By Kishore Jethanandani
Machine-to-Machine (M2M), the tiny radio devices, sensors that feed bits of data from activities of objects such as moving trucks, have a whole lot more value when the data from each of them is aggregated to draw intelligence. This would be performance metrics like the expected time of arrival for trucks or cargo monitoring such as temperatures in cabins of vehicles carrying perishables.
Driving safety performance has improved significantly as accident rates are lowered with detailed monitoring of driver behavior. Risky driving behavior is predicted based on real-time data, aggregated from a variety of sensors, on acceleration, brake use, maneuvers and turns that are most likely to cause accidents. Drivers are cautioned when their behavior risks accidents. Studies undertaken by Trimble show accident rates were lowered by 45% and corresponding insurance and related costs cut by 50%.
Where multimodal transportation is involved, data aggregated from the gamut of means of transportation uncovers opportunities for business gains that would otherwise be not available. Portvision, for example, gained visibility into the movement of vessels by taking advantage of the AIS (Automated Identification System) which is otherwise used for collision avoidance by the Coast Guard. The data can tell, in real time, when the vessel is close enough to the shore to benefit from switching to cellular communications. Ships tend to spend a great deal of time close to the shore, before the cargo is unloaded, and can significantly lower the use of the more expensive satellite communications.
Telecom carriers, specialist M2M solution providers, strategic alliances and M2M marketplaces are coming together to interconnect sensors, devices and networks so that the data can flow seamlessly to central databases where it can be parsed for information. A global alliance of KPN, NTT DoCoMo, Rogers Communications, SingTel, Telefónica, through its Telefónica Digital unit, Telstra, and Vimpelcom will use a distinctive SIM card, a common web interface and will centrally manage M2M devices. They will all collaborate with Jasper Wireless to manage the M2M network. Verizon acquired Hughes Telematics in June 2012 for its fleet management solutions. Orange acquired Data and Mobile in January 2012 for its fleet management software. Masternaut entered into a strategic alliance with Telefonica for joint marketing of M2M and related fleet management solutions. Deutsche Telecom created a global M2M marketplace where the thousands of vendors could find selling opportunities and for customers to do comparison shopping.
Transportation and Logistics leads as the target market by Communication Service Providers for their M2M services. A survey conducted by Informa found that 52% of the carriers are targeting this industry.
Real-time M2M powered fleet management enables new services, cuts costs and speeds up regulatory compliance. In times of disasters or just adverse weather, vehicles can be tangled in accidents, stranded or rerouted. Software, such as that available from Agile Access Control, provides data on the status of fleets in real-time for contingency planning.
Data for compliance with hours-of-service regulations for drivers is not trustworthy as it was collected manually and was prone to errors and omissions. With M2M enabled fleet management software like Qualcomm’s hours of service application, tracking of hours of service is automated.
FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) governed rules obligate drivers to prepare a daily DVIR (Driver Vehicle Inspection Report) and submit it to headquarters for tracking maintenance or safety issues. With M2M enabled software like Cadec Global, the tedium is cut and processing of the data happens continually in real-time.
In the supply chain, the devil of underperformance is in the details of minute operational data. The data is impossible to track manually with any degree of accuracy. M2M will help to keep the devil at bay.
A version of this article was previously published by Innovation Generation hosted by UBM Techweb