Trailer tracking technology has been available for some time, although it’s still used by a relatively small percentage of trucking companies. Increasingly, however, technology is allowing carriers visibility into the cargo itself, which can lead to better efficiency in use of trailer space, faster unloading at the docks, and provide insight into detention and cargo claim issues.
Three companies showed off their latest developments into cargo visibility at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference and Exhibition in San Diego this fall.
PowerFleet’s inside look
PowerFleet (formerly ID Systems), showcased its LV-710 freight camera, which combines a high-definition camera, image recognition processor, door sensor, and cargo-area environmental sensors. It can be activated both by sensors and on demand and can be installed in swing or roll doors. It integrates with PowerFleet’s other LV cargo tracking devices.
This allows customers to get to the root cause for claims, including location and visual proof, and can provide information on the percentage of the box that’s loaded vs. empty.
CEO Chris Wolfe explained that the camera-based system can offer real-time visibility into what cargo is on a trailer and what equipment will be needed to unload it. Does the cargo need a forklift, for example? Or perhaps a specialized fork attachment? Or is the cargo something like tires that requires manual labor to unload?
Skybitz SmartTrailer volumetrics
Skybitz, which tracks approximately 650,000 trailers, announced a volumetric sensor with high-resolution camera, offering remote asset management customers a new option for monitoring trailer capacity within the SkyBitz SmartTrailer Ecosystem.
It features a camera that provides clear images of cargo along with accurate volumetric calculations for total cubic space as well as total floor space. According to Skybitz President Henry Popplewell, the availability of clear images along with volumetric data helps customers improve trailer loading to maximize utilization of total cubic space.
Popplewell said the detailed images can improve a customer’s entire supply chain strategy by letting them to quickly identify issues and communicate proper packaging methods with shipping customers, reducing costly damage claims, as well as lost revenue and time associated with repackaging freight to help avoid those claims.
“This is important for both truckload and less-than-truckload fleets, but we particularly find interest from LTL fleets,” he said. In testing with a fleet offering both TL and LTL that previously was using Skybitz on truckload trailers but not LTL, “They saw such a significant improvement in capacity of the trailer that the ROI just from that gave them a less than 12-month return on their investment.”
Spireon Advanced IntelliScan
Spireon’s new Advanced IntelliScan Platform is an enhanced version of its IntelliScan cargo sensing technology, which uses time-of-flight lasers and optical imaging technologies to deliver 99.9% cargo detection accuracy from inside a trailer. The new advanced platform goes beyond simple loaded/unloaded status to visualization of cargo and pinpointing when load status changes or damage has occurred. Volumetric analysis allows less-than-truckload carriers to maximize capacity.
“Because images are larger than the usual size packet sent through the telematics system, you can’t simply send one every minute – it would drain the battery and there are also data transmission cost and storage issues,” explains Reza Hemmati, vice president, product management. Instead, Spireon designed the system to respond to several “triggering events,” such as the trailer door opening or closing, to provide visual evidence of what a load looks like at the beginning and end of a trip – as well as any time the trailer opened up in route.
Hemmati said Spireon designers worked closely with fleet customers to get feedback and improve the platform to ensure they were addressing their concerns. “As our customers experienced Advanced IntelliScan Capabilities and started sharing images with them, we worked closely together on real-word cases, such as using them to resolve detention disputes or cargo damage or other issues they have told us cause them problems. Over time, we were able to determine potential return on investment, and found they could save $900,000 a year in billing savings and $240,000 in annual savings related to trailer readiness.”