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Fleet managers have long used automation tools, GPS, and other computer aids to manage trucks, destinations, delivery schedules, and loading. As such, there is a mountain of information available to managers at any one time. These are due to the use of GPS tracking, and equipment inventory software. These tools are about to be further enhanced with a new bold concept – telematics using the Internet of Things (IoT).

The 78-year old company created a system which uses automation software and analytics to deploy enhanced fault guidance.

Telematics is the collection of data from remote trucks for analysis to optimize operations. This includes vehicle telemetry (vehicle and driver performance measurement via sensors), downtime, driver history, route optimization, and compliance verification. The most important information is only derived once the data has been analyzed. The data can give an idea or a forecast for potential truck failures or driver accidents. The information gathered has proven very helpful in running a successful business.

There are further improvements along the way, but these would have to make use of different technologies, approaches, and methods. The most promising technology makes use of IoT devices which can be used to capture data helpful in predicting engine and other equipment failure. Predicting downtime can help managers keep the cost of repairs down.

In fleet management, the main metric is based on the number of trucks running, the total distance, and for how long. Downtimes are hard to predict; however, it would be a big help if these could be forecasted. A truck can fail at any time. The problem is that addressing issues becomes difficult when the truck is far from base. It has to be towed to a garage, its contents have to be transferred to another truck and the disabled truck has to be repaired.

When a damaged truck is under repair or awaiting spare parts, it is not earning anything for the company. In some instances, drivers would even quit while the truck they’re using is under repair. What’s more, there are additional costs such as paying for towing to the garage or base. To top it all off, there is the opportunity cost due to the loss of revenue while the truck is under repair.

IoT Keeps Trucks on the Road

truck, computer and charts.

Another piece of technology already in use is Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC). This data is collected continuously while the vehicle is in operation. A downside to this technology is that it has raw data so it has to be correlated with other information to pinpoint trouble spots. In a way, DTC provides data but requires additional information in order to work. Mechanics using DTC data have to manually go over each part and equipment to find the potential source of the problem.

Peterbilt Motors Company, a Denton, Texas-based manufacturer of mid-sized to heavy duty trucks, has created a bold solution which uses IoT coupled with DTC to pinpoint where the problem area might occur. The 78-year old company created a system which uses automation software and analytics to deploy enhanced fault guidance. The raw data comes from DTCs, repair histories and fleet operating conditions. The company has been able to help their customers forecast possible mechanical failures thereby increasing uptime.

The current status for trucks is a long way from ideal. However, with other sensors coming on line either due to innovation or through regulation, the data to be gathered could prove to be instrumental to creating proper diagnostics. With preventive maintenance standards in place, this can also help further increase uptime for fleets.

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