Extendable trailer specs

Suppliers aim to improve semi-trailer connectivity

It used to be that truck and trailer equipment suppliers only made hard parts. What was once considered out-of-the-box, more mechanical components and information has since been moved to today’s connected, data-driven ecosystem.

Today, commercial vehicle suppliers are placing even more emphasis on connecting semi-trailer data to create holistic units for fleets. They also focus on the importance of integration with existing fleet telematics software as well as offering turnkey solutions that could be a carrier’s first step towards a connected fleet environment.

Now available: 2022 Commercial Electric Vehicle Adoption Report

“When we look at the tractor-trailer relationship, the trailer contains information and data both when connected to the truck, as well as value when not connected,” said Mark Ehrlich, director principal of business development at Wabash during Endeavour. Business Media’s recent virtual CV Tech conference, led by Fleet owner and other Commercial Vehicle Group publishers.

When fleets are making decisions about trailer and equipment specifications given today’s abundance of technology options, David McKean, Business Development Manager at Clarience Technologies, advised considering a fully scalable. Road Ready, for example, is Clarience’s advanced telematics part of the business that provides visibility into the health and location of fleet assets.

During the panel, Robert Brazeau, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Meritor’s Front-Wheel Drive and Trailers business, noted that the industry is focused on developing sensor technology and algorithms to deeply exploit data from fleet assets.

“Fleets need actionable data, and they need it to boil down to what’s really important,” Brazeau explained.

Historically, the industry has had an abundance of data on the truck side of the equation, said Lisa Mullen, CEO of Drōv Technologies. Fleet owner in a separate interview.

“But the missing link was the part that carried all the goods,” she explained. “Connecting these two elements is essential.

See also: Smart trailers make trucking more efficient

When picking up and dropping off trailers, fleet managers today want to make sure the vehicle picks up the right trailer and when it picks it up, explained Pete Jankowski, Drōv Technologies CTO.

They also want to know that their semi-trailers are operating safely. That means using smart trailer technology to make sure all tires are at the right pressure, ABS systems and lights are working, and trailer doors are secure.

“When you look at it holistically, they’re a unit,” Jankowski said. Fleet owner.

“What we see from our data is that sometimes the trailer has moved or drivers can’t find the right trailer,” he added. “One of the other issues we’re seeing is that there are a lot of tire issues on the road. We have a fleet that’s done a few million miles on some of their trailers, and they’ve had over 100 major events tires, but we got them off the road safely and not sitting on the side of the road with a blown tire.”

In terms of specs for new trailer technologies, Mullen said Drōv encourages fleets to think about their current needs and what they plan to need in the future, especially when they start thinking about autonomous technologies. .

An evolution of the diagnosis

Leveraging connected technologies can help fleets become smarter and more specific about their condition monitoring practices, Drōv’s Jankowski pointed out.

“Our base feature set is being able to inflate and deflate tires based on load,” Mullen said of Drōv’s offerings. “We are seeing more and more fleets and tire manufacturers are interested in this ability to precisely manage tyres.”

She added that this is also true for the wheel assembly and monitoring its overall condition.

“We think that’s the most important aspect of the trailer – the tires, the wheels and the brakes,” Mullen said.

See also: Tether device puts an end to wheel accidents, according to inventor

During the CV Tech roundtable, Paul Washicko, Vice President and General Manager of ConMet’s Digital Business Unit, said the telematics industry is undergoing a natural evolution from its origins in remote diagnostics a long time ago. is about 20 years old.

ConMet, a global manufacturer of wheel hubs, also launched its eMobility business in 2020 to contribute to the development of electric vehicles.

“Over the years we’ve developed and understood what thermal vibration is for hubs that start to fail and for bearings that start to fail,” Washicko said. “This allows better utilization of equipment and pilots, and avoids thermal events.”

ConMet works on a second-generation prognostic algorithm that can detect a bearing problem even when it’s too early for a technician to detect something wrong.

“We have all these different components that we put on the board, but the firmware and the expertise that we drive into that firmware is what allows us to see this so soon,” Washicko explained.

“I hesitate to say that because everyone has been promising it for a long time,” he added. “But we had a recent event where we saw similar signatures on a bearing failure, which was a flat bearing failure. When he was brought in for a PM, the techs let him out and we said, “You have to bring him back.” When they brought him back, they ended up averting a catastrophic event.

Regarding maintenance planning, Meritor’s Brazeau added that fleets will need to tweak their models slightly to use the data as it comes in. Part of that will mean a better understanding of how they can get the most out of their components.

“It also gives them peace of mind,” Brazeau noted. “Each fleet has a different answer depending on their operation and costs. With the data we have now, we can help fleets improve their uptime, lower their operating costs, and when it comes to wheel components, we can apply data that will help make that vehicle safer on the road.

Towards an EV and autonomous future

As commercial electric vehicles become more widespread, Clarience’s McKean thinks vehicle telematics and connectivity will be all the more important, especially when it comes to range management.

“Knowing how much a trailer weighs and when is essential to recalculating the range, so the driver can get from point A to point B successfully or know if they need to go to a station charging,” McKean pointed out. “At the same time, connectivity is important on these electric CVs. If you can monitor tire inflation, for example, and minimize rolling resistance, you’ll get more loaded miles.

At Drōv Technologies, Jankowski said the company added more visibility, including improved camera technology, to its solutions. Drōv also invests in improving the weight estimates of fleet semi-trailer units.

“We worked to give them visibility into the safety of the trailer, so if something happens they can go back and watch the video,” Jankowski said. “Also, if they’re having trouble getting the maximum load and total gross weight of the entire vehicle – truck and trailer combined – we can help them get as close to 80,000 lbs as possible without exceeding.”

With regard to autonomous vehicles in particular, stakeholders agree that it is essential that the entire industry takes all appropriate measures and protocols to ensure that commercial vehicle systems are not hacked.

When semi-trailer units are paired, Jankowski noted, passwords and auto signals are masked so others don’t see a Wi-Fi signal coming from the unit. All cellular data must be encrypted, he added, and saved in the cloud.

“Even if someone got in, there’s a ton of security provisions included to not allow them to do anything that would actually affect the vehicle,” Jankowski explained. “Let’s say someone decided to set all the tires on a trailer to 0 psi. The mechanical systems will fold up and not allow the tires to drop below a certain inflation pressure.

What if someone tried to hack an autonomous system on a tractor?

“For me, it’s probably more critical to know where your systems are really secure,” Jankowski said. “I know some of these autonomous systems have manual takeover for a remote driver, but on some of them that could be good or bad depending on how secure they are.”


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