible to predict when maintenance is required.

For example, if driving in certain conditions requires continuous braking, such as using up brake pads and fluid, the car subsystems not only alert the driver but also schedule service way before those brakes fail.

The vehicle's sensors can also measure environmental conditions, such as humidity, temperature, weight and stress, plus other measurements such as pavement surface and tilt. The collection of all those data points can provide manufacturers and service centers with complete information about the environmental conditions of where the vehicle has been operating, something precious when evaluating the needs of advanced maintenance.

Managing electric car batteries
Today, when buying an electric car, such as the ones built by Tesla, Nissan, Renault and others, the customer is offered the option to lease the battery instead of buying it straight from the beginning.

Then EV owners pay a monthly fee based on how much they use the car and the stress on the battery cells. Sensors installed on the battery, engine and charging ports send the information to the manufacturer and when the battery is no longer able to hold a reasonable charge for the needs of the car user -- usually below 75% -- it gets replaced.

Predictive maintenance helps save time and money
Predictive maintenance saves time and money for both vehicle's owners and service centers.

As they can schedule checkups and repairs in advance, garages can order replacement parts before the vehicle is there, and schedule the necessary time to conduct the service. Predictive maintenance not only saves time for the vehicle's user, but avoids, or reduces, the need to provide a replacement vehicle and, in many cases, service can be conducted quickly with the customer waiting.

Also, car manufacturers get valuable data on the performance of car subsystems in many driving conditions, allowing them to detect potential problems of individual components, or parts coming from different sources. The data helps to make the necessary changes in production and maintenance to avoid the same problems in the future. It can be achieved by designing products that are more durable and easier to upgrade, repair or maintain, and deploying predictive maintenance to prevent irreversible failures.

Ultimately, when some parts or the vehicle, need to be replaced, they can be recycled or appropriately restored to give a second life to many components, avoiding unnecessary waste and helping to preserve the environment.

— Pablo Valerio is a technology writer and consultant working out of his home city of Barcelona, Catalonia. Follow him on Twitter @Pabl0Valerio.

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