The widespread use of electrical systems in commercial vehicles calls for an uplift in diagnostic tool functionality, claims Luke Garratt, UK & Nordics technical services manager at Delphi Technologies Aftermarket.
The vans and trucks of today are more technically advanced than ever before, and consequently the days of purely mechanical systems for important tasks such as fuel delivery, ignition and even braking are now long gone.
The growing use of electrical systems for even the most mundane automotive function means that diagnosing issues becomes a significant challenge without the right tools for the job and the knowledge to go with it.
In fact, even routine service and maintenance can require a few taps on a keyboard and ECU recalibration. This level of complexity is rapidly increasing too, as new technologies such as hybridisation and active safety systems become more commonplace in the commercial sector, especially in LCVs.
Many garages meanwhile report huge increases in demand for LCV work as the number of vans in use on UK roads continues to rise year-on-year to meet escalating consumer demand for home delivery retail.
Thankfully, the tools and knowledge required to service this need are readily accessible and within the reach of garages of all sizes, expanding the range of commercial vehicles they can cater for, and enabling them to compete on service with franchised dealers.
Do it like a dealer
Diagnostics can still be an intimidating subject for some garages, particularly the more traditional and smaller establishments. However, companies like ourselves are working to provide independents with a range of diagnostic tools that can interface with any make and model of vehicle, and which can perform a comprehensive range of tasks that were previously exclusively the preserve of the dealer network.
With our OEM experience, it’s possible we designed the system in the first place, and that means we’re in the very best possible position when it comes to diagnosing faults and identifying issues.
Having been a leading supplier of diagnostic tools for many years, Delphi Technologies launched its current BlueTech VCI next-generation diagnostic tool at the end of 2021. The platform covers LCV, truck and bus sectors. The tool delivers faster vehicle scan times than ever before, while new integrations such as CAN FD, multiple CAN channels, and DoIP (Diagnostics over Internet Protocol) offer garages cost-effective and intuitive access to the latest troubleshooting methods.
The new tool also has integrated security gateway that allows the workshop to seamlessly service security-protected vehicles whilst the new DTC-assist functionality provides technicians with guided diagnostic assistance.
Pathway to profitability
By listening to garages and technicians and working to incorporate everything they value and need in the BlueTech VCI, including Pass-Thru capability, it has opened the door to services such as ECU programming that were previously the preserve of franchised dealers and their OE-specific tools.
Many new vans come equipped with an array of sophisticated advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) so we’ve ensured that the BlueTech VCI supports the calibration of most modern ADAS features, while we’ve also looked to optimise its ease-of-use for the technician.
For example, with the built-in Flight Recorder, technicians can record a range of parameters during a solo road test, ready for review and analysis once safely back in the workshop. For some, these new complex tasks may seem daunting, particularly when approached for the first time. However, Delphi Technologies complements its tools with a high level of support, with garages enjoying access to a technical hotline, in-field support, and comprehensive training programmes.
Join the academy
Covering topics from emissions to common rail diagnostics, engine management issues to hybrid systems, each can be delivered in-person at the company’s Midlands-based training centre, or online through the fast-growing e-learning academy platform that provides training at the point of need and through any device, even just a smartphone.
That relationship doesn’t stop when the diagnostic tool is purchased. In fact, it’s really the starting point and we’re seeing growing uptake over time on the Delphi Academy e-learning platform where technicians can check or improve their knowledge at any time.
Delphi believes the ever-growing complexity of vehicles, as well as the range of control systems technicians work on, make this kind of focused ‘on-demand’ modular learning extremely practical for most garages.
By expanding their knowledge and their diagnostic capability, independent garages can provide the same level of service as a franchised dealer. As commercial vehicles become ever more complex, this helps turn a challenge into an opportunity, one where the rewards are increased customer loyalty and improved profitability!