Today's Telematics Platforms Are Enabling Tomorrow's Logistics Ecosystem

Andrew Dondlinger, VP - Connected Services, NavistarAndrew has been associated with Navistar for over 14 years now, prior to which he has managed key responsibilities across IBM, PwC Consulting, and Price Waterhouse.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the smartphone, it's amazing to reflect how completely this small device has revolutionized many aspects of our lives bringing together personal data, productivity tools, and communications capabilities in ways we couldn't have anticipated before June 2007. And the smartphone's potential appears infinitely expandable, with `app stores' teeming with millions of solutions developed by third-party innovators.

We now stand on the threshold of a similar revolution in freight logistics, with tremendous productivity enhancements being delivered through the technology platform used for truck telematics, and many more likely to come. The telematics platform was initially used only as a means to stay abreast of trucks' location. However, this same platform now offers multiple quantum leaps of logistics benefit for shippers, improving trucks' reliability, safety, productivity and efficiency as well as trucks' competitiveness compared to other forms of transportation.

Enhancing Vehicle Reliability
The telematics platform's benefit, of course, starts with improved vehicle maintenance. By sending a steady stream of vehicle system data to
fleet managers, telematics devices have for years provided alerts about potential breakdowns, giving drivers the means to know the exact meaning of that flashing red light on the dashboard. Today, telematics systems' data-based Fault Code Action Plans go even further, telling drivers not just what the problem is, but also what to do next: stop now, service the vehicle immediately or service it soon. Advance notice of major issues has made it possible to convert up to 80 percent of unplanned break downs into planned maintenance, thus reducing repair costs by as much as 30 percent, while also speeding the movement of shippers' goods.

Going even further are open-architecture telematics systems like Navistar's OnCommand Connection, which aggregates the data streams from multiple telematics service providers into one convenient web-based portal, where fleet managers can monitor their entire fleet regardless of vehicles' make. Now, thanks to the advent of big-data analytics, fleet maintenance managers are also able to pinpoint whether a given part needs to be replaced on every vehicle in the fleet, versus just one or two. This enables fleets to convert `proactive' maintenance campaigns into more-precise, `predictive' maintenance that can save even medium-sized fleets hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

The data from other new apps connected to universal telematics devices can help address imbalances in trucking industry economics

Still newer apps allow vehicle data to be remotely fed into service facilities' systems so that when a truck driver arrives to have his or her vehicle serviced, the service technician already knows what the problem is, and has ordered the parts to fix it. Advance diagnostics can even link to `smart repair routing systems', sending drivers to a truck service facility that not only has the right part needed to repair a vehicle but also the right technical expertise and available service bays.

Improving Truck Safety and Productivity
Additional innovations deliver more than enhanced truck reliability alone, yielding advanced productivity for truckers and the shippers they serve. `Over-the-air programming', for example, `re-flashes' engine control modules remotely, using a safe, secure Wi-Fi connection thus removing the need to take your vehicles to a dealer or local maintenance location for this purpose.