How Fleets Can Win Business with Trailer Telematics

vehicles on road under blue calm sky

When it comes to gaining market share, the best offense is a good defense. For fleet owners in midsize fleets, this boils down to maximizing the value of everything within their organization however this is easier said than done, as fleet owners typically have a hand in every aspect of their business: procurement, analytics, risk, market strategy, etc. One way to ease this burden and start boosting results is by finding solutions that provide  immediate value to fleets, like trailer telematics. The data generated from trailer telematics can have a profound impact on how fleets operate, driving productivity, cutting costs, reducing risk and so much more. From leveraging insightful data to winning business, here’s how midsize fleet owners can benefit from investing in trailer telematics. 

Generate Analytics 

selective focus photography of mechanics tool lot

For small and midsize fleets, it’s often less about data-driven decisions and more about meeting day-to-day demand. However, this no longer needs to be the case. Trailer telematics can play a pivotal role in generating key analytics that can be viewed from dynamic dashboards and comprehensive reports to help fleet owners discover inefficiencies in maintenance, route planning, driver performance, trailer utilization and more. Idle reports can be leveraged to quickly locate trailers that are sitting unused or delayed in detention and get them back on the road. This improves asset utilization but can also help fleet owners find operational weaknesses—such as trailers that are being frequently underutilized or overutilized—which can lead to more revenue and less maintenance upkeep. 

Inform Procurement 

green and white vintage truck

With trailer backlogs and component shortages wreaking havoc in the industry, purchasing new and used trailers is a challenge right now for fleets of all sizes. Although nothing can be done on a macro level to change the market, improving efficiency through boosting fleet uptime is a surefire way to improve trailer output. With trailer telematics, fleet owners can make use of brake reports, tire pressure monitoring alerts and fault codes that can help them track the health of the assets they’ve invested in. Analyzing these trends could lead to discovering inefficiencies that can be addressed for improved longevity. Plus, in the long term, fleet owners can leverage this data to help them purchase trailers with components that are expected to last longer. 

Reduce Risk 

As is the case for any business owner, managing risk is of the utmost importance. From cargo theft to insurance claims to roadside safety infractions, there’s plenty to worry about. This is especially true for fleet owners, who employ drivers to carry valuable cargo across the country every day. Trailer telematics technology can mitigate some of the risk involved with owning a fleet by providing remote around-the-clock visibility into trailers—empty or loaded—through camera cargo sensors. This generates a visual record which can provide clarity to discussions involving product quality at delivery, improving customer relations. Camera cargo sensors can also be used to check that standard loading procedures are being followed on a trip-by-trip basis, ensuring employee safety. Lastly, while trailer telematics solutions can’t prevent cargo theft, fleet owners can keep an eye on the location of their trailers and can view when assets are being entered or used without authorization by using asset tracking along with camera and door sensors.

Driver Retention 

Highway, Guard Rails, Vehicles, Car, Asphalt, Roadway

According to an ATA report, large truckload carriers—over $30m annual revenue—had a 90% annual driver turnover rate, with smaller fleets  resting at 69%. While this looks promising for smaller fleets, the turnover gap is narrowing as enterprise carriers increase pay and benefits offerings to retain their drivers. Lacking the coffers of larger carriers, growing fleets can fight back against driver turnover by improving driver convenience, wellbeing, comfort and performance through technology like trailer telematics.  

One area where simplification can provide value is by incorporating trailer ID sensors within yard management. Drivers pulling the wrong trailers are  in a lose-lose situation: they aren’t earning money and fleets aren’t earning revenue. With trailer pairing confirmation, drivers can eliminate the costly mistake of hooking to the wrong trailer and leaving the yard through trailer coupling notifications that dispatch can monitor remotely. 

Win Business 

Being smaller has its perks. For growing fleets, using trailer telematics technology to provide a better experience for customers can be the ticket to winning business from bigger competitors. Plus, without any previous large-scale investment in now-obsolete technology, small fleets can quickly pivot and adopt the newest technology to get ahead.  

Just like in any other business environment, smaller companies can often provide more personalized service and attention to their customers versus an enterprise churning out production to meet demand. Real-time location tracking provides tremendous value through asset visibility that can lead to accurate ETAs, which are often expected from customers in this era of Amazon and Uber.  

Taking Market Share with Trailer Telematics 

Owning a midsize fleet can be a stepping stone for those that are interested in scaling operations and expanding business on the back of innovative technology. Using trailer telematics, fleet owners can maximize their productivity and efficiency to create a better service for customers, reduce unnecessary expenses, retain talented drivers and more. 

Want to see how trailer telematics can work for you? Check out our free smart trailer solutions brochure and discover the benefits of incorporating trailer telematics in your growing fleet. 

Posted in 1. Transportation Tagged with: , ,

How Real-Time Remote Diagnostics Can Empower Fleet Maintenance 

A truck mechanic repairing a transport truck.

With procurement order backlogs continuing to wreak havoc on the industry, fleet maintenance has become even more crucial to ensuring trucks stay on the road — not stuck in the shop. For fleet managers, the key to improving fleet uptime through maintenance stems from getting the data you need when you need it — contextual, actionable and in near real time. That’s why we have partnered  with Noregon to enhance our existing smart truck solution with new remote advanced vehicle diagnostics capabilities. Existing customers can benefit from these exciting new features quickly without new hardware add-ons, ensuring business can continue uninterrupted. For those new to ORBCOMM’s smart truck solution, this new Noregon partnership strengthens our offering even further by providing a holistic remote view of fleet health, empowering you to build a smarter maintenance strategy that saves money and maximizes productivity.

