Phillips Connect made several announcements to help fleets and drivers benefit from smarter trailers, including new smart nosebox gateways, backup cameras, and a partnership with Utility to launch the Utility Connect trailer telematics system.
The announcements were made during a press conference at the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition on March 6.
Phillips told reporters that the company has installed more smart-trailer telematics solutions in North America than all of its competitors combined. The company is growing, investing in new facilities, multiple key hires, and new manufacturing lines and equipment. It has increased its annual global R&D plan by more than 300% since January 2021.
Utility Trailer Telematics System
Utility Trailer announced its Utility Connect trailer telematics system, which it is launching with Phillips Connect as its exclusive partner.
The Utility Connect system uses Utility’s proprietary wiring harness, which has been reengineered to work with the Phillips Connect Smart7 nosebox.
At launch, Utility Connect will include GPS trailer tracking, light-out detection, intelligent ABS fault code reporting, tire inflation system monitoring, and the ability to connect to additional sensors (sold separately) such as door open/closed, ultrasonic cargo detection, and interior cargo cameras.
It also has built-in expansion capabilities, offering over-the-air communication updates that will integrate with advanced tire pressure monitoring systems, Bendix’s Roll-Stability system, trailer weight, air tank pressure, and optional brake pad wear-sensors for disc brakes. Future systems will include connection to reefer units and liftgates for monitoring status and maintenance.
Because Phillips Industries is the standard wiring harness supplier for Utility Trailer, upgrading to the telematics version of its existing harness can be done without slowing trailer production rates. All connections of the Utility harness are soldered, and connections are over-molded.
The Connect1 online or mobile platform displays all the critical alerts for a trailer on just one screen. Fleets with multiple telematics solutions can use it to get to the right provider’s platform with a few keystrokes and a single click.
Smart Nosebox GPS Gateways
Phillips Connect introduced three new smart nosebox GPS gateways. Retrofittable or specified on new equipment, the new Phillips Connect Smart noseboxes transform trailers into managed assets that provide telematics benefits with a positive ROI, according to the announcement.
The Smart S7 Swiveling Nosebox, Smart Q-Box, and Smart iBox are advanced cellular gateways, GPS trackers, and sensor hubs that deliver total awareness of trailer location, status, and critical trailer conditions to the cloud. All are equipped with a Phillips Quick-Change-Socket (QCS2) Sta-Dry 7-way connection requiring no additional harnessing or electrical connections.
Integrated sensors include GPS location, tractor power, and ABS PLC data such as VIN, fault lamp status, and trouble codes. Additionally, data from a wide variety of external sensors are available through Bluetooth LE, GPIO, and an extendable RS485-based Phillips Connect PCT Bus.
The Smart S7 swiveling nosebox offers additional benefits to fleets. The swivel feature, developed by Phillips Industries a decade ago, allows cables to simply follow the movement of the truck when the truck/trailer combination has to maneuver into tight spaces, creating a severe angle between them. This situation can result in expensive and time-consuming damage to the trailer-side connections. The Smart S7 swiveling nosebox accommodates a turn up to 80 degrees (40 degrees left or 40 degrees right) and will automatically disconnect the electrical connection if the turn exceeds that angle.
The new gateway devices operate on the Connect1 platform, which provides complete fleet analytics through personalized dashboards. By fully customizing the Connect1 dashboards, fleets can see the real-time status of an entire operation through custom notifications, geofences, reports, and more.
Backup Cameras for Trailers
Why is it that every car produced comes with a built-in backup camera, yet truckers, who have more than 60 feet from their eyes to the bumper of their trailer, still back up blindly? Phillips decided to address that problem with new BackupVision cameras.
The cameras have less than 1 second of latency (the time it takes the video to get from the back of the trailer to the cab) and integrated spotlights. Phillips is giving ELD manufacturers full access to the data free of charge so that it can be displayed on those screens.
There is a wired version for swing doors and a wireless, solar-powered version for roll-up doors. Both communicate via WiFi to the cab’s ELD or driver’s smart phone. Drivers use a QR Code to get the video feed on their smartphones.
The camera offers a 180-degree view and more than 20 feet of visibility behind the trailer, according to Phillips.
Additional smart features are available when the cameras are paired with a Phillips Connect gateway, such as uploading images to cloud and video storage when impacts are detected.
Phillips promised a simple 10-minute installation on loaded or unloaded trailers, and fast programming with the IOS or Android mobile app.
In the future, BackupVision camera information could be relayed to the driver information screens we’re increasingly seeing in the dash of trucks. Rob Phillips, CEO of Phillips Industries and Phillips Connect, told reporters that he would like to see that happen, there’s not much interest from OEs right now.
“They’re only interested in the truck. The trailer is just something it pulls.” He said it’s time for standardized view screens in truck cabs to facilitate technology such as trailer cams.