'Without Take the Lead, this project would never have taken off'

©Dieter Telemans

At the beginning of this year, Volvo Trucks will be rolling out the real-time monitoring of all new trucks in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany. 'Without Take the Lead, that initiative would never have taken off ', claims driving force Pieter Gheeraert.

For Pieter Gheeraert , Manager Connected Services at Volvo Trucks in Ghent, these are busy and exciting times. Last year, he developed a new application that monitors the technical data of trucks centrally. So companies with Volvo trucks on the road no longer need to keep track of all the data. At regular intervals, they receive a list of vehicles that require maintenance.

But Gheeraert was even more ambitious. His idea was to monitor all Volvo trucks worldwide, from Belgium and in real time. By doing so, Volvo can avoid unexpected breakdowns, for example, by warning the driver a few hours in advance that engine trouble is imminent. At first, Gheeraert was turned down by the Swedish headquarters.

'Every time I got the message that I was going too fast', he remembers. A year later, things have changed drastically. 'My idea received the green light from company headquarters', he says enthusiastically. 'The management in Sweden backs the project. I am working on it for several months now, together with an internal team of 16 people and a number of external consultants.'

Meanwhile, the initiative has officially passed the pilot phase. Since 2018, it is proposed as a paid option to all buyers of a new Volvo truck in Belgium and in a number of neighbouring countries. In the future, Volvo buses can also be equipped with the system.'


Thanks to the new Telematic Gateway (TGW), it is possible to remotely monitor the engine and the condition of certain components. At regular intervals, the Volvo Trucks dealers receive a snapshot of the vehicle's condition. Depending on the information, they can choose to repair the vehicle immediately or during the next scheduled maintenance. 'For the customers, it is like receiving a constant 'health status reports' of their trucks.'

Moreover, the data lead to an internal quality process, in which we analyse where the production process can be improved ', says Gheeraert . Although he had mentioned his idea to the management before, the company only took the issue further after Gheeraert participated to Take the Lead's first edition. 'It became clear to me during those lessons when, among other things, today’s problems of mature companies were revealed.'

'Thanks to Take the Lead, I was able to more clearly define my pitch and my digital strategy.'
Pieter Gheeraert
Manager Connected Services at Volvo Trucks

A company like Volvo, with about 100,000 employees, is like a giant tanker that only turns slowly. 'Thanks to the academic programme, I was able to more clearly define my pitch and my digital strategy. I made it clear to the management why we had no more time to waste and why we had to commit to this issue right now.

So, I managed to convince Karin Falk, Senior Vice President of Volvo Trucks. She agreed with me that my project was the right path to follow. Other projects were pushed aside for this one. Only one question remained: how many millions did I need?’