Black Boxes in the Cabin

black boxes in the cabin

Many fleets have specific needs to be met by whatever telematics or monitoring solution they are using and often each one of these equates to more black boxes in the cabin. However, data convergence is happening the trucking industry. 

Systems like the one produced by CombineIT are currently a standalone product, with a driver tablet or phone app as the interface in the truck, but the strength of the system is in the back office applications which pull data down from the tablet and push data back to it. It is simply a web-based freight management system creating consignment notes, taking customer orders as well informing dispatch and job pricing. 

This system can also be integrated into other parts of the business, interfacing with accounting software like Xero and customer relationship management applications. The operator’s customer can also access the data on their own business systems, if required. 

CombineIT have also gone one stage further and been able to integrate the system with the larger MTData telematics platform, where the functionality of the CombineIT system can piggyback on the MTData equipment. This is where some real convergence can begin, where, what is currently a piece of hardware with its own SIM card and communication channel becomes an app on the main platform and is still able to fulfil the same function for which it is designed and useful for the operator.

This kind of convergence may have been available to the larger fleets for some time, because they are big enough to be designing their own systems and building in the functionality their large fleet requires. 

For the smaller fleets, which make up the vast majority of trucks plying their trade on our roads, the solution has to be different. This is where solution providers like CombineIT, and others, can come in. Apps specifically suited to the task or safety concerns the operator is involved with, can be added to some basic recording and tracking devices in order to create the quality of data flow into the operation to improve productivity and safety.

black boxes in the cabin

Similar integration is taking place between the various safety systems that are often just more black boxes in the cabin. Each system may be able to be fitted with its own functionality in the cabin, but from the point of view of the operator, it is preferable to package them in a way where they use common platforms for communication. 

Currently, DriveRisk are also working in the mining industry and can work together with other safety system suppliers to cover all the bases.

“We have a number of partnerships with companies supplying to the mining sector,” says Craig Forbes of DriveRisk. “We have an agreement with one of our customers where we are putting in a full advanced driver assistance system with breathalysers, seat belt sensors, driver alerts, fatigue management, vibrating seat pads all talking to each other. We are also a partner with the Mobileye organisation. 

“All of that information needs to go somewhere, so we have developed a system which takes all of the information from all of the safety systems, from everybody, and throws it into one dashboard, so the customer can see all of it in one place. 

“We are even going deeper than that. Having different systems in the cab is one thing, having them talk to each other is another, and extracting the data is a further opportunity. The question we are starting to ask is what are you doing with that data? It needs to be ranked and stacked, based on a critical occurrence. What are the priorities for addressing all of the information you are getting from all of these devices?

“We should be able to go deeper into the data and work out what are the ongoing issues and what are you doing about them. Is there a process so that these issues do not reoccur? In terms of in-cab convergence, nirvana’s a wonderful thing, but with them all talking to each other, what is the customer doing with the data?”

Black boxes in the cabin create data in the truck, becomes data in the operations system and in the client’s systems. Just having the data isn’t enough, the operation needs to analyse it in order to get some value from it. 

“You could almost ask yourself, what is our industry,” says Patrik Tharna, Scania National Aftersales Manager. “Are we in the trucking industry or are we in some new space where logistics and trucking are all coming together? We have to look for convergence within this eco-system. 

“In this space, there’s some very specific trends that we can identify. Everything is going to be connected, there will be electrification and things will be autonomous. There will be new business opportunities for new players who weren’t active in this space in the past.”

black boxes in the cabin