Imagine an enormous quarry. It has been carefully excavated and throbs with activity. Roadways have been built to allow manpower and materials to enter and exit. Now, imagine how the quarry would look without advance planning: A truck bringing bauxite up the narrow road meets another transporting equipment down. They cannot get around each other. There is another truck close behind, carrying redundant supplies. Meanwhile, two more trucks start to lumber up, one half full of bauxite, the other completely empty. It is a mess, an enormous waste of energy.
It sounds like an extreme scenario, but in terms of inefficiency, this is what happens every day around the world with medium and heavy duty vehicles (MDVs and HDVs). Inefficient routes, miscommunication, human fatigue, and machine error conspire to waste fuel in hugely disproportionate amounts. But this can change with remote management techniques and cellular connectivity. The transportation and construction industries (and any other industry using MDVs or HDVs) can adopt these technologies to save money and make their businesses cleaner and more efficient.
Heavy Duty Vehicles and the Environment
Combined, HDVs and MDVs account for about 16% of total transportation energy use and nearly 20% of CO2 emissions. Business is booming in industries that rely on HDVs and MDVs, with growth in both shipping and construction. But this growth requires ever more energy. A “business as usual” model predicts that energy use by MDVs and HDVs will grow far faster than any other sector over the next 25 years.
Of course, that is only if no technological changes allow for a reduction in energy use. There are ways to decrease the use of fuel in both medium and heavy duty vehicles, and it starts with driving efficiency.
How Connectivity Can Make Heavy Duty Vehicles More Efficient
In the opening scenario, our hypothetical quarry had no plan to organize its trucks. In the real world, there are complicated logistics that govern vehicle schedules, but without interconnectivity, every part is working alone. When any single part – whether a truck, port, or warehouse – fails to communicate or behaves in a less-than-optimal fashion, errors pile up and energy is wasted.
A prime example is truck drivers in a hurry on roads that are not designed for varying speeds. Drivers will speed up to pass each other and then be forced to slow down, hitting the brakes unexpectedly. This behavior can cause traffic to slow for miles around. Those trucks could instead be in constant, effortless communication with each other, driving at the same speed and making allowances for those about to exit the highway. Just as with cars, such a consistent pace represents a huge advance in efficiency, improving fuel conservation by up to 20%.
Self-driving trucks are an eventual possibility, but for now, connected, semi-autonomous HDVs seem more likely. These vehicles will still take advantage of the human touch when traveling at high speeds or through tight city streets, but they will allow drivers to relax for stretches on the highway, minimizing errors due to fatigue and making for a more efficient route.
More interesting is the sequence of events when a connected HDV arrives at a warehouse. The tedious work of backing up to the right dock and making sure everything is properly aligned for unloading can be done by machines, giving the driver a short break. A remote management system will match loading areas with trucks, instantly organizing which trucks should go where and what entrances and exits they must use. There will not be any delay, any jamming, or any redundancy. Trucks will not have to start and stop and idle along, wasting time and fuel.
Remote management can also be applied to HDVs at construction sites (or quarries). Sensors in each truck can signal when it is full, and a human/machine hybrid system can liaise with other sensor-equipped trucks so that all equipment is accounted for. This will reduce scenarios in which trucks obstruct each other because they are not channeled through a central unit. Instead, they can talk seamlessly.
The Future of Over-the-Air Software Updates
It is clear that industries working with heavy duty vehicles stand to benefit from connectivity. To prepare for this shift, industry leaders should look to the example of smart cars, which have already begun to incorporate principles of autonomy into their design. These cars are reliant on software, in anticipation of being connected to infrastructure and to each other. This software can be updated remotely through over-the-air transmissions, preventing the vehicles themselves from becoming outdated.
The auto industry knows that as crucial as fleet management is, there are many components in an industrial setting. OEMs rely on software in their factories and on the line, analogous to the warehouses and construction equipment that must interact with HDVs. If fleet management technology is connected and updated with OTA software to ensure it is bug-free, secure, and always up-to-date, it can reduce the burden on overworked humans, promote efficiency, and conserve fuel and energy. A better business model means a cleaner planet.
Connected technology points the way toward better fleet management. Movimento has pioneered the next wave of OTA software for the automotive and industrial world, helping companies evolve in a connected and automated environment. Connect with us today to learn more about a partnership.