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How automated fleet management streamlines operations

Automated Fleet Management Systems have completely revolutionized logistics. Most importantly, fleet management has become simplified. Complicated data entry processes have been eliminated. Equipment tracking has become a background activity—transparent to field operations.

Drivers are free to drive. Dispatchers and operation clerks can focus on moving cargo. Gone are the days when operations were bogged down with data entry and computer system maintenance.

A few decades ago, all equipment tracking depended on drivers, shippers, and consignees manually recording times and locations. Data was then entered during normal business hours, sometimes days or weeks after an event. During this cumbersome process, errors crept into the data. Equipment was commonly misplaced or lost. Satellite trailer locating was primitive, could only locate equipment within a few hundred feet, and only operated when queried. Information from multiple sources had to be compiled by hand, after the fact. Modern GPS Fleet Management can track equipment automatically, in real time.

Automated Fleet Management Systems have taken on many additional tasks—such as detecting component failure, reducing exposure to CSA & HOS costs/fines, reducing operational inefficiencies, and helping to deter cargo theft.

Automated Fleet Management Systems use predictive software to calculate Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) and Mean Time To Repair (MTTR). Both are critical to keeping equipment running, and reducing time needed in maintenance cycles.

In addition to detecting potential failure using statistical analysis—sensors can be placed to detect early physical signs of failure. Special sensors can detect: low tire pressure, burned out trailer lights, and monitor ABS systems.

Specialized sensors can detect issues with temperature control equipment, reducing spoilage to perishable cargo.

Early detection of equipment failure (or, potential equipment failure) means reduced maintenance costs, reduced down time, greater reliability, and reduced exposure to fines. Most importantly, early detection means a much reduced chance of injury to drivers and the general public.

It is no secret that there is a constant shortage of CDL drivers. Even in the worst of economic times, drivers are in high demand. The economic uptick in recent years has created many opportunities for drivers to “jump ship.” Increased competition for drivers will continue to be an ongoing struggle for transportation companies. Driver recruiting and retention will become an increasingly difficult task for many years to come, and a key element in transportation company survival.

A good Automated Fleet Management System reduces driver frustration. The system can accurately locate trailers and other equipment. Time spent “driving around looking for an empty” is reduced or eliminated. Trailer locations are automatically reported and accurately shown. Trailers are known to be empty, because a sensor detects that there is nothing inside. Guess work is greatly reduced.

Unproductive driver activities are reduced. This increases the total number of billable miles driven per day—which results in more money in the driver’s pocket. The company gets the benefit of additional billable miles per truck/month. The company also gets reduced operation cost because of the same reduction of unproductive driver activities—with no additional equipment-overhead costs. Driver pay is increased, while simultaneously decreasing costs to the transportation company.

Trip planning is greatly simplified. This directly benefits drivers and dispatchers—and indirectly benefits shippers, consignees, and the shipping company. Much of a driver’s, routine paperwork is handled automatically. This eliminates another point of driver frustration.

The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program is designed to improve safety and prevent accidents. CSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) uses detailed data analysis to identify high-risk motor carriers.

Motor carriers and equipment managers are increasingly using the SMS to “self-regulate”. Not only to reduce the possibility of being classified as a “high risk” carrier—but to to reduce hazards to drivers, equipment, and customer’s loads. In short—being in compliance with CSA is safer and improves the bottom line.

Hours of Service (HOS) rules impose restrictions on how many hours a driver can operate a commercial vehicle. These rules can be complicated. Violating these HOS rules can be costly in terms of fines—but also costly in terms of missed opportunities. Keeping the equipment running is important. Keeping the drivers rested is imperative.

Automated Fleet Management Systems can be designed to keep track of SMS and HOS. “Paperless Logs” can reduce errors, and bring a trucking company into full compliance with SMS. Drivers can be informed when HOS are running out. Trip planning can be accomplished with more information available.

GPS Trailer Tracking, GPS Container Location, and GPS Chassis Location pinpoints the exact time that an empty trailer arrives at a shipper and the exact time that a loaded trailer arrives at a consignee. Equipment managers can accurately (and automatically) track tractors, trailers, containers, chassis, customer loads, and drivers. This reduces detention and gets the driver and the equipment back on the road much faster.

Cargo Sensors automatically detect when a trailer has been emptied — greatly improving equipment utilization. Door sensors automatically keep track of when loading starts and stops

Auxiliary sensors can be added to the Automated Fleet Manager Systems. Temperature sensors are commonly mounted inside refrigerated trailers and containers. Powered equipment can have fuel level sensors—to detect when diesel levels are low—and automatically send a warning to the driver and/or equipment managers.

Equipment alarming has greatly decreased loss due to theft. Drivers and equipment managers can be automatically notified if trailer doors (or, container doors) are opened at an unauthorized location. Special sensors can detect if a containers is removed from a chassis at an unauthorized location.

Combined with GPS tracking, equipment managers and law enforcement are provided with detailed information in the case of equipment tampering.

In extreme situations, a Trailer Lock-Down System can “lock-up” the brakes — immobilizing a trailer or chassis, making it impossible to move

Phillips Connect Technologies (PCT) provides an open platform strategy. PCT is a universal integration system — starting with smart trailer sensors from trailer manufacturers, and adding 3rd party sensors — a complete system is assembled with plug-and-play integration

PCT provides driver alerts and updates fleet management dashboards. One master channel communicates information gathered by multiple smart-trailer components. Real-time analytics provide the basis for sound business decisions — including scheduling, dispatching, asset tracking, geofencing, and load sensing. Customers pick which smart sensors are needed. Phillips provides system integration. The data stream becomes a single source of information

PCT’s proprietorial Trailer LockDown™ and Trailer Door Lock/Unlock reduce exposure to loss by theft. Phillips provides the Internet Of Things (IOT) In Transportation And Logistics. All of this technology increases equipment uptime. As scheduling guess work is reduced, detention is decreased. Increase of uptime means an increase of fleet equipment utilization—and increased ROI.

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