Beginning in January, the production line of Forest River’s XLR Thunderbolt toy haulers began carrying OneControl ConnectAnywhere, Lippert Components’ latest push into the smart home era.
“If the RV experience is going to grow and be a mainstay for the Millennials, they expect to stay connected and not deal with service issues,” said Brian Hess, LCI’s director of towable sales. “Connectivity and service are the two most critical areas identified by campers that our market needs to own and have solutions in place that create a continuing positive camping experience.”
Products like OneControl ConnectAnywhere, which enables remote and voice control of things like tank monitoring, three zones of HVAC, and lighting levels, are growing in popularity. Equally so are the number of products that are smart home-enabled. Hess called it the “foundation for the future of RVing.”
As with Siri, Google’s Alexa, or Amazon’s Echo, the OneControl Voice system enables standard verbal commands that register as OneControl functions. Locking doors, operating power awnings, leveling RVs … one of the advantages LCI has over other companies is that it is one of the largest suppliers in the industry. So, engineering a network of products that can be controlled by voice or touchscreen application may come easier than developing a system that knows how to be linked up.
The idea is to build parts with uniformity.
“If a new piece of tech can answer a customer problem, we know that’s where we need to focus our energies,” said Michael Rupchock, director of digital innovations. “I ask a lot of questions and try to hang out with people way smarter than me to keep me sharp.”
The more fascinating aspect is the groundwork that’s been laid for data collection. By reading the diagnostics collected from in-wall slides and leveling, error codes can be directed via the cloud-based computing that’s part of OneControl. By logging this data, LCI can better troubleshoot and predict issues.
Connectivity of this degree can drastically approve OneControl Service and overall support.
Due to the diagnostic codes, LCI’s dealer network can work with the supplier to efficiently repair parts and solve customer issues.
“We expect this technology to eliminate half of the questions asked during a standard service call and further improve our response times,” said Nicole Sult, director of customer service and warranty. “We’re rolling out the connected service shops in 2018, working with our support center and our dealer partners to bring these centers connected support cases in 2018.”
The demos of OneControl ConnectAnywhere at the National RV Trade Show in November were warmly received. Rupchock reported that every dealer they spoke to was interested in receiving connected cases.
“People really understood the value of data,” said Rupchock, “and using that data to improve RV service, and even vacationing in general.”
Grand Design RV’s Momentum, which starts production next month, will share similar cellular-enabled ConnectAnywhere features similar to XLR’s Thunderbolt. Leveling, water pump, water heaters, tank heaters, generator with auto start, tank monitoring, three zone HVAC, light zones, and slideouts. It will additionally have dimmable lighting and RGB lighting control.
As it stands, there are currently six manufacturers that have already adopted wireless OneControl.