For commercial truck drivers, judgment calls are often the only thing between a late delivery or a roadside emergency. If there’s any question the truck might need a repair, even for something minor, the driver must decide whether to push on or stop for a fix. At least, that’s how it’s been until now.

Daimler Trucks North America is one company that’s relying on the Internet of Things to take the uncertainty out of driving. In 2013, the heavy-duty truck manufacturer released Virtual Technician, a service that analyzes the driver’s situation in real time and lets him know the best course of action to take.

“The innovation combines telematics, mobility, central mission control, big data analytics, and a seamless process from the truck to the driver, fleet manager, and ultimately to an authorized service outlet,” Dieter Haban, CIO of DTNA, tells Harvard Business Review.

How it works

DTNA, which sells trucks under brands Freightliner, Western Star, Thomas Built, and Detroit Diesel, continually records vehicles’ performance data. If a problem arises, a team of technicians at the Detroit Diesel Customer Support Center analyzes the data and offers a recommendation. If it’s a routine situation, like an oil change, the technicians will schedule a service appointment for a convenient time and location. If the situations warrants immediate attention, they’ll tell the driver where the nearest service location is and alert that station. When the truck arrives, the station will already know what’s wrong and have the parts ready to fix the problem.

So far, more than 100,000 trucks have activated Virtual Technician and more than 85 percent have received a notification that they needed services. Rather than wait until something goes wrong to diagnose faults, the service makes the repair process smoother for both drivers and technicians.

Read more at Harvard Business Review