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Suppliers See Intelligent Trailers Gaining Prominence


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Transport Topics  /  September 27, 2017

ATLANTA — Trailers are on the verge of delivering more than just freight. A bevy of additional sensors linked to various components are coming to trailers to relay increasing amounts of data, suppliers said.

The suppliers made their comments during a symposium hosted by Utility Trailer Manufacturing Co. at the inaugural North American Commercial Vehicle Show here Sept. 27.

“The demand for data is simply everywhere. In the past, data was collected on the exception basis when something [unusual] was going on. We feel data will be collected continuously in the future,” said Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems CEO Berend Bracht.

With the near certainty of truck platoons before too long, knowing exactly what the braking system is not just on the various trucks but also the trailers seeking to join up is crucial, he said.

The important question to answer is, “Who benefits from the information, and how quick do they need to get it?” said David Kiefer, director of sales and marketing and product management at Carrier Transicold.

With so much data available, the key is converting it to something useful for decision making, he said.

“If you have a pending issue where something is going to break or you are going to lose your [refrigerated load], you would want to do something in real time,” Kiefer said. “And if you have something in between, maybe it goes to dispatch and they can filter it and decide if it needs to go to the driver.”

The ideal state for a fleet, he suggested, was to have all the systems on the trailer “talking,” then receive a single bill for all of the airtime, and worst case go to a website for information and best case have information integrated into your back office system.


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Utility hosts trailer telematics panel

Truck News  /  September 28, 2017

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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