Predictive Maintenance Can Help Crews Repair Rather than Replace  

Sometimes, trips to the maintenance shop are unavoidable. However, awareness of the problem and the time it takes to get the truck or trailer to the shop can make a significant difference on the repair bill and how long the asset will be out of action. One way to get ahead of this is with comprehensive reporting that filters out unnecessary data points and provides a remote snapshot of each individual asset with all of the real-time predictive data that you need to make informed decisions. If the shop is backed up, this actionable remote diagnostics data can also provide mileage estimates and time estimates before the issue is expected to escalate further, providing operational flexibility for any fleet maintenance strategy.   

Inform Maintenance Triaging with Vehicle Performance and Health Scoring  

The ORBCOMM remote diagnostics platform features vehicle performance and health parameters based on color severity.

Maintenance crews are blind to real-time individual component and performance health once a vehicle leaves the shop. This is sub-optimal, as it limits the control fleet maintenance teams have over the health of their fleets and can lead to inaccurate management of the vehicles themselves. With our new fleet maintenance solution, vehicle performance and health can be viewed live at any time to ensure standards are being met and to enable maintenance crews to resolve vehicle issues before they escalate further. Using color-coded aggregated scoring can make this even easier to manage, as it provides a snapshot of each individual vehicle so that maintenance crews can quickly get a handle on which vehicles they need to prioritize. Severity levels can also be customized to account for specific standards within any individual fleet maintenance strategy.  Plus, viewing the effect-on-vehicle description of each issue can help maintenance crews visualize the impact of each problem that goes unfixed, allowing for more informed triaging. 

Leveraging Data-Driven Action Plans to Boost Intelligence  

As busy maintenance crews know, long-term planning can be difficult when there’s a backlog of repairs that need to be completed. For many, just getting through the line-up of trucks in the shop can take up all of a maintenance team’s hours and budget. Our enhanced smart truck solution can help to alleviate some of that pressure by providing insightful repair recommendations based on trends in component data. These can be fully customized by input from ASE-certified technicians and can be shared with dispatchers to relay to drivers for issues that can be quickly resolved on the road. In turn, this timely information can be used to alleviate any additional damage to the vehicle unknowingly.   

Incorporating Real-Time Remote Diagnostics in your Fleet Maintenance Strategy 

Live data will always have a place in fleet maintenance. Being able to view the health and performance of each individual component in real time, combined with data-driven insights and predictive fault information, is invaluable to maintenance crews as it helps them manage vehicle repairs faster, improve triaging accuracy through clearly-defined severity levels and foster continuous improvement of their fleet maintenance strategy with data-driven insights.  

Visit here if you’d like to learn more about how ORBCOMM’s enhanced smart truck solution is helping repair crews save time and money while keeping trucks on the road longer. 

Posted in 1. Transportation, Maintenance Tagged with: , , ,

2021 Year in Review: Resilience and Dedication

It’s hard to imagine we’re less than two weeks away from 2022. With COVID-19 still looming alongside component supply issues and port backlogs, there’s been no shortage of difficulties over the past twelve months. However, we have seen tremendous change take place as companies adapt to these new conditions and continue to serve their communities – often backed by innovative technology. 

For us at ORBCOMM, it’s been no different. Despite various trials and tribulations, we have developed new and exciting products, received industry awards, built new partner relationships and helped various customers incorporate end-to-end telematics solutions that cut costs, drive efficiency and most importantly, bring a strong return on investment. 

Without further ado, here are a few of the highlights of 2021 for ORBCOMM. 

Building Solutions for Today’s Problems 

Our new tractor ID sensor solution

Necessity breeds innovation – this is especially true in the transportation industry. Facing challenges such as social distancing, trailer order backlogs and the revised Canadian ELD mandate, fleets have been looking for intelligent solutions that can help them continue operations and improve their bottom line. 

This year, we launched our tractor ID sensor solution to fix a common industry problem: incorrect trailer-tractor pairing. These human errors can be incredibly costly for fleets as cargo can be carried hundreds of miles away from its destination before dispatch or the driver is alerted to the mistake. With this innovative technology, dispatch will know if the wrong trailer leaves the geofence in the yard, eliminating guesswork and simplifying yard check management. This is especially important for reefer management, as product shipment delays can result in spoilage, hefty insurance claims and ruined customer relationships.  

Looking beyond the transportation market, we’re staying true to our satellite heritage with the release of our new dual mode (satellite-cellular) terminal for industrial IoT applications. This solution can seamlessly support virtually any IoT use case with a ruggedized exterior, remote troubleshooting capabilities, expanded battery for longer in-field placement and two levels of connectivity for enhanced reliability. 

Award-Winning Excellence and Powerful Partnerships 

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When you build solutions that solve problems and bring value to your customers, you get recognized for it. We’re proud to share that we have secured certifications and received accolades this year for the work we’ve done with our customers and partners, including: 

You’re only as strong as your partner network. Building upon our solution with third-party specializations provides customers with a stronger overall solution that can address a wide range of different business needs. 

This year, we’ve teamed up with Noregon to integrate their comprehensive vehicle health and safety diagnostics with the ORBCOMM platform, empowering our fleet customers to further improve their maintenance visibility and management through real-time data. 

In the satellite IoT industry, we’ve partnered with Unseen Labs to help them get their comprehensive space-based RF detection technology into the hands of our maritime AIS (Automatic Identification System) partners and customers. 

Expanding our Offering under New Ownership! 

If you haven’t heard, we were acquired by GI Partners this year. We’re excited to continue into 2022 working with GI Partners as a privately held company, fitted with the resources and flexibility necessary to continue developing strong solutions that ease the pains of our customers. 

With this acquisition, we will be able to continue rapidly advancing our long-term strategy by focusing on key markets that can benefit from our suite of solutions such as small and midsize fleets.  

Telematics data provides incredible value at any tractor or trailer count, which is why we’ve built smart truck solutions that can be installed in minutes, carry no upfront hardware costs and feature affordable monthly subscription pricing. 

