Why software could be the easiest way to optimise your truck

Alen Becirovic
Technology & Innovation
Alen Becirovic
Product Manager Electrical and Software

As trucks become increasingly high-tech, software has come to be just as important as any of their mechanical parts or components. In fact, in today’s automotive industry, software is playing an important role in improving uptime, safety and fuel efficiency.

By downloading new software, truck owners can add features and functions to their vehicle to improve performance. They can also adapt a vehicle for new work tasks or uses. For example, if a truck switches from urban to regional distribution, changing its I-Shift software can help optimise it for its new operating conditions.

“Software is absolutely everywhere,” says Helena Knappe, Genuine Volvo Parts Manager, Volvo Trucks. “It is used to monitor and operate everything. The transmission, the safety cameras, the engine’s horsepower and torque, the audio system – even when you use the horn, you’re using software.”

This means that choosing the right software is an important part of specifying a truck – but unlike most mechanical parts, it enables far greater flexibility and options when it comes to improving a truck’s performance and adapting it to suit different conditions and challenges. And the pace of development within automotive software means it is highly beneficial to keep track of new offers and available options.

“Every week, we’re developing new upgrades, and right now our commercial offer extends to around 300 software packages,” says Helena. “But we also have lots of customer adaptations, where we’ve developed adjustments to meet individual customers’ specific needs, and that range extends to over 3000.”

Whether it’s increased uptime, fuel savings or productivity gains, the benefits of a software upgrade often deliver a quick return in investment

What are truck software upgrades?

A software upgrade is distinct from a software update, which is when existing software is replaced with a newer version, much like a smartphone app. A software upgrade on the other hand, is when a new feature or a function is added to a truck (or removing in the case of software downgrade), in order to change the vehicle’s behaviour and performance.

Currently, Volvo Trucks’ most popular upgrades from its customers include:

  • Load Indicator, which enables the truck’s load and axle weight to be monitored, making it easier to maximise the permitted weight without risking overload.
  • Battery Management, for monitoring battery status.
  • Fleet Fuel Optimization, for maximising a truck’s fuel saving features.
  • Engine Idle Shutdown, which automatically shuts down the engine if left idle for a set period of time.

Volvo Trucks also offers a range of software upgrades for its I-Shift transmission to suit specific applications, such as long-haul, urban distribution or construction. Each package adjusts various parameters including the gear shifting strategy, torque and aftertreatment settings to suit its intended operation. The results include improved fuel economy, power output and durability.

“All software upgrades are designed to add value for the customer,” says Alen Becirovic, Product Manager, Volvo Trucks. “Whether that’s increased uptime, fuel savings or productivity gains, the benefits of a software upgrade often deliver a quick return in investment. For example, the Load Indicator saves time and helps with compliance, and can help you to avoid penalties for overloading.”

When should you upgrade your truck’s software?

The most obvious starting point when choosing software is to specify what’s needed, along with all other features, when first purchasing a truck. However, one of the benefits of software is the ability to easily change and adapt it according to requirements.
Whether it’s a case of a vehicle changing ownership, being repurposed for another application, or being used for seasonal work, software upgrades can help adaptations.

“Even if a truck is being used for the same purpose, it’s entirely possible that new software upgrades have been developed since it was first purchased, so it’s worth exploring the available options,” says Alen.

For more information on software upgrades, contact your local Volvo Trucks dealership.