Dell’s desktop computers fueled its business back when it was an early pioneer in e-commerce. Its PCs for consumers and businesses later gave way to smartphones, mobile devices and sensors connected to Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
Recently, Dell has turned its attention to transportation. It has plans to defragment the IoT landscape using a new device that integrates with a multitude of hardware, software and cloud services to power fleet management applications.
At present, motor carriers may find themselves cobbling their data together from multiple IoT systems in their vehicles. These systems and sensors may not “talk” to each other and require separate wireless subscriptions to harness the data.
This separation of technology can limit the opportunities to harness data using advanced services such as artificial intelligence (AI) and to deploy new applications across an enterprise.
Recently, Dell launched a product line of edge computing devices that connect with various hardware and sensors on a vehicle to “start the analytics process powering digital transformation,” says Brent Hodges, who leads IoT planning and product strategy for Dell Technologies.
The Dell Edge Gateway 3002, shown here, is targeted for transportation use cases with its native CANbus connectivity plus Bluetooth, zigbee, Wi-Fi and mobile broadband wireless connectivity.
The gateway device is Intel Atom powered and runs Window IOT 10 or Linux for running local applications and analytics processes.
“The trend is to put more compute power at the edge (in the cab) so that one device can run analytics on several applications before sending data to the cloud,” Hodges says.
With the local and wide-area network connectivity options of the Dell Edge Gateway 3002, data can be sent to larger servers in the cloud for additional analysis.
Open IoT platform
Dell recently collaborated with Blue Dot, an enterprise mobile software application provider, Microsoft and HMS Industrial Solutions to provide an “open” IoT platform to the trucking industry.
The platform consists of Blue Dot’s MilesAhead fleet management software, Dell’s Edge Gateway hardware, HMS’s CANbus adapter, and Microsoft’s Azure Cloud Platform.
The MilesAhead platform has a mobile app that gives drivers the “information that they need exactly when they need it, presented in a way that is easy to use,” Hodges says.
The data sent to fleet managers through the MilesAhead portal is “more timely and accurate as it is automatically synchronized and is often the product of dedicated sensors or digital interfaces,” he adds.
Blue Dot’s MilesAhead software can integrate with third-party fleet management systems to submit or retrieve data in real-time based upon specific events or triggers, or on a specified schedule. Each integration can interact with the Dell Edge Gateway and the MilesAhead mobile driver app and fleet management platform.
Fleets that use the Dell gateway are not limited to using Blue Dot’s software. The mobile software, hardware and cloud platform are all decoupled, as it were, to give fleets the flexibility to add new technology and features over time from a multitude of suppliers. They can also choose to purchase or develop their own mobile software to eliminate on-going subscription costs.
Cameras are among the many possibilities of IoT devices that can be connected to the gateway. Dell does not offer its own camera technology for vehicles but has partners using Dell computer platforms to power cameras and video analytics, he says.
“These third parties can communicate with the Dell Edge gateway through either wired or wireless communication and then the gateway will communicate to the cloud,” Hodges explained. “A Dell Edge Gateway inside the vehicle can be connected to a number of different vehicle systems and allow those systems to utilize the same mobile broadband connection that resides on the gateway.”