Orbcomm Brings Satellite M2M Services to China - Via Satellite -

We’re also further strengthening our offering overseas as well. Just this year, our heavy equipment monitoring solution was approved in China, enabling Chinese customers to track and monitor their industrial equipment while providing data-rich insights that can improve asset utilization, operational efficiency and more. 

Sharing our Customers’ Success 

Nothing makes us happier than when we’re helping our customers win more business with our telematics solutions. Here are just a few customers who have deployed our solutions this year: 

What to Look Forward to 

GI Partners to Acquire Orbcomm | Transport Topics

While 2021 has been a challenging year, we’re excited about what we were able to provide to our customers and can’t wait to start the new year off.  

In 2022, we will continue to deliver ROI-positive telematics solutions to new and existing markets, helping to solve complex logistics and other operational inefficiencies, enable real-time visibility and reduce unnecessary processes and expenses. 

As always, be sure to follow us on social media and check our blog regularly to stay up to date on recent developments and new product launches.  

On behalf of the ORBCOMM team, we wish you a happy new year and the best of luck in 2022! 

Posted in 1. Transportation, 3. Maritime / AIS, 4. Heavy Industry, Small and Midsize Fleets Tagged with:

Food Surplus Management demonstrates efficiency of CNG-powered vehicles using ORBCOMM data

Irish company proves the efficiency and low maintenance costs of compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered vehicles on its journey to a more sustainable fleet.

The company

Food Surplus Management (FSM) found the right fit with ORBCOMM to support its move to a more sustainable fleet using compressed natural gas as a proven and reliable alternative to diesel or petrol. As an after-market, mixed-fleet telematics provider, ORBCOMM was ideally positioned to provide a comprehensive and trusted system for comparing fuel savings and freight emissions across CNG- powered vehicles and a wide range of different makes and models of trucks.

Irish-owned FSM specialises in sustainable food waste collection, taking short-date and out-of-date food waste from retail, food, manufacturing and hospitality centres for recycling at its custom-built facilities. With over 15 years of experience, FSM provides a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to landfill. FSM is a company with strong environmental credentials. With sustainability at its heart, the company was one of the first in Ireland to use compressed natural gas to fuel its fleet, as it searched for a cleaner, more affordable and proven choice for its fleet. The potential for using gas for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) is to reduce C02 emissions from 7% to up to 23% over diesel* depending on drive cycles and payload.

The challenge

In 2017, Gas Networks Ireland, which owns and operates the country’s natural gas network, launched the first CNG Vehicle Fund to support businesses adopting the new technology. The initiative aimed to show the viability of CNG as an alternative to diesel. In addition to introducing high capacity fast-fill CNG stations across Ireland, the project included a subsidy scheme for the purchasing of new vehicles.

FSM was one of the first haulers to apply and purchased three Scania trucks powered by CNG as part of its fleet of 32 vehicles that operate nationwide. Niall Lord, Managing Director of Food Surplus Management, explained that one of the main reasons that FSM got on-board with the initiative was that it aligned with its company values. “In our business, we collect food waste. The food goes for anaerobic digestion, which is the production of biogas, biomethane. CNG was an obvious fuel for us,” said Lord.

To monitor the performance of its CNG vehicles against the rest of its fleet, FSM turned to its telematics system for data. FSM had switched from another provider to ORBCOMM telematics in 2018 and uses it to enhance the visibility of their trucks, drivers, and workflow, to improve driver behaviour on the road and save money on fuel and maintenance.

Lord sees ORBCOMM telematics as mission-critical for his fleet. “We switched over more than two years ago. We have the whole fleet there. We’re tracking everything. We use vehicle management, driver management, tachograph, the whole suite of reporting. Our transport manager and transport staff use it quite a lot.”

With the detailed information available through the ORBCOMM system incorporating maintenance, fuel burn information and driver performance scoring, it was the perfect partner for the CNG initiative.

The solution

The fuel savings offered by gas-powered trucks was a big reason for Lord and FSM to get involved and the initial results are promising. Lord says, “From a monitoring point of view, from the ORBCOMM system, fuel is probably what we watch most. It is also useful for maintenance planning and obviously for routing. We can see where the trucks are.”

Using ORBCOMM telematics to monitor the trucks’ fuel usage, Lord says the results speak for themselves. While fuel economy in diesel and CNG trucks were on a par, the savings on the lower costs made CNG a viable alternative.

“Fuel is an overhead. Gas is around 70 cents while diesel is in the 90s. There’s a 20% plus saving in fuel which is substantial. If you have that across the board, it’s a no-brainer”.

– Niall Lord, Managing Director of Food Surplus Management

FSM has been carefully monitoring the vehicles’ performance during the trial period, with a close eye on ORBCOMM dashboards to watch fuel and maintenance. Lord says, “There is definitely a saving in running costs. They run a very clean engine, we’ve had little or no mechanical problems with the vehicles either, which is huge. It’s important that trucks don’t have much downtime and the CNG-powered gas trucks have little or no downtime.” The company has had success with the pilot programme of three trucks. “I would absolutely recommend it. The fuel economy in the trucks is on par with diesel; they are very efficient.”

The future

As one of the first companies in Ireland to operate CNG vehicles, FSM wants to convert the whole fleet as soon as the refuelling rollout allows. For his fleet to convert fully, Lord says they’ll need a larger number of fuelling points. Without that, he says it will be challenging to grow the use of CNG trucks. When there is a full rollout in place, it will be the obvious choice to transition to a fully CNG-powered fleet. Lord says a switch to gas-powered trucks is a win-win situation. He says it is definitely a viable alternative to diesel. “The trucks work great. There’s nothing to prove technology-wise, with the vehicles themselves or the fuel economy they deliver.

Ready to unlock data-driven insights within your fleet? Schedule a demo with our team today.

