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LISA doesn’t leave the service technician’s side. With her expertise, she identifies which trailer axle needs repair, indicates which spare parts need to be ordered and explains the repair process step by step. LISA is not a human being, but rather the project name for an app developed by SAF-HOLLAND whose full name is “Learning Intelligent Service Assistant.” SAF-HOLLAND is currently in the process of getting this service app and its augmented reality functions ready for series production.

Order catalogue
Hub unitPart number: 03307304502
Disc break – INTEGRALPart number: 04079001303
Rubber bearing bushPart number: 04177302800
“We want to create a positive customer experience.”Alexandre Charpiot

SAF-HOLLAND already presented the first prototype of the new app at two trade shows last year. “The response has been thoroughly positive, from both trailer manufacturers and repair shop owners,” says Alexandre Charpiot, Vice President Sales Original Equipment and Aftermarket Europe at SAF-HOLLAND. Research is still needed, however, before the technology is ready for everyday use in the repair shop. The real challenge is what is called “tracking.” Tracking ensures that the virtual model of the product in question is placed over the actual object. Reference points cannot be used to determine the spatial location in a repair shop, and dirty or damaged components make tracking much more difficult.

SAF-HOLLAND intends to have all of the remaining technical issues solved over the next two to three years. Even so, the company is already thinking about the apps next phase of expansion where LISA will also be able to have actual conversations with service technicians.

At the end of 2018, SAF-HOLLAND introduced a new content management system for technical documentation so that the company can one day feed digital assistants with the right content. The goal is to migrate 80 percent of all of the ­relevant documentation to the new system. The rest will be reconstructed based on the new requirements. SAF-HOLLAND already offers digital capabilities to 10,000 service contract partners worldwide – and the plan is to significantly expand this. ­Today, the company’s partners ­already have the possibility to order spare parts from any smartphone using the “SH Connect” catalog app via an online portal. SAF-HOLLAND has been right in line with the trend with this app: direct customers, mainly wholesalers and intermediaries, are reporting a steady rise in the number of ­online orders from repair shops.

Interview with Alexandre Charpiot
Alexandre Charpiot,
Vice President Sales OEM & Aftermarket Europe.

Mr. Charpiot, what are SAF-HOLLAND’s ­strategic goals in the aftermarket?

Alexandre Charpiot: As our original equipment business grows, so does the worldwide installed base of trailers equipped with our axles. As a result, we have been able to record a significant increase every year in Europe for the past several years. It will take some time for this to carry over to the aftermarket business. The first brake pad change is usually not required until after the first two years, and the replacement of the brake disc is generally only necessary after at least three years. Our most important goal in the aftermarket business is that customers use the original spare parts we manufacture for their maintenance. We have to gain the confidence of dealers and service ­outlets. Digital offerings such as our service app have proven to be a good way to generate customer loyalty.

The commercial vehicle manufacturers have already recognized this as well ...

Alexandre Charpiot: Yes, it’s true that all commercial vehicle manufacturers are working to make the most of their service network, and this includes digital offers. Incidentally, they are also taking over an increasing share of the trailers’ maintenance as the service intervals for tractors continue to grow longer. This is the reason why we work together with a number of manufacturers in the aftermarket.

How do digital tools such as service apps benefit repair shops?

Alexandre Charpiot: The shortage of skilled workers in the service area is already very evident today and is expected to intensify even more in the years ahead. Digitally guided repairs are therefore gaining in importance. And although I don’t believe digital tools can be used to replace all training, I do believe these apps will make it easier to keep repair staff up to date on topics that go beyond what is taught in classroom ­training. In fact, we use some of the same digital content for our service app that we use in our training courses. We are also working on a pure online training offer via our recently introduced e-learning portal. This type of offer can also serve as a boost to our original equipment business. We won a large OEM order in the US simply because we had promised the manufacturer that he could train his sales team with our portal.

What is your general approach to developing digital offers?

Alexandre Charpiot: Our goals for digitalization are completely separate from our goals in the ­aftermarket. Our aim in the aftermarket is to ­ensure that customers are satisfied with their SAF-HOLLAND products over the entire life of their vehicle. In the digital world, this means creating a positive customer experience. This is the reason we do not develop our digital services in a vacuum but instead bring our own service ­technicians on board for the service app.