Just the TIP of the iceberg

From the May 2016 issue.

Europe’s leading equipment services provider, TIP Trailer Services, has co-operated with Knorr-Bremse to create a trailer-specific telematics solution that has the potential to revolutionise modern fleet management.

It was only a question of time until the global app craze would reach the transport equipment industry. With anything from banking to grocery shopping now manageable via smartphone, the advent of an app that could access critical trailer data was merely the next logical step on humankind’s journey to a fully connected society.

To date, however, many a foray into the field has failed to deliver tangible value for transport businesses – mainly because keeping up a wireless feedback cycle between trailer and smartphone is still a relatively complex undertaking, but also because the information collected with first generation services simply didn’t hit the spot. With an infinite amount of information accessible via modern electronic control systems, extracting – and managing – usable data has become the true challenge of the digital age.

Based on the company’s Intelligent Trailer Access Point (iTAP) hardware – first unveiled at the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in 2014 – Knorr-Bremse’s latest FleetRemote software could be one of the first Wi-Fi-based telematics systems advanced enough to overcome the data palsy that accompanied first generation technology, in turn creating the first genuinely ‘transparent’ cohort of commercial vehicles in the world.

Developed in collaboration with TIP Trailer Services, the software was tailored to suit the often overlooked trailer industry and does not, as many a product in the field, build on a truck-based telematics or tracking device. Instead, it is based on  iTAP as a separate trailer unit that is directly linked to the Electronic Braking System of the trailer (TEBS).

The data extracted via FleetRemote is distributed via open Wi-Fi hotspots while the truck is still on the road and passed on via central servers to a two-way smart phone or tablet app that not can not only display the information to the driver, but also act on it and adjust certain parameters remotely.

“There is nothing wrong with a good telematics package in a truck,” says Peter Sijs, Sourcing/Services Operations Director at TIP’s Amsterdam head office and the mastermind behind FleetRemote’s most recent incarnation. “In fact, it’s essential for a modern transport operation, especially in terms of performance monitoring and load security. But to keep track of a pulled unit, you need a different solution. You don’t necessarily need to know where the vehicle is – the truck will tell you that kind of information – but you need to know how it is and be aware of potential hardware issues.”

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