Posted in 1. Transportation Tagged with: , , , , ,

Master Midsize Fleet Maintenance with Trailer Telematics

red truck on road during daytime

Small and midsize fleets have plenty to be concerned about when it comes to maintenance in 2021. With the opportunity to buy new trailers in short supply well into 2022, small and midsized fleets can expect to have to wait their turn until larger fleets receive their new trailer orders.

On the flip side, existing trailers are at risk of being furloughed due to component shortages, which have thrown a wrench into getting replacement parts. Other external factors are also at play. As a result of the demand for home and business Amazon-style delivery, trailers are experiencing increased wear and tear due to frequent trips during last-mile delivery and may require more frequent servicing. When combined with COVID-19 protocols limiting technician-driver interactions and the ever-present goal to improve fleet uptime and CSA scores, all of this makes for a challenging time for midsize fleet maintenance. 

The result is twofold: the health of the existing trailer pool has become a priority and assets will have to be kept for longer than anticipated before being traded out. When you consider that the trailer pool of a smaller-size fleet is typically older than that of larger fleets, the challenge to keep trailers on the road for longer is compounded.   

How Trailer Telematics Can Help 

Finding ways to keep trailers healthier for longer can alleviate some of the pressure that maintenance managers and their crews are facing. Trailer telematics is a natural ally for fleets of all sizes, but especially growing fleets. Since they sometimes lack the capital or lease financing available to larger businesses, each trailer needs to be used more efficiently and endure longer than assets owned by enterprise-size carriers. This is where trailer telematics data can shine. For instance, maintenance managers can employ shorter servicing intervals based on real-time odometer readings , or they can use alerts and notifications to schedule servicing dates that won’t be missed. If drivers have in-cab devices, electronic driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) can close the loop between drivers and the maintenance team–a gap that has grown wider with COVID–to ensure that the shop is receiving diagnostics information earlier and can therefore proactively order parts. 

Here are three ways that maintenance crews for small and midsize fleets can leverage trailer telematics: to reduce roadside service calls, limit CSA violations and increase fleet uptime. 

Limit Roadside Service Calls 

Midsize fleet technician working on truck.

For every broken trailer, there’s typically a previous repair that could have been done to keep the asset on the road. Resolving a trailer component malfunction in the shop is much better than fixing one on the shoulder of a highway.  Trailer telematics data can simplify diagnostics, one of the cost-intensive and time-consuming parts of servicing used trailers. Rather than going through a component checklist to determine where the issue is, technicians can rely on automated fault code detection to skip troubleshooting and start repairing, clearing the shop quicker and getting assets back on the road faster. This doesn’t eliminate the need for pre- and post-trip inspections; if drivers have access to a DVIR, they can leverage a closed loop with shop technicians, helping maintenance leaders keep a digital record of each trailer to prevent missed repairs resulting in roadside calls.  

While there are numerous reasons for truck breakdowns, tires are a common culprit. Real-time visibility into the wear and tear of tires, brakes and other components enables real-time condition monitoring and alerts that can help crews proactively repair trailers before they break down, cutting back on trailer downtime and optimizing fleet uptime.  

Reduce CSA Violations 

Did you know that over 70% of this year’s CSA violations were from maintenance or service problems? Excessive fines can not only put repair crews in the doghouse with fleet managers, but it also hurts a fleet’s safety reputation, as it’s a clear indication that potentially unsafe assets are being put into rotation.  

Trailer telematics can play a role in reducing these violations by providing real-time visibility into lighting, brakes, tires and other components that are known to be usual suspects during roadside stops. Often, many of the issues reported would have been easily preventable with proactive trailer maintenance programs in place. 

Lights remain the top culprit for vehicle-related offenses, with 28% of total violations. Often this is a result of broken or missing lights that were missed by service technicians but can be quickly recognized with light-out detection. Brakes are also a frequent offender, with over one million violations just last year, including over-worn brake pads and faulty brake hoses and tubing. By using sensors, fleets can receive real-time alerts when brakes reach a certain level of wear, enabling technicians to schedule trailers for service before an emergency or roadside stop occurs.  

The third most common issue stems from tire violations, which account for 11% of the overall share of service-related incidents. Tire pressure monitoring systems can enable technicians to monitor pressure and temperature remotely, bringing more intelligence into their maintenance strategy. After all, being alerted to a low-pressure tire makes it much easier to deal with and more cost-effective than replacing a blown tire. 

Improving Fleet Uptime 

Boosting fleet uptime using trailer telematics data.

Maintenance managers will be the first to tell you; if a truck isn’t on the road, it isn’t earning revenue.  Fleet downtime is an important part of the equation for fleets of all sizes, and something that maintenance crews spend lots of time and effort in optimizing. However, for small to midsize fleets lacking an abundance of assets ready for deployment at the drop of a dime, downtime can be devastating, resulting in missed deliveries, inactive drivers and surprise expenses.  

Trailer telematics data can bring further intelligence into midsize fleet maintenance programs without further investment in labour and resources. Not only do location reports allow for easier routing and asset tracking, but they can also inform dispatch and the maintenance team of where a broken trailer is so another can be sent to continue the delivery. Plus, understanding the location of a trailer in need of service can help dispatch direct the driver to the nearest maintenance shop. The time it takes for a trailer in need of repair to reach technicians can be the difference between a quick fix and irreparable damage to the asset resulting in immediate replacement. 

Replacing static date-based maintenance scheduling with data-based scheduling —that is, mileage information collected from trailer telematics—can help provide a fuller picture of when a trailer may need to be in the shop for repairs. A trailer that has carried more weight – or completed more miles overall than another trailer – will likely need brake repairs sooner. On the other hand, a trailer that is being underutilized may be given more shop attention by technicians than it needs, wasting resources. By relying on the data, maintenance leaders can ensure their assets last the full equipment cycle in good order. 

