The large-scale adoption of electronic fuel injection in the 1980’s was made necessary by tightening emissions rules and a rising demand for better fuel economy. Though at first it seemed a step backward from a performance perspective, soon enough, factory stock engines had surpassed their smog-era predecessors in power and fuel efficiency, and even the primitive electronics of the day were already being modified by aftermarket companies.
There’s nothing better than working at a place you love, and doing what you love to do. – Tim Roi, SCT
Today’s enthusiasts who have always had access to flash tuning tools like those offered by SCT might not realize just how good they have it. Back in the day, getting a custom tune meant either sending the entire ECU “brain” off for reprogramming, or “chipping” it yourself. That harrowing task involved opening the case, making sure you were grounded so as to not deliver a deadly static shock to the computer, removing the stock integrated circuit chip, and replacing it with an aftermarket one.
“When SCT first started, we only had the Ford custom tuning,” recalls marketing manager Tim Roi. “We had a very basic hand held programmer, and chips you used to have to plug in to the ECM.” Though the company was officially founded in 2003, SCT’s Advantage III custom tuning software has been in development since 1996, and today it’s in use in 26 countries by over 1,100 custom tuning performance shops, performance manufacturers and OE performance solution providers worldwide.
In early 2014, SCT merged with Bully Dog, an industry leader in diesel tuning, and the combination has brought new strengths to both companies’ lineups. One bit of technology that is currently making its way from Bully Dog to SCT is the ability to “tune on the fly,” making live updates to the ECU calibration without having to shut down and re-flash the computer. “That’s a technology we’ve been looking at for a long time,” Roi explains. “You’ll see that added to SCT’s product lines down the road.”
In addition to SCT’s support of Ford, GM, and Dodge gasoline-powered vehicles and the Bully Dog consumer diesel applications, they’ve also expanded into commercial diesel fleet applications as well. That’s a huge market – while gasoline prices have dropped in recent months, diesel fuel pricing has remained steady, and those costs to commercial trucking are a significant drain on the bottom line. Pretty much everything you eat, wear, or use on a daily basis travels at least part of the way by big rig, and even fractional increases in fuel economy pay big dividends to fleet operators.
SCT does all development in-house, and has the resources including 3D printers for rapid prototyping to create almost anything imaginable.
Another important piece of technology coming down the pike for SCT and Bully Dog, thanks to their teamwork under the Derive Systems corporate banner, is the upcoming cloud delivery of custom tunes. Traditionally, if an SCT-affiliated tuner wanted to send a calibration file to a customer, the tuner would have to save the file, and then email it to the customer. That customer would then have to open the email, save the file, and transfer it to their SCT device via a wired connection in order to be able to flash it to their vehicle’s ECU. The process was labor-intensive for both the tuner and customer, potentially confusing to the end user, and at the very least, inconvenient.
Quality control is another crucial aspect of SCT’s success. With a strong emphasis on customer service, you know that your questions will be answered by a knowledgeable enthusiast should issues arise.
With their new cloud-based calibration storage and delivery system, the tuner will simply push the update to the internet, and the customer’s compatible device will retrieve it wirelessly through their own WiFi connection at home. The tunes will be stored and sent with complete security, and customers will have the convenience of simply saying, “yes” when asked if they want to check for updated tunes. It’s the next level in convenience and speed for custom tuning, and it’s all part of SCT’s commitment to leading the industry.
“There’s nothing better than working at a place you love, and doing what you love to do. At SCT, we get to do that every single day. We get to work on some of the fastest cars in the industry. We get to work side by side with some of the top racers in the country, and on the weekends we are out there racing beside our customers.”