TransCore, which offers a satellite-based trailer-tracking system, made a strategic decision in September 2009 to move all of its satellite services to Inmarsat, which now is using fourth-generation satellites and will be a long-term source of satellite capacity, says Dave Sward, TransCore vice president.
For operations such as private fleets that park their trailers only at company facilities, cellular or satellite communications may not be necessary. Some providers of onboard computing and communications systems have products to capture information from the trailer and send it through an in-cab gateway.
PeopleNet offers a Wireless Vehicle Area Network (WiVAN), a gateway that attaches to the tractor to submit information from various sensors on the vehicle to the PeopleNet onboard computer. A separate Trailer ID device attached to the trailer enables the WiVAN gateway to communicate with the trailer and trailer components and capture information for fleet managers to review, such as which trailers are hooked to which tractors, locations, times of last hook or drop, alerts and history reports.
Fleets now face increasing pressure to follow strict temperature standards to ensure that food is not spoiled during transport. On the cost-saving side, they also must optimize reefer fuel usage and overall reefer fleet utilization.
All trailer-tracking providers offer reefer management systems. Last year, onboard computing provider Xata Corp. also released a reefer management and temperature monitoring system that integrates with its Xatanet fleet management tools. The system provides fleets with tools to track temperature data throughout a delivery. A specialized trailer-mounted computer collects and communicates reefer data back to the Xatanet Web host.
For Sunco Carriers, a 650-truck refrigerated fleet that consists entirely of owner-operators, installing TransCore tracking devices on trailers proved to be more effective and efficient than using in-cab communications. With the system, the Lakeland, Fla.-based company is able to locate its trailers, generate projected arrival times and keep trailer pools in check.
The company has added a sensor in the evaporator of 250 of its reefer trailers to monitor box temperatures via a website and through its dispatch and operations software. The temperature records captured by TransCore serve as a backup to the data loggers in the reefer trailers and can be used to prove that the carrier maintained the proper temperature during transit, says Rick Cobb, regional vice president.
By knowing the location and status of trailers, fleet managers can keep their assets moving and chase new opportunities as the economy recovers without adding additional equipment. n
Modest growth expected for trailer monitoring technology in 2010
From 2005 to 2007, the trailer-monitoring market grew between 30 percent and 40 percent each year, and in 2008, the market grew 20 percent. But net growth was minimal in 2009, says Clem Driscoll, president of consulting and research firm C.J. Driscoll & Associates, who projects trailer-monitoring system market growth of less than 10 percent for 2010. The continuing slow economy and trucking sector will continue to constrain growth, he says.
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