Fleets with mixed trailer makes and models are more common than ever, and no two trailers are the same when it comes to maintenance requirements and recommended service intervals. By using intelligent scheduling driven by telematics data, midsize fleet maintenance leaders can ensure that each specific trailer model is getting the attention it needs.  

With the data from trailer telematics, maintenance managers can flip the script on how they keep assets fully operational. Rather than building a schedule that tries to fit every specific trailer component, maintenance teams can use telematics data to predict faults for an optimized maintenance cycle. By recording interventions as they take place, technician crews can use these incident reports to inform future repair decisions, leading to a more intelligent maintenance program.  

Making Maintenance Easier 

Free smart trailer solutions brochure

Managing midsize fleet maintenance is tough work–especially in today’s market. Luckily, trailer telematics technology is adding intelligence and insights to maintenance programs so that maintenance leaders can monitor trailers whether they’re in the shop or on the road.  

Whether it’s reducing CSA violations, cutting down on roadside repairs or informing maintenance scheduling powered by data, trailer telematics can help small- and mid-size fleets with enterprise-level service by providing real-time remote visibility into every facet of their trailer health. 

If you would like to learn more about how trailer telematics can help your small-to-mid-size fleet, be sure to check out our smart trailer solutions brochure to learn how tomorrow’s technology can help you today.  

Posted in 1. Transportation, 6. IoT Trends, Small and Midsize Fleets Tagged with: , , , , ,

Satellite IoT Connectivity Helping Combat Floods in Japan

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) is turning the tide on flood preparation by monitoring linear rainbands—tell-tale signs of impending heavy downpours—on observation vessels fitted with ORBCOMM satellite IoT connectivity.  

In 2018 alone, Japan was devastated by widespread flooding that displaced over 8 million people, with 225 confirmed dead and one trillion Japanese yen in total flood-related damages reported. Just last year, tens of thousands of army troops, police officers and rescue personnel were mobilized as more than 50 people lost their lives in the Kyushu region. 

Getting the full picture 

Due to difficulties collecting vapor data from the country’s windward side via on-land radar equipment, the JMA has witnessed drastic rainfall forecast inaccuracies. In one case, a predicted 128mm of rain turned out to be a devastating 330mm—nearly three times the expected amount—which led to the fierce Kumamoto floods that claimed 65 lives in 2020. 

Every minute matters 

When it comes to floods and mudflows, timing is everything. Earlier warnings of torrential rainfall allow prefectures to prepare for downpours with sandbags and floodways which can mitigate the infrastructure damage caused by the summer flooding.  

Mobilizing citizens with evacuation alerts earlier can save lives and reduce the stress and risk imposed on families, first responders and emergency personnel. In flood scenarios, experts encourage residents to move to higher ground when leaving for an evacuation center is too risky. 

Powered by satellite connectivity 

satellite terminal
ST 6100 Satellite Terminal

The JMA quickly determined that off-land readings would improve the accuracy and speed of their flood predictions; however, sending this information to the mainland can be difficult from a vessel out at sea. 

To solve this, the JMA and the Meteorological Research Institute fitted research vessels with ORBCOMM satellite connectivity so that they can collect off-land vapor readings and send them back to the mainland in real time. The result: accurate and timely forecasts. 

ORBCOMM’s ST 6100 satellite terminal features two-way IsatData Pro satellite connectivity ideal for maritime applications with little to no cellular reception. Plus, its environmentally sealed exterior and low elevation angle performance make it the perfect partner for both terrestrial and maritime applications. 

With ORBCOMM’s robust and reliable satellite IoT connectivity, we expect that the JMA will be able to monitor and send linear rainband data and other information in real time for near-instant reporting and that these new capabilities will make a lasting impact on flood preparation for the region, helping to protect Japan’s infrastructure and its citizens. 

Moving forward, the JMA aims to share warnings for areas with worrying levels of linear rainbands along with other meteorological symptoms of rainfall by 2022 and plans to develop a satellite that can gather information across a wider geographical range. 

By 2030, the JMA is looking at integrating these flood monitoring efforts with artificial intelligence to further improve meteorological accuracy while expediting prediction speed by as much as half a day. 

Posted in 6. IoT Trends

3 Reasons Every Fleet Manager Needs to Set Trailer KPIs

Key performance indicators–KPIs–aren’t new to the trucking industry. For years, fleet managers have been monitoring metrics to squeeze every last drop of productivity and efficiency out of their operations. However, these efforts have mostly focused on truck data–not the valuable information held within the trailers in tow. Trailer telematics has come a long way over the past few years, providing fleet owners with far more than basic location data. In this article, we’ll discuss what fleet managers can expect to accomplish by setting trailer KPIs driven by fleet telematics. 

Increase Asset Utilization 

With trailer order delays, driver shortages and component shortages, it’s proving difficult for fleet owner to expand their business.  One way to side-step this supply-side slowdown is by improving the efficiency of assets currently in deployment. Using trailer telematics to improve asset utilization begins with trailer tracking. According to the American Trucking Association, only 24% of trailers in the US had trailer tracking capabilities, leaving most fleet owners in the dark. 

Not only does this lead to idle trailers eating away at profit margins, but it can also result in underfilled trailers that limit productivity and waste drivers’ hours. Plus, this can confuse procurement, as what appears to be a need for new trailers could, in fact, be poor asset utilization in disguise. 

Improve Route Efficiency 

The average American long-haul trucker travels over 100,000 miles in a year, showcasing the distance that fleets cover as they transport cargo. Tracking trailer KPIs such as percentage of loaded miles versus empty (deadhead) miles can go a long way in boosting profit margins, considering the amount of time truckers are on the road., considering the amount of time truckers are on the road. 

To achieve this, fleet managers can use trailer telematics to provide operational intelligence to route planning and real-time visibility to dispatch. Knowing the location of each asset along with its current load capacity can help plan future trips and ensure the right driver–one with available hours and trailer space–is heading to the right job. Strategic route planning leveraging trailer telematics limits deadhead miles while improving detention billing accuracy for excessive detention time, which can help mitigate losses. 

