For those not familiar with the term ‘malarkey’ it means meaningless talk or nonsense!
It was a phrase used by a customer recently who would go on to request that I explain ‘M2M & IOT connectivity in a way that someone who gets their children to set up all their electronic devices, can understand’.
To my customer, M2M sounded more like a short-lived boy band from the 90’s! I can understand why they would think that way. Technology and connectivity are shaping the world we live in faster than at any other point in human history and it’s easy to be caught up in all the associated hype. We have come a long way from first marveling at a tv remote control being able to switch channels.
IoT, (Internet of Things) is simply collecting sensor and associated data from multiple sources to provide the insight you need to make important decisions. If you know what is happening in real-time you can take immediate action.
According to Mercedes Benz, trucks have at least 400 sensors. All of which will generate data and will contain software that has over 100 million lines of code, (instructions in a computer program). That’s more than contained in the average jet plane. With that kind of capability, the truck can generate lots of useful data that will be crucial in the day-to-day business management of the customers fleet.
Operational insight will help guide the fleet owner/operator in the way they manage their business. 24/7 monitored vehicle health data will contribute significantly to driver and freight safety, improved delivery efficiency, interactive diagnostics and proactive maintenance. Inevitably this will lead to improved safety and profitability of the fleet operation.
But it’s not just operators that benefit from fleet data. For example, tyres and their servicing is the third highest spend for most fleets. Yet for tyre service providers, the recruitment for skilled commercial vehicle tyre fitters remains difficult. Let’s face it taking a wheel off the offside of a commercial vehicle trailer on the M6 motorway at 2am on a rainy Saturday morning is not for everyone! Because the service provider has to work with less resources, it translates to less time to spend on the pro-active management of fleet tyres, which inevitably leads to expensive repairs when things go wrong. Often this will occur when the vehicle is well into its delivery journey. Next time you are on it take a look at the centre of the motorway its often littered with tyre debris.
Never before has there been an opportunity for commercial vehicle operators, suppliers and customers to become more coordinated in the logistics eco-system. Insurance and finance companies, in conjunction with their customers, can also benefit by working with operational data to help understand the element of risk and specifically focus on a policy tailored to the operator’s needs.
Once the proposition value of vehicle data is understood, the next challenge has to be to create the hardware and software necessary for this data to be delivered and used. All of which has to be at a good price, easy to fit, easy to use and be of good quality to take on the most demanding of operational environments. The technology roadside is also littered with failed hardware and systems unable to meet this challenge! Where those companies failed others have stepped in, often by focusing and specialising in a particular area such as axle weight technology, wheel loss or connected TPMS and adding an additional unit to an already cluttered dashboard.
However, the goal for all fleet operators must be to have the capability to access a wide variety of data, not just the usual telematic offer of engine management from their fleet as it happens, live 24/7 365 days a year. The whole health of the fleet should also be covered including tractor units, trailers, vans and mechanical handling equipment.
Innovation is the key. All hardware should be independently powered where needed and the user would benefit from technology that is a universal fit. After all most fleets will operate a variety of vehicles and even tyre brands across their fleet.
For our customer previously mentioned the process of connectivity and the digitalisation of their fleet has begun. If you too recognise the benefits above, then you are also on the same path. At Tough Tech this path leads to connected solutions!
Whoever, whatever, whenever, wherever you are, it’s great to connect….
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By Gary Brierley January 24th, 2022