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How IoT is enabling a safer and more efficient trucking industry

Highlights
  •  IoT over cellular connects trucks, drivers and data to enhance safety and efficiency.
  • Telstra’s Antonio Piscitelli explains how a connected truck can send requests to the traffic management centre using the intelligence network.
  • FreightExchange is using data insights from IoT technology to match empty trucks with goods for distribution.

Technology continues to drive the transport industry into a safer, more efficient and more sustainable era.

More than 650,000 trucks carry freight across Australian roads every day. Road conditions, traffic and weather are just some of the data sources being used to improve safety and efficiency in the transport industry.

A line up of trucks

The next semi-trailer you pass on the highway will more than likely have connectivity. With the rapid growth in the Internet of Things (IoT), basic benefits such as fleet management and tracking are quickly being augmented, as infrastructure and systems are joined to a growing ecosystem of connected transport.

 

 

“We're starting to take in other data sources from anywhere and everywhere,” says Telstra connected vehicle expert Antonio Piscitelli, National Business Development Specialist for M2M (Machine to Machine). “The Internet of Things is connecting various data sources to provide meaningful insight.”

Routing optimisation is assisted by congestion data, weather patterns, and warnings about road conditions that may change or become dangerous in certain weather. 

Wellbeing behind the wheel

With wearable technology, the driver is also connected - perhaps with specially designed vests or even consumer technology such as a fitness tracker. 

“The Internet of Things could take into account Fitbit data for a driver to say: "Are you fit for work? Have you had the appropriate rest breaks? Have you had a good night's sleep?" Piscitelli explains. 

A proof-of-concept project undertaken between Telstra and logistics giant Toll, monitors vitals from the driver and aggregates the data to a medical grade IoT platform.

“If a driver's got a young kid who's had gastro all night and they've only had two hours' sleep, they can't declare themselves fit for work.”

“I’m excited by the whole safety aspect of moving freight from one part of our big brown land to another, connecting all the different aspects of that supply chain. Not just the vehicle, but also the driver, and everything else in-between.” 

Antonio Piscitelli, Telstra National Business Development Specialist for M2M (Machine to Machine).

Technology for increased efficiency

“The freight industry is really exciting from a technology perspective,” says Cate Hull, CEO of FreightExchange. “Trucks now have black boxes, there are cameras on the roads, there are sensors in the roads, and you’ve got all sorts of amazing technology which traditional companies can now use to really drive efficiency.”

With as many as one in four trucks on the road carrying no load, Hull saw an opportunity for technology to underpin much-needed transformation and “drive sustainability and better efficiencies in the industry”.

FreightExchange is now a national success story, using data insights from IoT technology to match empty trucks with goods for distribution – saving time and money and increasing productivity. 

Driving the benefits 

IoT is enabling smarter motorways and roadside infrastructure, with measurable benefits for businesses, communities and the environment, says Telstra’s Piscitelli. 

“If you look at moving freight around our country, across our road network, more effectively, you not only want to make it safe, but also more efficient,” he says. 

By connecting heavy vehicles to traffic lights, a convoy can automatically request clear passage across numerous intersections. This helps trucks get to their destination more quickly, doesn't cause congestion, and reduces both carbon emissions and the impact on road surface wear and tear. It can also have a profound impact on the bottom line. 

“A company that's been trialling this system at Port Hedland has had a 20 percent fuel saving.  Some of these companies, they can spend in excess of $10 million a year in fuel, so this is a massive savings opportunity,” Piscitelli says. 

Speedy implementation with cellular

 The way vehicles are connected to traffic lights or other road infrastructure is changing, with cloud-based technology and cellular networking providing implementation at scale and speed. 

“It's unfeasible to go and stick a whole bunch of kit at every single intersection,” explains Piscitelli. “Using cellular will enable you to connect an entire traffic management system without outlaying a lot of money from an infrastructure perspective. Instead, you’re using Telstra's public 4G infrastructure.” 

“Our network intelligence can integrate with the cloud of the traffic management system and, as long as the truck’s connected, they can use our network to send the request to the traffic management centre.”

“I’m excited by the whole safety aspect of moving freight from one part of our big brown land to another, connecting all the different aspects of that supply chain. Not just the vehicle, but also the driver, and everything else in-between.”

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