Reduce Cargo Theft and Claims 

Tracking trailer KPIs can help fleet managers mitigate cargo theft, which just last year reached a 5-year record high in volume and value for the American trucking industry. The ability to track trailer locations in real time using telematics can provide fleet owners with assurance that their assets are where they should be. Plus, investing in door sensors can ensure each trailer is being accessed only when and where it is authorized to be. 

Another area where trailer KPIs can help protect cargo is by reducing cargo claims, which hurt customer relations while costing fleets for shipments that are time sensitive or vulnerable to spoilage. Trailer telematics can play a role in protecting cargo by triggering time stamps where and when cargo is damaged to inform future route planning. In addition, the increased utilization of cargo camera sensors has ushered in a new level of load visibility for fleet managers. Not only can they inform dispatch of available volume within any given trailer (perfect for improving asset utilization) but they can also be used to manually take photos at any given time or when certain events–the trailer door opening or the beginning or ending of a driver’s trip–are triggered. 

Leveraging Telematics for Trailer KPIs 

Real-time visibility, improved operational efficiency, improved customer relations–these are just a few benefits that fleet managers can expect from setting trailer KPIs built off of data from the latest trailer telematics devices

We recently created The Fleet Manager’s Guide to Trailer KPIs that dives deep into the value of data-driven trailer KPIs and which metrics fleet managers should prioritize. To learn more about how ORBCOMM smart technology can help you track and meet your trailer KPIs, request a demo or contact us at

Posted in 6. IoT Trends Tagged with: , , ,

The Role of IoT in Fleet Management

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With the global challenges of the past year, the digitization of the transportation industry—and fleet management as a whole—has quickly become a necessity, not a nicety. An online shopping surge has spiked one of the most robust freight markets in decades while simultaneously putting unprecedented pressure on fleet managers to perform local last-mile deliveries with already-strained resources. What’s more, social distancing has changed the way truckers interact with dispatchers, mechanics and fellow drivers, forcing companies to find an alternative to paper documentation. This has quickly created a need for new digital processes to facilitate trailer pickup and drop-off and communication between dispatch and drivers concerning jobs and workflow–all while maintaining physical distance. 

As a result, increased visibility into the supply chain is becoming a prerequisite for carriers trying to win business from shippers. Dispatchers need to know if trailers are full or empty and whether they’re parked or mobile. Plus, they want to have a finger on each driver’s hours to ensure last-minute deliveries can be completed on time. In the less-than-truckload sector, it’s all about speeding up the data. The biggest challenge is digital freight matching–having visibility on each load so shippers can match loads with the best carrier.

Empowering Fleets with IoT Technology 

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has been pivotal in fleet management and is projected to be a mainstay in transportation for years to come. With an impressive resume across countless other industries, it allows trucking companies to track their vehicles in real time so they can have eyes on their loads around the clock, automate logistics that have been muddied by social distancing and generate insightful data that can improve efficiency during a time of driver and component shortages. Real-time IoT data enables fleet managers to accelerate decision-making by having the information they need readily available when they need it. 

Total Load Visibility 

No matter what your role is in the supply chain–manufacturer, shipper, receiver, retailer or carrier–end-to-end transparency and oversight is a necessity. For the trucking industry, investing in technology that provides visibility is not new. Carriers have been deploying vehicle tracking through asset-tracking hardware devices–coupled with GPS, temperature, humidity and door sensors–to improve their efficiency and gain new visibility into their business. 

However, new IoT-based applications can provide even better real-time operational efficiency for fleet managers. After all, fleet managers can leverage far more than just track-and-trace capabilities. There’s been a rise in “smart trucks” that carry various sensors and devices bumper-to-bumper, collecting data and generating insights that are providing tangible value to fleet managers. 

One example: by using cargo camera sensors to determine the available space within a trailer remotely, dispatchers can link a truck to an optimal load based on trailer space available. Plus, integrating additional data from other systems–the driver’s available working and driving hours, fuel, local weather and traffic data–can lead to an even more informed decision which improves both driver and asset utilization ratios. By using sensors with brake data, fleet managers can get trailer weight data, drill down into loads or unloads, and receive real-time alerts to overweight events. Overweight trailers can be prevented from leaving the yard and fines for overloaded trailers can be minimized. 

Embracing Digitization 

The transportation industry is going through a tech-driven revolution as fleet managers try to replace inefficient and error-prone paper-based processes with new automated and contactless interaction via IoT technology. Electronic driver vehicle inspection reports (eDVIRs) have replaced their paper counterparts; a win-win scenario that keeps file cabinets lighter and truck drivers happier. eSignatures and in-cab scanning have played a pivotal role in removing cross-contamination from paper and pens while also removing the need for truckers to be near other workers to sign important documentation. This also applies to interactions between truckers and dispatchers as well, as communication can be handled between both parties without stepping into the office together. With social distancing regulations easing in the US, eSignatures and in-cab scanning is still providing drivers with comfort and convenience that can help improve recruiting and retention, and maximize operational uptime moving forward.

With real-time asset tracking, dispatchers can know precisely when drivers will arrive (and where they are located via geofencing), reducing unnecessary check-ins to determine arrival. Drivers can avoid further obstacles on the road by bypassing weigh station stops completely, avoiding unnecessary downtime that could result in late deliveries and chargebacks. This is a highlight for many drivers as they don’t get paid unless their truck is on the move and could be a determining factor when it comes down to recruiting and retention. 

Data-Driven Fleets

IoT has created a massive output of available data for fleet managers to integrate into their operations. However, for large deployments of assets, it can be difficult to control the mass amounts of data, let alone analyze it. Fleet managers need to choose the data that they want to focus on and tie it to a goal that they want to achieve within their operations, whether it’s increased uptime, higher utilization, greater productivity, enhanced safety or lower expenses. 

