The digital transformation has now reached the automotive aftermarket. Vehicles are growing smarter and customers more demanding, which in turn makes the requirements for workshops significantly more complex. ZF Aftermarket is developing a digital ecosystem that will not only allow customers to digitalize their own processes, but also to offer digital services of their own, with true added value. At Automechanika, ZF Friedrichshafen AG's Aftermarket Division will present its fleet management tool ZF Car Connect as well as ZF Smart Service, a "digital screwdriver" for independent workshops.
The automotive future is smart. Vehicles communicate and need to be understood. In the future, one decisive success factor for workshops and fleet operators will be their ability to align their services efficiently with data-based information. ZF's open connectivity platform Openmatics, which operates independent from vehicle manufacturers, builds the base for an intelligent digital ecosystem. The open telematics service offers workshops and fleet operators various solutions to intelligently interconnect vehicles and carry out data-based diagnoses. Helmut Ernst, head of the Aftermarket Division, says, "This gives our customers and partners the chance to use digitalization to their advantage, to develop new business models and a more attractive service portfolio."
ZF Smart Service – the ideal workshop tool
In the future, with ZF Smart Service ZF Aftermarket will offer independent workshops an app that allows mechanics to carry out reliable vehicle diagnoses and basic maintenance work using mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. Having undergone a successful, large scale pilot across Great Britain, the next step will be to introduce the innovative product to other European markets, and thereafter worldwide.
Helmut Ernst explains, "We know that in the past, many independent workshops have shied away from investing in expensive stationary diagnostic units. With ZF Smart Service, we have developed a particularly efficient workshop tool, a digital screwdriver, if you like, that no tool box should be without. The resonance on the GB test market shows that workshops agree.“
Handling the new technology could not be easier
Workshop employees just load the Smart Service app on their mobile devices, connect the Smart Service device using the vehicle's OBD interface and can then carry out extensive vehicle diagnoses. Communication between the Smart Service device and the app is similarly uncomplicated as it is carried out via Bluetooth. ZF Smart Service additionally allows workshop employees to carry out basic maintenance work such as oil changes, replacing brakes or resetting breather pipes and SAS (steering angle sensors). The app covers a wide range of vehicles from European, North American and Asian markets.
In Germany, Global Automotive Service GmbH (G.A.S.) has joined forces with ZF Aftermarket. As a company that carries out service management on behalf of large fleet owners, utilizing the Openmatics telematics platform allows the G.A.S. automobile service network to offer its fleet and leasing customers a higher level of service.
Sustainable management of mixed fleets
With ZF Car Connect, ZF Aftermarket offers operators of mixed fleets a new, digital service level and allows them to optimally align their fleets. The Vivaldi onboard unit collects and transfers the data needed here: This telematics and diagnostic unit reads 74 specific signals straight from the vehicle's OBD interface, among them fuel level, braking response and error messages. In addition, the onboard unit transfers GPS and live data when changes in velocity suddenly occur. Openmatics registers and interprets this data.
"With Openmatics, we are setting new telematics standards on the free market – especially with regard to managing mixed fleets. For Global Automotive Service GmbH (G.A.S.), this makes us the ideal partner as we are helping it position itself in a more future- and service-oriented manner," says Helmut Ernst, head of the ZF Aftermarket Division.
Extensive support and sound transfer of know-how
New services, innovative products and a sound transfer of know-how – this is how ZF Aftermarket supports its customers on their road to digital transformation. "Digitalization offers great opportunities," says Helmut Ernst. He adds: "To maximize these opportunities we have to really focus on customer expectations and in the future, offer personalized mobility services. Openmatics provides the ideal platform for this."
By mastering the interaction of sensors, control units and vehicle motion control, ZF has gained a strong market position with its claim "see. think. act.". The leading automotive supplier's Aftermarket Division is involved in the development of tomorrow's mobility and can therefore prepare its customers accordingly with tailored service solutions and an innovative product portfolio under its product brands ZF, Lemförder, Sachs and TRW.