The Internet of Things, or IoT, is being rapidly adopted by the transportation industry in order to make fleets more efficient, reduce operating costs, increase safety, automate processes, and provide greater asset visibility. Wikipedia defines the IoT as a network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enables these things to connect, collect, and exchange data. As reported by Forbes, the IDC predicts that approximately 80 billion physical devices will be connected to the Internet by 2025.
Fleet managers and owner-operators keen to explore how to use the IoT to create more connected and competitive fleets need look no farther than these digestible 4 steps as outlined by Digitalist Magazine:
1. Equip Your Vehicles with Internet of Things Enabled Sensors
The first step in enabling the IoT is to fasten sensors to your trucks to collect an abundance of valuable data about your fleet. According to a recent article in Freight Waves, Roambee produces “bright yellow devices the size of a few sticks of butter that can attach to shipments or vehicles and monitor condition and location for 90 days on a single battery charge, pinging hourly.” If a truck is diverted or a package is opened, an alert goes out instantaneously to Roambee’s 24/7 network operations center. This visibility solution technology, called “smart tags,” allows pallets to communicate to trailers, containers to communicate with trucks, and trucks to automatically coordinate with the rest of the fleet in real time.
2. Capture Sensor Data and Conduct Condition Monitoring
Sensors transmit critical data to a central location so that it is much easier to monitor the changing conditions of the trucks in a fleet. An example provided by Digitalist is tire pressure: “if the tire pressure of one of your vehicles is too low, you can receive an alert and address the issue before it becomes a major problem—like a blowout on a busy highway.”
3. Analyze Data Continuously to Identify Areas for Improvement
IoT and sensor data can also be used to detect areas for improvement. Gary Wollenhaupt, writing about fleet management for Samsung, emphasizes that IoT data and analytics can populate a central dashboard that focuses on identifying spare capacity on particular routes or destination pairs and analytics can provide suggestions for consolidating and optimizing routes: “This additional visibility would create fleet efficiencies, improve fuel economy and reduce deadhead miles, which account for up to 10 percent of truck miles.”
4. Reimagine Business Processes
Lastly, the Internet of Things can help optimize day-to-day fleet operations. “From a logistics perspective,” states Digitalist, “this could mean enhancing delivery strategies, cutting travel costs, or reducing emissions.” Or all of the above. “If two drivers leave from the same location but use different routes to travel to the same destination, sensor data could help identify which driver arrived faster, paid fewer tolls, or conserved more fuel.” A trucking company could then standardize a delivery route based on these valuable IoT-provided insights.
The Internet of the 21st century does not simply reside on computers, laptops, iPads, and mobile phones. The sooner fleet managers and owner-operators can bring the Internet to their vehicles through IoT-enabled physical devices, the greater the potential to create safer and more productive fleets.