Today, resource efficiency is top of mind for many fleet managers. After all, improving asset utilization by 10% across a fleet of 1,000 vehicles can provide the same value as adding 100 new trucks in an environment where expanding fleet resources is difficult due to component shortages. One way that IoT sensors can improve pickup efficiency is by automating tractor trailer coupling verification, minimizing human error and optimizing the pickup process for drivers. With the ability to remotely recognize which tractor or truck is attached to which trailer, dispatchers can be notified immediately–not 100 miles later–if drivers have connected to the wrong one, saving time, money, fuel, customer relations and driver’s patience. 

Improvements are also being made on the maintenance side. Fleet managers can use fault codes, odometer readings and utilization data to determine which vehicles should be repaired and when, streamlining service scheduling and reducing unnecessary appointments that are based on time intervals and not backed by data. Remote diagnostics can even pinpoint vehicle issues while the truck is on the road or before it’s left by providing actionable alerts to potential problems before a breakdown occurs, limiting downtime and costs. With fault severity data, technicians can better understand which vehicles need to be taken off the road for repair and which are safe enough to safely complete their trip. 

Invest in your Fleet 

The benefits that IoT can provide fleet maintenance cannot be overstated: no towing fees, no spontaneous need for a technician, no missed deliveries and no driver stranded on the side of the road when they could be driving. Want to learn more about how IoT can help fleet managers cut costs and improve efficiency? Read our free brochure on how smart trucks are helping fleet managers comply with regulations, increase driver efficiency, cut costs and more. 

Posted in 1. Transportation, 6. IoT Trends Tagged with: , , ,

Smart Trucks: How Tractor Trailer Pairing Improves Driver Retention

Driver recruiting and retention is one of the American Transportation Research Institute’s Top Research Priorities this year–and for good reason. The average cost of losing one trucker can range anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000. Putting this into perspective, the average three-month turnover rate–74% in large fleets–applied to 100 drivers over three months could cost $370,000. 

Tractor Trailer Pairing

While better pay and more time at home are top of mind for many drivers, getting to the root of driver retention can also involve empowering truckers with tools and resources that make their jobs more enjoyable. Technology too can play its role; fleets can invest in features and functionalities that allow drivers to complete their daily tasks more easily. After all, nobody wants to feel unsafe behind the wheel of a tractor trailer or feel like they are wasting time unnecessarily. 

One area where fleet managers can provide relief to their drivers and improve retention is in yard management, where automated tractor trailer pairing can help keep truckers on the road–with the correct trailer in tow. 

Simplifying Yard Management 

Tractor trailer pairing–and yard management as a whole–is a crucial part of fleet operations that can have a direct impact on overall fleet performance, driver satisfaction, workflow efficiency, labor costs and delivery times. However, it is often still a manual process.  

Drivers walk around performing trailer pick-up checks and verifying they are picking up the right trailer using paper–a recipe for human error. This can be a drag for drivers who just want to get back on the road.

Truckers can (and do) pick up the wrong trailer. Yards can consist of tens of thousands of trailers that need to be manually verified by drivers before they couple them to their tractors. 

When a driver connects their tractor to the wrong trailer and leaves the yard, they will need to return once dispatch realizes the error and informs them. Once they re-enter the yard, they’ll need to park their truck and decouple it before finding the correct trailer.  

Often, truckers don’t realize the error until they arrive at their destination–which could be hundreds of miles away–carrying another driver’s trailer. This wastes time, fuel, workable hours, truckers’ patience and budget to get the driver back to the yard.

Making Life Easier for Drivers 

ORBCOMM is one of the first to address this clear market need with a tractor ID sensor that enables tractor-trailer pairing, allowing fleet managers to identify and verify which tractor is connected to which trailer without the need for manual confirmation from drivers. 

When both tractor and trailer are in line of sight and within proximity, the tractor ID sensor installed on the rear exterior wall of the truck will pair with the telematics device on the trailer via Bluetooth. Once this happens, the telematics device confirms the connection and transfers the tractor’s ID to the back office. With advanced Bluetooth filtering, the device can filter out nearby trailers to ensure the proper connection is being made–perfect for yards packed with trailers near one another. 

To reduce power and data usage, the tractor ID sensor remains latent when it is unpaired and once connected, pairing attempts occur at less frequent intervals, allowing fleet managers to get as many as 7 years out of a single lithium battery. In the back office, dispatchers can view when trailers are coupled and decoupled along with the specific IDs for each asset, simplifying the management of a once-complex trailer yard.  

Driver Happiness with Tractor Trailer Pairing

As fleet managers face heightened demand from retail, driver retention is set to remain one of the top industry challenges. It is no secret that the life of a trucker can be grueling; however, by investing in driver comfort with technology and other methods, fleet managers can help keep their staff happy and ultimately, their fleet on the road. 

With tractor trailer ID, dispatchers will know that the right trailers are attached to the right vehicles, making life more comfortable for them and their drivers, by preventing the driver from having to return to the yard to get the right trailer.  

To learn more about our IS 400 tractor ID sensor, visit the datasheet or contact us at

Posted in 1. Transportation Tagged with: , , , , ,

Smart Reefer Containers – Why Interoperability Matters

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The ongoing disruptions snarling global maritime container trade and supply chains have driven home the acute need for better visibility into the location and status of container cargo and equipment moving through the system. Nowhere is this more important than in the refrigerated container trades carrying vital supplies of perishable food, pharmaceuticals and medicines, including vaccines, across the world.  

The recent logjam at the Chinese Port of Yantian hit reefer shipments hard, with major ocean carriers advising that a percentage of refrigerated cargoes will be diverted–in some cases “without prior notice”–to other ports in the Pearl River Delta. Not only does this raise concerns about cargo integrity if other ports lack plugs to power unexpected reefer shipments; it also dislocates finely tuned cold chain logistics and reefer repositioning networks on a potentially global basis, with ripple effects for some long time to come.  

