Truck News


Utility hosts trailer telematics panel

ATLANTA, Ga. – The power of telematics continues to advance, and there are still plenty of opportunities to be realized – especially when it comes to the rolling assets seen in a rearview mirror.

It’s why Utility Trailer’s Intelligent Trailer Symposium, held during the North American Commercial Vehicle Show, gathered a panel of high-profile executives to explore the promises and challenges of collecting, sharing, and using trailer-related data.

“We do spend a lot of time talking about trucks,” said Jon Morrison, Wabco’s president – Americas. “The trailer is very much increasing in importance.”

The interest in data clearly involves more than filling spreadsheets and completing reports. Wabco has a boat tail that deploys and retracts at specific speeds based on data from existing Antilock Braking Systems. Retreading programs can track the condition of individual tires equipped with RFID tags. Reefer settings can be monitored and changed remotely. Those are just a few examples.

“The demand for data is increasing everywhere,” said Berend Bracht, president and Chief Executive Officer of Bendix.

While the traditional focus has been on collecting the data because of an exception or unusual situation, like a fault code or collision, the possibilities that can be realized by analyzing “big data” will require a continuous stream of bits and bytes.

More data can be a good thing, but it presents new challenges to address. Will information collected about a trailer, for example, come from wired or wireless sensors? How will it ultimately be packaged and transmitted to drivers and operation teams? “There’s a lot of data, but who gets that data?” Bracht asked, referring to one fundamental question.

“One of the biggest issues that still exists for fleets is light outage(s),” explained Dominic Grote, president and Chief Executive Officer of Grote Industries. Drivers need to be notified if lights go dark, but so do maintenance teams. And there is plenty of underlying information to track. The largest entry in the U.S. Federal Register is Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108, he observed. That document dictates the many standards lights have to meet.

When establishing telematics systems, there is also the question of how quickly people need to receive information, said David Kiefer, director of sales, marketing and product management for Carrier Transicold. One warning might require a driver’s immediate attention, but if reefer temperatures begin to fluctuate it might be better to inform other fleet personnel who have the tools to make adjustments remotely. Drivers no longer have to be part of that equation.

Too much data, after all, can be overwhelming to those sitting behind the wheel. “We have to think in terms of what we do to enable the driver just to drive the truck,” he said.

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