Until recently, telematics systems for semi-trailers were new. Many carriers questioned even the purposefulness of using such solutions. Why track a semi-trailer, if you can track a tractor? However, the solution has been adopted on the market and specialists forecast a huge increase in popularity in the following years.
Telematics allows you to register and transfer information from vehicles to the system that supervises it. The data goes to the system operator’s servers, constituting a database of information about where and how the vehicle and its driver operate. The clear benefits of using telematics do not mean that solutions of this kind have become commonplace.
Research shows, for example, that only every fifth transport company invests in any telematics solutions for semi-trailers (in Europe they are used in case of about 3.7 million semi-trailers). Despite this, the Swedish consulting company Berg predicts that in four years the number of trailers with telematics will increase by a factor of two and a half. Their number will increase to about 9 million. According to the researchers, this will be a response to the requirements of customers, because they want to know exactly what is happening with the car and the transported load.
Data from the tractor itself is not enough here, because it will not show, for example, the temperature inside the cold store
The basic task of telematics devices is „tracking” the monitored objects. The solutions are offered, among others, by the semi-trailer manufacturers themselves. The suppliers of Krone TControl emphasize that each of the trailers as well as the entire fleet can be monitored (all is presented on the map). It does not matter what kind of semi-trailers are in a given fleet. Even if a fleet consists of different types of semi-trailers, all are covered by one system (which an include trailers with tilts, popular „sub-containers” or isothermal or cold store trailers).
The key from the point of view of the owners of semi-trailers is the ability to supervise individual technical parameters of the vehicle
Interestingly, more and more „trailer systems” are being introduced by tractor manufacturers, hoping to increase the efficiency of transport sets. The factory Mercedes system, Uptime, has recently been updated with a new function that is able to diagnose the technical condition of a semi-trailer. The control covers the main systems: brake air supply and air suspension, brake control and trailer or trailer socket. If the system reveals a leak in the compressed air circuit of the semi-trailer’s braking system, it reports it directly, allowing a quick response. Uptime obtains the information about the trailer’s condition through a conventional socket, pneumatic connections, and communication interface (CAN bus).
Uptime is extended to detect problems with trailers and semi-trailer. Thus, we fulfill our promise of gradual, successive completion of this system, so as to offer customers an optimal solution to increase the availability of the entire road set – explains Stefan Buchner, the head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks. The functionality is activated automatically for Uptime users.
In the case of temperature-controlled semi-trailers, the progress in telematic technology somehow forces the recipients of such goods to use them in order to make sure the cargo travels in optimal conditions. It is about full monitoring of temperature, humidity or light practically all along the way, from the producer to the consumer (so that food products, flowers or pharmaceuticals do not lose organoleptic or physicochemical values). The solutions are similar and based on a set of certified temperature sensors evenly distributed in the cargo space of the semi-trailer. They send information about the temperature in the semitrailer chambers directly to the central system. This information in aggregate form reaches the server, and it happens at strict intervals (defined by the user of the trailer). The data can be displayed and analyzed, and the temperature course can be saved in a file, creating a document confirming the transport of the goods at the optimum temperature for the final recipient.
An example is the Blulog solutions, temperature and humidity recorders, intended for refrigerated vehicles. They can generate alerts in real time (SMS or e-mail notifications whenever „preset” limits have been exceeded). The recorders of this type were used, among others in the first containers on the market for transport and storage, and equipped with an electronic system, allowing to obtain information about the temperature and geolocation of the load, without the need to provide an external power source (the diode immediately indicates whether the cooling chain was damaged during transport).
In trailers, Loggicar – radio loggers for monitoring temperature and humidity can also be used. They can be connected wirelessly with four temperature and humidity sensors (e.g. cold store, evaporator air inlet and outlet, product temperature) and four binary signals (opening of side and rear doors, defrosting, aggregate operation). Attention is paid to the ease of installation, it consists in the placement of sensors in the cargo space and the activation of the control module (the devices can be installed within approx. 5 minutes). After switching off the vehicle engine Loggicar – R still records, thanks to the built-in battery.
Semi-trailer telematics is also supposed to be a kind of „guard” of semi-trailers, preventing interference from unauthorized persons
The relevant certificates are becoming more and more important, indicating that the semi-trailer meets various requirements (e.g. TAPA-TSR, Transported Asset Protection Association – Truck Security Requirements). It is gradable (from 1 to 3; 1 means the highest degree of safety). Door Protect is one of such solutions, the doors are automatically locked, and they can be opened only when the dispatcher issues the appropriate authorization via telematics and the driver enters the correct security code (often the system is not only a rear door lock, but also electronic roof monitoring and sides of a trailer).
More and more often we are dealing with complex solutions that, in the opinion of suppliers of semi-trailers, have the greatest future. The semi-trailers are supplied with a telematics package: tire pressure monitoring, ramp support, and a developed cooling system for the cold store (monitoring of the geographical location, door, cooling temperature, condition of the refrigeration unit or … the state of the coupling).
Schmitz Cargobull offers factory telematics under the name TrailerConnect. The system, in addition to the basic vehicle positioning function, provides various telematic data such as mileage, door opening/closing status, cargo space temperature, man-hours and refrigeration unit alarms, as well as the charge of the aggregate battery in the case of a refrigerated trailer, we can also check the loading status vehicle, and complete all this with data from EBS. Telematics also allows you to create various combinations and analyzes – reports EWT Truck & Trailer Poland.
Telematics for trailers follows the trend observed in other areas, i.e. solutions for mobile devices are beginning to dominate. Specialists have high hopes for solutions awarded during the last edition of the Trailer Innovation competition. This is for example the iTAP application with the FleetRemote module (Knorr-Bremse and TIP Trailer Services), allowing a remote control of the devices via a smartphone or tablet. Sitting in the tractor cab, the driver can check the pressure in individual wheels of the semi-trailer, axle loads, temperature in the cold store, voltage in the electrical system or the state of the braking system (moving the finger on the smartphone screen, for example, can lower or increase the level of pneumatic suspension at the loading ramp). FleetRemote also provides access to data for the fleet manager.
Apps that facilitate the service of fleets consisting of semi-trailers of various brands (also those that are being rented) are also more popular
Data from various sources can be collected and integrated on the Finder Online platform. The fleet operator knows when the load has been taken, at what is its exact location, at what speed it travels, and when it has reached the destination. The transport manager can use the alarm or notification function. The system automatically transmits appropriate messages in the event of exceeding the assumed vehicle operation parameters, e.g speeding or proper transport temperature (e.g. food products). The signaling of leaving or entering a defined geographical zone allows for preparing a cargo for pick up or a warehouse for receiving goods in advance. Some of the solutions enabling remote management of the trailer/semi-trailer regardless of the towing vehicle.
With the help of an advanced tool that offers real-time monitoring of a trailer or semi-trailer from anywhere in the world, the Helios system (Emtech) can, for example, monitor the entire route: start and arrival times, stops and deviations, find out (via SMS or e-mail) about deviations from the route, supervise working time and timely execution of tasks, obtain information on unauthorized stops and stops.
The scope of data about the semi-trailer/trailer provided by Helios Advanced telematics includes information about braking system errors, overloading, etc. The On the Air system gives the possibility of remote programming of the device. The online application and the mobile application (Android, iOS) allows to supervise the vehicle from both the computer and mobile devices (phone, tablet), and the „open” system allows integration with other devices of a similar type, such as navigation systems or immobilizers.