Telematics fleet management applications hitting the road

Truck manufacturers are deploying more telematics technology for fleet management, as shown by announcements within the past week from Hino Trucks, Freightliner Trucks, and Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA).

Hino Trucks, a Toyota Group company, today announced Hino Insight, a web-based location and telematics product. Hino Insight provides GPS-based remote fleet management capabilities to fleet operations of all sizes.

Freightliner Trucks, a division of Daimler Trucks North America, last week announced it will provide its vocational customers with a Telogis telematics pre-wire option. Available in Cummins-equipped Freightliner Business Class M2, 108SD and 114SD vocational trucks, Freightliner Trucks' pre-wire option allows for an upfit of the Telogis system.

Also last week, Daimler Trucks North America unveiled TruckerNet, a new mobile application for smartphones, at the 2011 Mid-America Trucking Show. With the TruckerNet app on a GPS-enabled smartphone, drivers can access service locations, parts information and connect to on-call breakdown assistance services.

Fleet management is a big growth area for M2M, according to Janet Schijns, VP Business Solutions Group at Verizon. During M2M Zone's "Connected Vehicle" panel at International CTIA Wireless in Orlando, Florida, this March, Schijns remarked that fleet management applications, such as tracking and diagnostics for a trucking company, are creating a growth market and offering a business opportunity. Schijns suggested that fleet management is a good M2M area to penetrate because "trucks are a critical part of the economy."

Hino Trucks and its telematics technology partner, WebTech Wireless, invested more than two years and more than one million miles of real-world testing to develop their fleet management system, Insight, which offers route tracking, geofencing, advanced vehicle administration, and planned maintenance management, real-time critical Hino proprietary diagnostics alerts, custom fleet performance dashboard reporting, and remote door unlock telemetry.

The Hino Insight Dashboard main page of the web portal provides a daily snapshot of a fleet's critical diagnostics status and performance against established targets. The Insight Dashboard allows fleet managers to simultaneously access real-time vehicle and driver-related information.
Telematics options being offered in Freightliner Trucks include Telogis Fleet, a GPS-based fleet management system and Telogis Route, a multi-vehicle route planning, optimization and scheduling system. The new product offering is designed to give customers the benefits and quality of an OEM pre-wire telematics installation.

DTNA's TruckerNet will use GPS location services, ZIP code or city name, to provide service location finder and parts specials. Drivers will also have the ability to access immediate breakdown service support with connections to the Excelerator breakdown assistance service through the app's one-touch interface.

The TruckerNet smartphone app is available for iPhone through Apple's iTunes App Store and for Android system phones at the Android Market, beginning March 31. A version for RIM Blackberry systems is planned for release in the late spring.

While the technologies represent potential growth areas for M2M manufacturers as well as advancements for both trucking companies and truck manufacturers, some truck drivers feel that monitoring and location technology is an invasion of their privacy, particularly for those who live in their trucks. "There is no 'freedom of the road' left for medium and large sized company drivers anymore," wrote a driver calling himself "Rambler" on a bulletin board. "It's a shame that companies spend a fortune on equipment and personnel just to micro-manage and somehow screw their drivers out of a nickel instead of giving a bit more money to them."

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