Blown Away by Improved Serviceability
Freightliner Engineers Hit Design Home Run
Just introduced by Freightliner, the new Cascadia® was designed to be more efficient for the driver and for owners with what Freightliner calls a focus on “Real Cost of Ownership.” Freightliner’s unique approach to the design of this vehicle is commendable. They invited professional service technicians to come in and perform common maintenance and repair tasks. When the techs discovered a service routine that seemed unreasonable, the engineers went back to their drawing boards.
In a word, the results are amazing! Common tasks such as removing the heater core are accomplished with ease. I’m a very hard person to convince, unless you show me. I can truly say the Freightliner engineers hit a home run with this truck’s technician-friendly design.
Perhaps you’ve already read about the fuel efficiency enhancements, the upgraded aerodynamics, the intelligent powertrain management system, the improved DT12 automated manual transmission coupled with a DD13 or DD15 engine, plus plenty of other cutting-edge advancements. We’ll likely tackle some of these topics in upcoming RoadKing issues. To start, I’m more intrigued by the technician-centric enhancements, knowing that if you make it easier to complete a given maintenance or repair task, getting the vehicle back on the road sooner results in substantial productivity gains.
You’ll Love the New “eVault”
I want to start with a new in-cab storage compartment for electronic control units that Freightliner calls the “eVault.” When I first laid eyes on this neatly packaged space just in front of the passenger seat and below the glove box, I was somewhat indifferent due to my lack of knowledge. When unveiled, the first thing I noticed was the power distribution box, or what most technicians typically call a fuse box. It has been moved from multiple locations to this easy-to-access eVault.
What happened next blew me away. With just the removal of a few retainers, this power distribution box can be repositioned out of the way for easier troubleshooting and repair. I immediately noticed that the main power wires were designed so the component can be placed out of the way with very little effort! I’ve been working on trucks for 36 years, and have never seen a truck that allows this much fuse box movement without extreme effort.
After the fuse box was aside, I started to grin because I saw the ABS computer. It can sometimes be a mystery to locate, but those days are over, because most computers on this truck are located in the “eVault.” I then noticed a computer that I had never seen before. I would soon learn that this new supercomputer is a combination of separate computers used on earlier models. This new consolidated computer is called a Single SAM.
Other computers that just one year ago were located in multiple areas on the truck, including outside on the driver’s side firewall, are now one big easy-to-find supercomputer. To make servicing these computers even easier, you just push and lift. Presto, they’re out of the “eVault” and in your hand. This first ever approach to locating the computers in a single spot, inside the cab and out of the external elements—I believe—is a game changer.
But Wait, There’s More
Just when I was getting excited about the servicing ease for even the complex systems on this truck, my instructor took me to the blower motor. Typically, it does not last as long as the truck; consequently, the blower motor will likely need troubleshooting and replacing one day. To my surprise, the engineers have positioned the blower motor in the dash so it can be removed in a very short timeframe with little effort. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve removed a blower motor from a truck and thought: why don’t the manufacturers make this component easier to access, remove and troubleshoot? Freightliner absolutely nailed it.
One thing that usually makes technicians cringe is the need to work deep in the dash of a vehicle. The wire harnesses are organized and fitted on most trucks to allow very little space and wiggle room. Many times, you can tell a technician who’s been working under and around a dash by the catlike scratches on the back of his or her hands. This truck has a top dash plate that totally moves out of the way, allowing direct access to dash components like connectors, studs and switches.
Finally, when I thought I had seen it all, my instructor took me to the engine compartment on the passenger side underneath and behind the air filter housing. I know this spot and mostly detest working in this area, because there is little to no room, even though common components such as AC expansion valves, horns and switches are located there. Much to my surprise, the instructor removed a few bolts and the entire air filter and related devices were on the shop floor, allowing easy, direct access for servicing components that previously would be hard to even see.
I have only scratched the surface of the numerous technician-friendly enhancements on this new Cascadia. I want to conclude by expressing my appreciation to the Freightliner engineering and design team that took the time to think about professional service technicians and improving the uptime of trucks. I’m confident these service enhancements will lead to improved efficiencies, and perhaps better longevity for the hard-working technicians in the trucking industry.