What is a smart trailer? Spireon says it has an answer, with its recent introduction of Intelligent Trailer Management.
“For the last two years we’ve been hearing so many people talk about smart trailers – I get asked by my customers every day,” says Roni Taylor, senior vice president of strategy and business development at Spireon. Everything from liftgates to wiring harnesses are being billed as “smart.”
“Today the term ‘smart trailer’ is broad, blurry, and leaves carriers unsure of how an investment in such systems would generate a clear return,” Taylor says. “So what we’re announcing today is that we are defining it for the marketplace, as Intelligent Trailer Management."
When Spireon first introduced its telematics solution in 2011, it centered around rich data, Taylor says, as a way to take telematics beyond simple trailer tracking. “Intelligent Trailer Management is the next generation of rich data."
The cornerstone of this new platform is Spireon’s FleetLocate fleet and asset intelligence solution that leverages telematics technology. With over 1 billion data events per month, FleetLocate is designed to translate these data points into actionable intelligence so fleet and asset managers have the information they need.
“One of the biggest hurdles for carriers is, what do I do with all this information once I get it?” Taylor says. “So we’re being very careful and working closely with our customers to release all of these products and these sensors in a way that they can consume the data.”
Spireon’s Intelligent Trailer Management provides:
- Smart sensor integration: Integration with proprietary and third-party smart sensors to increase trailer visibility, drive efficiency, lower maintenance costs, and reduce CSA violations. Expanded sensor suites including automatic tire inflation systems, tire pressure monitoring systems, door sensors, temperature probes and more can be customized, Spireon said, because no two fleets’ needs are the same.
- Advanced IntelliScan cargo sensing: This is an enhanced version of Spireon’s Intelliscan cargo sensing technology, which uses time-of-flight lasers and optical imaging for cargo detection inside the trailer. Image capture inside the trailer can go beyond simple loaded/unloaded status, into visualizing cargo and pinpointing when load status change or damages have occurred. It also includes volumetric analysis, determining how much of the trailer is actually loaded, so less-than-truckload carriers can maximize capacity.
- Data sharing and custom analytics: Expanded ability to share data with customers via new APIs, extended TMS integration and data warehouse sharing via Spireon’s recently announced partnership with Snowflake. Fleets can access thousands of assets and years of historical data in seconds. It also opens the door for fleets to combine telematics data with third-party data sources, Spireon said.
- Actionable intelligence: Providing the right insight at the right time by leveraging telematics and sensor data to generate new business intelligence, more advanced KPIs, dashboard visualizations, and targeted maintenance modules.
Larry Hall, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Premier Trailer Leasing, adds some insight into where ITM is headed.
“We look out into the future where the data derived from these systems eventually becomes predictive through heuristics—ways to help humans crunch this information. So instead of saying, ‘Hey, you’ve got 18,000 miles on this trailer, so at 25,000, you should do a maintenance inspection.’ It can say, ‘Hey, we have sensed how many times the brakes have been applied, and not only the application of the brakes, but the pressure on the pedal.’ And that information is analyzed to predict how it will affect the brake shoes, so we know that within the next 60 days, we’re going to need a brake job, or a wheel end, or more closely check the tire tread depth.”
Taylor notes that trailer tracking still does not have the penetration in trucking that one might expect. “I think the penetration of trailer tracking is still under 30%. The top 100 trucking companies, most of them have it, except the LTLs. But you get down into the midsize carriers and they don’t have trailer tracking. We’re seeing a huge pickup [in business from] folks with 1,000 trailers, 700 trailers, a lot of brand-new adoption happening there. All these years we’ve talked about trailer tracking, but unlike the tractor, you still don’t have to have it. But I think the industry is starting to see it can make a difference.”