November 23, 2016

On the Move: How the IoT is Helping Drive Logistics, Transportation Forward


The Internet of Things has already reached the business mainstream, and providers are serving organizations across the global economy with services, applications, connections, and technology that are available with minimal initial investment, are mature, secure, and scale up rapidly as each service proposition takes off and gains users.

The transportation and logistics sector has been among the earliest to embrace IoT and offers great examples of what IoT can achieve for businesses and their customers. Indeed, transportation tops analyst firm Forrester’s IoT Heat Map of sectors in which IoT is gaining the greatest traction.

IoT in the transportion and logistics sector is not confined to simply tracking vehicles. It also includes rich data analytics and extends across logistics into the wider supply chain ecosystem.

This makes for an enormous opportunity for IoT solutions suppliers and for the transportation industry itself. As analyst firm IDC reports, transportation companies spent $78.7 billion in IoT-related technologies and services in 2015. Meanwhile, communications services provider Verizon says that IoT network connections in the transport and distribution sector grew 49 percent between 2014 and 2015, putting this vertical in third place in this category.

The IoT solutions in which transportation companies are investing, such as sensor-based fleet management solutions, are helping to drive efficiencies and cost reductions, and there is further headroom for richer solutions to be deployed that help transport and logistics companies realize additional savings, generate new revenues, and achieve greater efficiencies.

The vast fleets of vehicles; enormous volume of miles travelled; and billions of items transported, routed, and delivered in the sector make transportation and logistics a fertile area for efficiency gains and cost savings.

One example of a company in the sector that is achieving impressive results with its IoT deployments is GreenRoad, a U.S. company with offices in the U.K. and Israel which markets a versatile driver and fleet performance management solution. The company provides a comprehensive fleet performance platform that concentrates on driver behavior improvement to mitigate risk and maximize efficiencies across any fleet of vehicles. The GreenRoad solution provides drivers  with real-time, in-vehicle feedback and comprehensive visibility in driving maneuvers that mostly affect safe driving, fuel efficiency, vehicle wear and tear, and emissions.

Saving Costs and Lives, While Optimizing Fleet Performance

The GreenRoad solution analyzes more than 150 maneuvers in five categories: acceleration, braking, lane changes, cornering, and speeding.

The solution supports and coaches drivers on every trip they take without the need to invest in time-intensive training programs. In-vehicle monitoring is delivered via a mobile-based solution and gives drivers objective, real-time feedback whenever a risky driving event occurs. Risky events are tabulated and translated into a single, simple metric. Drivers can also monitor their performance via an online account through any internet-connected device.

Meanwhile, GreenRoad for Fleet Tracking & Operations helps companies manage and optimize the performance of their fleets. All resource data is integrated at GreenRoad Central, which provides 24/7 access to the operations intelligence, from real-time activity to historical trip and route data.

By enabling real-time visibility of vehicles and drivers, their location and operational status, fleet managers can make faster, better decisions and utilize resources more efficiently. The route replay feature provides a review of what happened on the road to determine where productivity was gained or lost. Moreover, the location history can be used to respond to customer complaints by verifying time and location and providing proof of delivery or service.

To date, the solution has monitored more than 10 billion miles and logged in excess of half a million driving years. Tangible, proven benefits include up to a 50 percent decrease in accident rates, a 25 percent reduction in fuel costs, and a 15 percent savings on maintenance.

Telit IoT modules provide cellular connectivity and GPS location service for GreenRoad. The GE910-QUAD V3 2G module is employed in Europe, the UE910 NAD 3G module in the U.S. The SE868V2, which is an integrated GPS and Glonass solution, provides the location service.

Creating the Opportunity for New Business Models & Revenue

The significant savings that transport and logistics companies can realize by deploying IoT solutions such as those offered by GreenRoad justifies these IoT investment. But the IoT can bring even more value to companies in this sector due to its ability to generate new revenues.

New opportunities in this realm extend from being able to charge more for providing a better service such as a more accurate delivery window to offering richer tracking functionality as well as utilizing IoT data to sell valuable insights to third parties.

Bitgear is one company working to help organizations generate new revenues from their IoT deployments. The company targets smart city applications that would benefit from the improved positioning performance via multi-constellation GNSS receivers integrated with an affordable inertial system and fast wireless data transfer capabilities.

The company’s new real-world application is an intelligent system for vehicles that takes advantage of public transportation fleet routes. Known as GHOST, it enables a new approach to infrastructure, maintenance, street parking, and garbage management in smart cities.

The GHOST system, which includes a vehicle-mounted high-quality camera and multi-constellation GNSS receiver, enables vehicles to automatically take pictures of predefined points of interest along public transport networks, based on the accurate position of the mobile vehicle. Such GALILEO geo-tagged pictures will be important enablers for the creation of several new services for infrastructure monitoring.

Pictures are reviewed by advanced image processing algorithms to identify relevant contextual information and delivered to interested users, which can be public administration, garbage collection, or police departments, for example. This information will typically be used to report street lighting anomalies or road deterioration, to monitor public garbage collection completion levels, and detect double parking or occupied parking reserved for disabled drivers by unauthorized vehicles.

These geo-tagged pictures are key enablers for the creation of new services that need fast, reliable, long-range wireless data transfer to servers to further process acquired images. To preserve the maximum of information on images, the system transfers hundreds of raw uncompressed snapshots to the server side from every deployed device on a daily basis.

The GHOST intelligent transport system utilizes the Telit HE910 WCDMA communication module, which offers a complete, certified, and reliable high-speed long-range data transfer solution that Bitgear has integrated into its system. In addition, this module enables an easy upgrade to 4G and cost optimization paths to other Telit products including the UE910, LE910, and GE910, as well as the CE910. There are seven HSPA+ bands that allow applications to be used without regard to frequency regulations in different countries, thereby making it ideal for products that are marketed worldwide.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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