Trailer telematics can do more than tell you where your assests are. - Photo: Jim Park

Trailer telematics can do more than tell you where your assests are.

Photo: Jim Park

Shippers spend $800 billion annually on transportation and logistics for goods worth an estimated $14 trillion. In many cases, the information that motor carriers provide their customers about shipments in transit is just, if not more, valuable than the contents themselves.

Increasingly, motor carriers are providing their customers with status updates directly from trailer telematics platforms. The data requested is often not just the location but also the condition of the cargo. Motor carriers that provide their customers with richer information have a market advantage, especially for high-value and perishable shipments.

The value of using trailer telematics data for customer service and operations is already well understood by carriers. In operations, for example, carriers are able to provide their drivers with exact locations of trailers in a yard to pick up, thus eliminating the time and frustration spent searching for assets.

Where many carriers see the next opportunity for trailer telematics is using data analysis and visualization tools to meet specific needs by department and individual user role. With that in mind, here are five areas where data analysis tools can unlock the full potential of trailer telematics.

1. Maximize Location-Based Intelligence

Setting up geofences at customers and other locations where trailers are used gives data a proper context and meaning. A fleet may have a contractual obligation to keep a certain number of trailers at a customer location. An automated daily report could notify an operations manager if the location is short on trailers or has too many. On an aggregate level, geofencing helps carriers manage trailer pools across their network to optimize equipment buying and selling decisions, to identify which locations to pull trailers from, and to strategically position their assets.

2. Drive Action with Data Insights

Telematics platforms tap into the “brains” of assets and components to extract and analyze data. The real-time analysis can identify critical exceptions and route them to the proper person for corrective actions. Examples of actions may include:

  • billing a customer when a trailer is detained for loading or unloading
  • investigating why a trailer’s doors were opened at an unauthorized location
  • contacting a driver if a trailer is attached to the wrong tractor
  • scheduling maintenance if an asset has low tire pressure or an electrical problem.

3. Create KPIs and Track Progress

Motor carriers with diverse operations can use a single telematics platform to create key performance indicators and automate reporting for all equipment types and operating divisions, from dry van to flatbed, refrigerated, tanker and intermodal. Platforms that can bring this data together make it possible for fleets to have company-wide reporting and visibility that drives accountability with custom user dashboards.

4. Increase Visibility with Smart Sensors

New developments in cargo imaging can instantly analyze complex data sets and simplify decision processes. A volumetric cargo sensor and camera product, for example, can give fleets accurate data on the capacity filled or remaining in their trailers. With this information, a fleet can add another pickup to a route, for example, to maximize revenue. The sensor can also provide images of the cargo inside. By going beyond simple loaded/unloaded status to visualize the cargo, fleets can pinpoint when the load status has changed or when damages have occurred.

5. Customize Reporting for Individual Users

Trailer telematics platforms can deliver data insights through custom user dashboards by department, such as customer service, operations and maintenance. The dashboards can have KPIs and other unique reports. Operations, for example, may want a report on detention times for each customer to hold them accountable, as well as have visibility to trailer load/unload status to dispatch drivers as soon as assets are available and ready for pickup. To meet the ever-changing information needs of fleets, technology must have the flexibility to deliver new insights to users as needs arise.

As the possibilities for collecting and monitoring trailer telematics data continue to grow, motor carriers that focus on the analysis of that data are best positioned to unlock value from their platforms to positively impact the bottom line, month after month.

About the Author: Terri Lucas is vice president of sales at trailer and asset tracking provider SkyBitz. With the company for more than four years, she "identifies and captures market opportunities to accelerate expansion and increase profit contributions," according to the company. This article was authored and edited according to HDT editorial standards and style to provide useful information to our readers. Opinions expressed may not reflect those of HDT.