Some compare the current fervor with vehicle telematics to the dot-com boom of the late 1990s. That dot-com boom was characterized by advancements in connectivity, widespread adoption of the internet, and subsequently, an explosion of growth in internet-based companies. Since then, vehicle telematics, big data, and advancements in connectivity seem to mark the next progression of the Information Age. And just like the internet boom of the 1990s, today’s telematics landscape is fluid, vast, and rapidly changing.
In the commercial vehicle industry, telematics is not an entirely new concept. Fleets have scratched the surface – most commonly in the form of global positioning systems (GPS) to help with logistics efficiency and asset tracking. Additionally, tractors are frequently outfitted with technology that monitors everything from tire pressure to drivetrain status and performance.
While most in the trailer industry understand the potential benefits of telematics and its impact on productivity, uptime, and predictive maintenance, many fleets are still finding their way through the maze of information tracking, especially when it comes to components on the trailer.
Trend #1: Outsourcing data management
Our research indicates that fleets would find value in monitoring trailer components like tire pressure, wheel-end temperatures and vibration, and brake component wear, among others.
Though the opportunities for data collection seem endless, resources are not. At the top of the list of fleets’ concerns when it comes to vehicle telematics is understanding who will manage this influx of data. In the absence of additional resources at the fleet level to turn data into meaningful action, telematics presents a challenge. In an industry where technician shortages are rampant, adding a workload to fleets whose resources are already spread thin seems like an unlikely path.
Instead, fleets are inquiring about outsourcing the data management function to help ease the labor burden and justify the use of sensing technologies.
Trend #2: On-demand data
Another emerging trend in the world of telematics is the need for on-demand information. The days of intermittent information downloads are falling by the wayside as fleets express the importance of access to real-time data as part of their predictive maintenance strategy.
This urgency for real-time updates brings about other lingering questions, such as:
- What types of data should be collected?
- Who owns the data?
- What is the most efficient way to collect, store, and transmit data?
Trend #3: Continued upkeep on uptime
As fleets begin to use telematics to move from traditionally reactive to more proactive maintenance strategies, it is important to emphasize that preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance are not the same.
While sensing technology can provide a way to detect potential issues early to avoid downtime, a good preventive maintenance program can help minimize fleets’ exposure to these potential issues in the first place. Sensing technology is not a replacement for a good preventive maintenance program; rather, it should complement a pre-established preventive maintenance routine.
It is important to understand the value and benefit that component monitoring can bring. Manufacturers and suppliers must work with fleets to understand the technical and logistical challenges that arise with the process of tracking, collecting, transmitting, and consuming big data. As part of the development toward addressing these challenges, companies like Hendrickson are striving to create sensor hardware that interfaces flawlessly with data collection software to ensure that information is processed and disseminated in a meaningful, usable way.
Omar Fernandez is the director of marketing, trailer commercial vehicle systems, for Hendrickson. His career in the transportation industry spans more than 21 years, with extensive experience in sales, marketing, operations, and management. Hendrickson is a global manufacturer and supplier of medium duty and heavy duty suspensions, axle and braking systems, tire pressure control systems, auxiliary lift axle systems, and other components for the commercial transportation industry.