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Fleets are finding ways to harness trailer tracking data

As more trucking companies invest in trailer tracking systems, they are utilizing this technology in numerous ways.

Truckload carrier USA Truck has equipped its fleet of 5,800 trailers with solar-powered tracking systems that provide basic GPS location as well as cargo sensors that tell fleet managers if the trailer is empty or loaded, said Jeff Harris, vice president of maintenance.

USA Truck also is piloting more advanced features, such as sensors that constantly monitor brakes and tire pressure.

“With this system the data comes back through the engine telematics,” Harris said. “I can see air pressure by tire position as well as hub temperature by wheel position. I can pull up any trailer on a map and it shows me the data in real time.”

That information can help prevent on-road maintenance issues, breakdowns and especially tire issues.

“If something falls out of range, I know immediately and can direct the truck to the nearest shop,” Harris said.

Lastly, he highlighted the value of trailer sensors for yard management. Drivers can use a mobile app to find a trailer’s precise location in the yard. The app also uses color-coded indicators showing if a trailer is ready or if it requires maintenance.

Harris believes that as smart trailers evolve, they will provide more detailed intelligence such as anti-lock braking system faults, axle weight, wheel hub temperature and vibration, the status of tire auto-inflation systems, suspension status, brake disc wear and more data on what’s inside the trailer.

USA Truck, based in Van Buren, Ark., ranks No. 65 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

LTL carrier Pitt Ohio also is piloting a sensor package and soon plans to deploy the technology across its fleet of 2,200 trailers, about half of which are heated to protect customers’ freight during winter months, Chief Operating Officer Jim Fields said.

“We think we are going to have a very reasonable return [on investment] with the tracking capability for asset utilization and customer service,” he said, adding that fewer physical checks of trailers in the yard also will yield cost savings.

Fields expects it also will help with trailer turn time, cargo security and preventing trailers from being “borrowed” indefinitely.

 

Read original article on Transport Topics.

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