Leading global reefer carrier Maersk Line has warned that this is “a much bigger disruption” than the Suez Canal blockage. In its latest advisory on July 2, Maersk cautions that while the congestion in Yantian is now clearing up, one impacted port could become a downward spiral for neighbouring ports, creating new bottlenecks. Coming so soon after the Suez Canal blockage, and on top of so many months of disruption, events in southern China have deepened concerns about how to monitor, manage and mitigate perishable supply chain shocks, congestion and capacity shortages. Smart containers cannot resolve the macro issues, but they can and do play a vital part of the digital ecosystem in the face of volatility, uncertainty and complexity. ‘Simply’ being able to check the live location and status of containers and their cargo – and make remote adjustments to temperature and other critical conditions – is a big step forward. 

Smart container webinar

Well before the pandemic, the reefer segment of the container market was leading the way in adoption of IoT telematics for remote real-time visibility, monitoring and control. To date, ORBCOMM has deployed IoT telematics on over 600,000 container assets and the great majority are reefer containers. Still, with less than 40% of the global reefer container fleet estimated to have telematics installed today (c. 600,000 units out of the current fleet of around 2.4 million), adoption of IoT in the reefer container space has lagged when compared with the reefer trailer market, where ORBCOMM currently has 700,000 cold chain subscribers. That could now change quite quickly. Pandemic times have seen an acceleration in IoT telematics for reefer containers amidst a surge of newbuilding activity to keep up with global cold chain demand amid equipment shortages. That includes more factory installations on newbuilds. 

The efforts of the Digital Container Shipping Association and the Container Owners Association in developing standards for reefer container IoT communication technology and data have been a big boost for adoption. This June, the COA’s Reefer Telematics Working group, a collaboration of reefer equipment manufacturers and telematics Providers, published a new open standard Reefer Data Classification Scheme, supported by an open source Unified Data Model (UDM), to enable the exchange of information on refrigerated containers in a uniform way, independent of the model and manufacturer. 

“By using the standard data model provided in this document, shipping lines and other reefer container operators who have mixed fleets of different reefer machinery will benefit from the convenience of accessing relevant data, without the complexity of accessing [these data] with different formats and means,” says COA. “This is relevant as it is estimated around 70% of all data integration activities today are spent validating, structuring, organizing and cleaning data, a cumbersome burden that the UDM model eliminates.  

Open standards published by the DCSA include IoT Gateway Connectivity InterfacesIoT Data Standard for Remote Reefer Container Monitoring On Board a Vessel and Track & Trace. “Using digital standards, integrated IoT technology can stream high-quality, real-time data from connected devices, providing end-to-end visibility into both the whereabouts of containers and the status of their contents,” said DCSA CEO Thomas Bagge in a recent editorial.   

The standards published by bodies like the COA and DCSA are helping foster interoperability and stakeholder collaboration as the industry wants to be able to not only share data easily, but also to buy hardware from multiple telematics suppliers and not to have to use multiple software platforms.  In our era of shipping alliances and vessel sharing agreements (VSAs) where a single vessel carries containers for many different carriers, shipping lines are also concerned about the ability to monitor their smart reefers using partners’ onboard remote monitoring systems and vice versa.  This is an equal concern for cold chain shippers and distributors who need robust visibility into temperature and other key cargo care and compliance KPIs along the cold chain, including at sea. 

ORBCOMM believes that open, interoperable and non-proprietary must be the direction of travel for all IoT vendors to the global container industry, with software platforms and mobile applications that fully support interoperability with third party telematics devices and data from other sources. ORBCOMM has already successfully integrated 3rd party telematics devices on our ReeferConnect and VesselConnect platforms and will continue this work. 

Data interoperability matters.   

It matters so that data generated by telematics devices can be integrated with other enterprise software systems for added insights and efficiencies. A typical case in point is with a booking system. By integrating details about a shipment – such as origin, destination, set temperature and commodity – with an IoT platform, business rules and AI can be applied to the data to create alerts for incorrect set temperatures or temperature excursions. Plus, full-trip data histories can also be shared automatically via APIs.  

It matters so that smart container data can be shared with the growing number of visibility platforms operating across the cold chain, incorporating data from multiple systems such as TMS, WMS and more. For true end-to-end supply chain visibility, all these systems must be able to ‘talk’ to each other to ensure efficient management of hand-offs along the chain and allow container data to inform other segments of the chain – for instance, last mile delivery planning for e-commerce chains. 

And it matters for future proofing as new IoT technologies and communication channels continue to enter the mix. A case in point is our upcoming CT 3500 smart reefer device that now not only interfaces with the native protocols of the reefer container machine’s microcontroller, but also supports a suite of wireless sensors to augment the data already collected by the reefer controller.  

These wireless sensors use LoRa technology to communicate with the CT 3500 IoT device and overcome the historical challenge of using other wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, which are not robust enough to penetrate the insulation of the refrigerated container.  LoRa wireless door sensors, wireless cargo sensors, and wireless temperature sensors provide valuable data that can be analyzed and interpreted for things such as trip start and end, reefer loading and unloading, security breaches, temperature compliance and refrigeration performance, to name a few.  

“What’s in the reefer box” is going to become ever more important to deliver segmented supply chain services in an increasingly integrated logistics world. IoT will play a big role in enabling this as part of the evolving cold chain data infrastructure and digital ecosystems. Open, interoperable and non-proprietary are the keys to the future of reefer container IoT in the global cold supply chain. 

Want to learn more about interoperability and container IoT? Watch my latest Smart Reefer video presentation or email us any time at

Posted in 2. Container Shipping, 6. IoT Trends Tagged with: , , ,

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