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“Digital exhaust” a struggle for fleet owners

Fleet owners are being fed data through a fire hose and need better support systems to make sense of it all, agreed a panel of experts participating in a connectivity solutions forum held at ACTEXPO during the morning session on April 23.   

“You are generating so much data, you are throwing it at fleet leaders,”  said Amit Saini, a vice president with Noodle.AI.

In lieu of data, Saini said, fleets are basing operations on the law of averages – e.g., conducting maintenance checks every 50,000 miles, on average,  “Not  running a business based on the law of averages is the difference between mediocrity and greatness,” Saini said.

Executives with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) described their approach to connectivity and how fleet owners can better mine those solutions for actionable intelligence. 

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) builds trucks, and its connectivity approach, manifest in its Detroit Connect platform, focuses on truck-centric solutions like fuel efficiency and remote diagnostics, said Jason Krajewski, DTNA’s director of truck connectivity.

Beyond  those capabilities, Daimler looks to outside partners for solutions. “Should OEMs get into the connectivity space?” asked Krajewski. “It’s a balancing act.”

Volvo believes connectivity and automation are the keys to sustainable cities, and its approach is rooted in public-private partnerships, said Aravind Kailas, research and innovation manager at Volvo Group.

Aravind described a few examples – notably, a recent demonstration of its Eco-Drive technology along two connected freight corridors in Carson, California. The project was led by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and is funded by the California Climate Investments program.

By integrating traffic signal data with vehicle dynamics, the platform provides real-time speed recommendations to truck drivers, allowing them to regulate driving speed, reduce noise and emissions and increase road safety, Kailas said.

Rachel Suttle, connected vehicle program manager at Hino Trucks, described the company’s INSIGHT platform, which comes built-in to every new Hino truck. The platform delivers telematics, remote diagnostics and case management, with a focus on user applications.

“Telematics provide a great deal of data for fleets to take in,” Suttle said. “We want to give bite-size pieces of information you need.” For example, fleets might discover their idle time is 20 percent, but an even more useful data point can be found in a Hino benchmark report showing how their idle time compares to all Hino trucks in service. “Then they can make adjustments.”

Eric Foellmer, director of marketing, XL Fleet, said the maker of hybrid and electric powertrains for commercial fleets offers a sustainability telematics solution that can help customers monitor two commonly requested metrics – miles per gallon and emissions reductions.

Like Hino, XL maintains a dashboard that tracks data across fleets. But that information is not yet available to customers who might benefit from the cross-comparison.

Foellmer and the panel agreed more collaboration needs to take place between OEMs, fleet managers, drivers and public agencies, so that end-users understand how and why data can be impactful.

“Trucking is second to social media in the amount of digital exhaust being created,” said Saini.

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Linda Baker, Staff Writer

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves staff reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes early-stage VC, freight-tech, mobility and West Coast emissions regulations.

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