We're hearing a lot today about the “smart home.” As part of the Internet of Things (IoT) concept of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, smart homes let you monitor temperatures, door locks, lighting, and a lot more.
Like a number of my customers, you might be wondering if the smart home idea could practically transfer to a “smart trailer” concept, which would allow you to monitor what's going on inside and outside your trailers at all times.
Well, glad you asked, because this is precisely where our industry is heading. According to a recent Forrester Study, 96% of transportation and logistics professionals say that IoT is the most strategic initiative they've seen in a decade. (See the infographic below for more information on the study.)
The p roactive t railer
The more we know about trailers and trailer loads, the better. Smart trailers will be able to communicate a wealth of invaluable information over standard Wi-Fi networks and Wide Area Networks (WANs) at the point of origin, en route or at the warehouse and distribution center. They will also be able to function whether tethered to a cab, or untethered in a yard, using modular power sources such as solar, rechargeable batteries, power line or wireless connectivity. And that's just the beginning.
What w ill t hey d o f or y ou?
Smart trailers make use of trailer tags that can sense trailer location separate from cab location, in case a trailer becomes lost or is stolen. They'll monitor and measure interior conditions ranging from temperature to humidity to movement and load shifting. They'll read smart labels on packages, proactively reporting up-to-the-minute data to ensure load integrity, whether you're transporting electronic components, strawberries, pharmaceutical products, or diapers. They will also report on trailer performance metrics and maintenance needs.
On the d ock
On the loading dock and throughout the hub, smart trailers will automate previously manual actions. These include providing unique dock door, loader and unloader IDs to make sure the trailer is at the right dock at the right time. They will also report on how fast they're loaded and send alerts when loading is about to be completed, helping optimize asset productivity and reduce costly idle time.
On the r oad
On the inside of the trailer, automated sensor technology keeps you up-to-date on load dynamics during transport. Smart trailers will instantly report load shifts and provide real-time temperature monitoring to make sure refrigerated loads are being maintained within specified ranges. They also use a global positioning system (GPS) to tell you their exact location at any given time.
In the y ard
In typical freight yards, hundreds of trailers can be standing idle, waiting to be attended to. Smart trailer technology gives you crucial data on these trailers automatically, eliminating the need to send a worker to check each unit manually. Even when not paired to a cab or tractor, smart trailer intelligence sends real-time information: is the trailer empty or loaded, is the temperature holding within specified ranges, is the door locked or unlocked, has the load been tampered with?
The s harpest t railers in the f leet
Smart trailers help customers gain invaluable information and insights on trailer and load status from one end of the supply chain to the other. When it comes to fleet operations, they are definitely going to be the sharpest tools in the shed.