It wasn’t that long ago that many analysts believed the demise of BlackBerry was close at hand. They were so wrong.
While the company no longer produces its own smartphones, it has developed a significant niche providing cybersecurity software and other technologies, including the platform that Ford’s Sync communications system is built on.
The company is also forging ahead with a path to take over the trucking industry – or least grab a significant share of the market. Its BlackBerry Radar solution is the latest example and one that Philip Poulidis, senior vice president & general manager of BlackBerry’s IoT business, firmly believes in.
“The product is a culmination of many areas of expertise in BlackBerry from our decades of experience in secure mobile communications,” he tells FreightWaves. “We didn’t want to release a ‘me-too’ product & we didn’t want to release just a ‘track-and-trace’ product either.”
Radar, launched in 2016, provides track and trace capabilities, of course, but it can do so much more. The solution provides multi-sensor reporting through the cloud, Poulidis notes. Unlike competing devices, it also is an all-in-one unit that attaches to the inside of the trailer doors.
If tracking is what you want, Radar will transmit trailer location every 5 minutes and seamlessly integrates with TMS systems. If you want temperature monitoring or humidity monitoring, it can do that as well.
“A lot of competitive solutions require you to add sensors that are wired, [usually] at the front of the trailer,” Poulidis explains. “Radar is not wired and can be installed in an [already] loaded trailer.”
Installation takes about 10 minutes, he says. Data collection can assist with geofencing, asset utilization, maintenance, dwell and detention recording.
But while Radar can handle all this data – BlackBerry says it can collect up to 100 times more data than a basic GPS tracker – it is a feature that has been in the product since its launch that is now gaining more traction – the ability to identify how much cargo is in a trailer.
“We scatter a lot of infrared light inside the trailer to take measurements,” Poulidis says. “It takes the reading from the front of the trailer to the back, which is how trailers are loaded.”
The infrared light bounces off objects in the trailer back to the mounted device, which calculates the distance and determines how much space is still available in the trailer for cargo.
As more fleets look to utilize unused capacity, this is becoming a new area that is being explored – especially by e-commerce companies that move partial trailer loads and are looking to do so as a lower price than traditional LTL.
BigRoad recently added freight matching capabilities to its ELD device, hoping to tap into an expense that drivers and fleets had anyway – the ELD – and turn that expense into a profit-making operation. CEO Tony Lourakis told FreightWaves back in December that eventually LTL load matching would be added.
Using a system like Radar, that process could be automated. “You can actually increase your revenue and tighten your capacity in trailers,” Poulidis notes.
Radar can automatically transmit available space in the trailer and the fleet manager or driver could then check load boards or shippers along the route for possible freight to fill the trailer. Currently, that’s a manual process, but it won’t be long before an app simply identifies possible loads along a route based on available capacity.
The success of Radar is part of the turnaround story for BlackBerry.
“Over the last 4 years, it’s been very transformative for the company,” Poulidis proudly states. “BlackBerry leveraged a lot of its DNA (secure communications) of the company and endpoints. We’ve turned ourselves into an enterprise cybersecurity and data company.”
The company’s QNX platform is the basis for Ford’s Sync system and is deployed in over 65 million vehicles worldwide, Poulidis says, and is a part of BlackBerry’s connected future.
“We have a huge focus on connected transportation,” he notes, adding that the company is working on cybersecurity operating systems for autonomous vehicles – including commercial vehicles.
At the recent Detroit Auto Show, CEO John Chen introduced Jarvis. Jarvis is a binary static analysis Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tool that checks the millions of lines of code in vehicles to ensure data integrity and security of software components.
Modern vehicles can have over 100 million lines of software code in them, and each company wants to make sure that another company’s code – or issues with that code - will not interfere with the operation of their components, Poulidis says. Jarvis helps do that.
It’s another tool that BlackBerry is deploying as it builds itself into a modern supply chain technology company.
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