Thursday, December 2, 2021

Internet of Things (IoT) in Transportation

The transportation sector is ripe for the benefits that the Internet of Things (IoT) can bring. 

“Beyond what IoT is inside of vehicles, transportation is deploying the IoT, particularly in ground-based applications, spanning the tracking, positioning, and telemetric measurement to gain awareness into traffic management,” said Greg Schulz, an analyst at StorageIO Group.

“Surveillance and monitoring channels include traffic cameras, ground pavement sensors, traffic control lights and signals, warning indicators for on the road. IoT also is used for tracking vehicles and shipments for status and deviation notification, as well as for tracking what is being loaded into cars, trucks, ships, trains ,and planes.” 

IoT in Transportation Today

The spread of IoT enabled systems in transportation, however, is hampered by the age spread among vehicle fleets. Airplane ages vary from brand new to 30 years old. Similarly, trucks and cars from 20 years ago are still seen regularly on the streets. And trains on some lines can be quite old. Thus, there is a need to add technology and connectivity to aging transportation fleets or a rapid change out of old units for the latest IoT-enabled models. 

But the transition to IoT based systems is now going ahead full speed. 

“The IoT is already well underway in the transportation industry — Lyft and Uber are two prime examples,” said Don Boxley, CEO and Co-Founder, DH2i.

“In addition, companies where transportation is their core offering (i.e., trucking companies) are already using sensors and GPS devices to map their fleet of vehicles in real-time.”

5 IoT transportation examples

1. Fleet management

United Road, a heavy-haul transportation service implemented Uptake Radar across its fleet. Pre-built data science models are equipping United Road fleet managers and technicians with maintenance insights to conduct proactive maintenance, prevent unexpected roadside breakdowns, and increase driver mileage. The company is using IoT to combat missed or late deliveries, extended work order backlogs, and unscheduled downtime due to vehicle maintenance issues. Uptake Radar is used to ensure vehicle reliability, boost technician efficiency, and promote driver satisfaction. Each acted-upon insight from the system resulted in, on average, $400 in direct savings in addition to eliminating lost revenue due to downtime. 

United Road ships over 4 million units across the U.S. and Canada annually through a network of 1,000 owned vehicles as well as a network of owner-operators. The system ingests data from a telematics provider (TSP) and historical work order data. Pre-built data science models in the application monitor specific failure modes, including plugged diesel particulate filters (DPF), NOx sensor failures, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve failures, and coolant leaks. IoT sensors are deployed to feed data into these databases. 

“Bringing Uptake into our technology portfolio will enable us to become more proactive with our maintenance and avoid unforeseen issues with our fleet,” said Jason Walker, COO of United Road. 

2. Sensor-based improvements

The ability to install sensors and communicate with digital systems allows aviation companies to improve in many areas, whether in customer service or in their internal management. Virgin Atlantic, for example, is leading the way in this regard with its Boeing 787 fleet. The passenger experience is being improved by applying the IoT to elements, such as optimizing climate control in the cabin by distributing strategically placed temperature sensors throughout the cabin. The data flow must also allow information to be provided to those who are waiting for a flight in the airport to automate and streamline the check-in process. And in airline safety, components are being fitted with sensors to measure certain settings and to be able to communicate with each other and/or with a central system and, above all, with the ground controls. This is improving the efficiency and safety of the plant. 

IoT innovations: 85 Top IoT Devices

3. Streamlined maintenance

A Class I freight railway in North America saved time and money by partnering with Uptake to automate the organization of maintenance work order data using Uptake Compass. Prior to the installation, the company was trapped in a cycle of reactive maintenance, sending locomotives to the repair shop for failures every month. Instead of responding to locomotive failures after they occur, the railway is now able to prevent failures by making smaller, planned repairs ahead of bigger issues. The system deals with the sorting and cost-analyzing of millions of work order records by failure mode categories and inspecting descriptions to pinpoint the root cause of a failure and creating a closed feedback loop with data to track how implemented maintenance practices contribute to improving asset health and performance. The result was higher-quality cost analysis and a more effective preventative maintenance program. By automating the organization and categorization of work order data with artificial intelligence (AI) fed by IoT inputs, the company surfaced the untapped value hidden in maintenance records. And the railway increased the mean time between unscheduled downtime by 34%. 

4. Fleet availability

Sunbelt Rentals operates a fleet of more than 600,000 assets made by hundreds of manufacturers and available for rent. Partnering with KPMG, the company developed a unified IoT solution that optimized fleet operations and improved the customer experience. Aggregated data from 16 systems delivers a unified view of asset location, health, and rental status This boosted rentable asset time by improving uptime and availability. 

“The magic of IoT is that it’s an integrator of data,” said Katy Godwin Lovering, the vice president of operational excellence at Sunbelt Rentals. “Our strategy is to keep our team members in a single pane of glass from an experience perspective. Bringing together hundreds of brands and thousands of models with wildly different configurations was necessary to accomplish that.”  

5. Fleet management

Contus is involved in fleet management, integrating IoT into transportation fleets to optimize maintenance and logistics, monitor driver performance, and comply with environmental and safety regulations. Vehicle tracking, fuel utilization, statistics about driver health and performance, idle alerts, preventive maintenance, and service condition monitoring are all areas where the IoT is enhancing the transportation fleet experience. 

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