On Friday, July 19th a group of 77 ambitious developers, designers and entrepreneurs gathered at Capital Factory to participate in the Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) Hackathon. Capital Factory has proudly partnered and collaborated with Daimler in the past to discover innovative solutions for their industry’s most pressing problems. Just last October we hosted the MobilityX HR Hackathon, which focused on finding ways to improve the professional personal wellness of Daimler employees through digital innovation. This year Daimler is back with a new problem at hand.
DTNA is the largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in North America, and the market leader making the most advanced and fuel efficient trucks on the road. That being said, they have high standards. They’re staying ahead of the game by driving the Uptime Revolution, “uptime” meaning the percentage of time that hardware, an IT system or device is successfully operational. They believe voice technology could help their technicians access repair information and guided diagnostic procedures without having to step away from their bay and keeping their hands free.
The goal for hackathon participants is to create a solution to increase the speed and efficiency of DTNA technicians in order to get their customers’ trucks back on the road as fast as possible.
The kickoff started Friday afternoon, during which Daimler leadership gave some context behind the hackathon. For seven decades, DTNA has strived to lead their industry with groundbreaking technology, but as the industry has evolved so has their technology needs. With fresh insights from Texas innovators, Daimler was excited to fasttrack advancements for DTNA’s truck repair technicians.
There was an impressive total of twenty-one teams formed at the hackathon; they wasted no time taking the first steps towards developing their plans into a tangible reality. It was hard not to feel inspired by the buzz of creativity in the air.
Capital Factory and Daimler worked together to provide travel stipends to several teams across Texas in order for them to participate. In true Texas Startup Manifesto fashion, we wanted to encourage innovators from across the state to share their ideas and talents. After all, we’re better together.
Get Those Creative Juices Flowing
On Saturday morning, Daimler provided some mentor sessions as well as a marketplace area where hackers could stop by for 5-10 minute hands-on demonstrations. These demos included: Truck and DiagnosticLink, Service Literature Lookup, Repair/Troubleshooting Manual, Express WriteUp and Techlane. DTNA even brought in one of their own freight trucks to provide an immersive experience for teams to both learn from and gain accurate perspectives for their budding ideas.
Some examples of teams’ brainstorming included: natural language processing, “Knowledge Tokens” that capture technician’s solutions alongside real-time diagnostic information, and a human input framework using voice plus a pedometer for diagnostic and servicing data input.
Teams worked well into the night together to solidify their ideas, gather essential data and touch up accompanying software in order to deliver a solid pitch in front of Daimler’s judges.
And the Winners Are…
Daimler’s distinguished panel of judges included:
Paul Romanaggi – General Manager, Central Service
Dave Dole – Director, Service Operations
Scott Carroll – Manager, Technical Communications
Juergen Steinhart – Manager, Service Evolution
Cristian Pol – Diagnostic Engineer
Dave Vigna – Diagnostic Engineer
Bryan Fleming – Project Lead, Service Initiatives IT
Lutz Beck – Chief Information & Technology Officer (CIO)
Mark Jones – Director, IT Aftermarket
After some thorough deliberation, the judges reached a decision. Before announcing the winners, they made it a point to express how impressed they were by everyone’s creativity. Each team had a “golden nugget” in their pitches, and that’s something to be proud of. With that being said— in third place we had 18 Automation who took home a $2,500 check, and in second place was Gear Link who won a hefty $5,000. The top prize of $10,000 was ultimately awarded to…REINFORCE!
REINFORCE made the most of their time during the weekend by meeting with DTNA leadership and technical leads, as well as mechanics and technicians in the industry to collect feedback and focus on increasing efficiency among the 300,000 diesel techs in the United States.
“We do this by reinforcing their training with step by step audio prompts. The prompts come from DTNA’s official manuals and are augmented in real-time by field knowledge sourced by other techs. The end result is that REINFORCE powers quicker, better fleet repairs. With REINFORCE, techs earn more, train faster, and track their progress without interruption.”
—Gavin Gillas, REINFORCE Team Member
We Came, We Hacked, We Learned A Whole Lot About Trucks
It was impressive to witness the massive influx of ideas from attendees, despite the fact that the field of truck repair was completely new to most of them. All participating teams dove in head first and asked great questions every step of the way.
Paul Romanaggi, a judge from DTNA’s prominent team, expressed his thoughts about the hackathon:
“The event absolutely exceeded our expectations, it was a spectacular success. One of the things we’re trying to do at Daimler Trucks North America is not only move faster, accelerating into the digital age, but also find tech that we can implement faster and is more agile than some of the more traditional systems that we currently have.”
He then commented on the hackathon’s format and relations with Capital Factory:
“By bringing subject matter experts from Daimler here to Austin and immersing them with cutting edge technologists that are part of Capital Factory, spending three days brainstorming, having interactions, presenting our needs and issues, and then, you all who are so immersed in cutting edge tech, to be able to take those issues and bring us solutions that can be implemented in a fraction of the time that our traditional systems took, is a huge breakthrough for us. We are thrilled to partner with Capital Factory and we look forward to doing more projects with you.”
All winners will be contacted by Daimler to discuss their solutions in-depth and take the next steps to integrate them into DTNA’s system. We look forward to hosting more hackathons in the future and connecting with talented innovators not only in Austin but also across Texas.
Our winners of the @DaimlerTrucksNA Hackathon were announced! There were so many innovative ideas. Thanks for spending the weekend with us and happy hacking! In 3rd place, we have team 18 Automation! pic.twitter.com/E1dN0FeR32
— Capital Factory (@CFHacks) July 21, 2019