Untethered Trailer Tracking Systems
Untethered trailer tracking systems provide trailer identification, location, and status updates for commercial motor vehicle carriers to efficiently track and manage their assets.
Untethered trailer tracking systems are comprised of communications and computer technologies for tracking a trailer when it is connected to and disconnected from a truck tractor. These systems use satellite-tracking Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, supplemented by satellite or cellular communications technologies to monitor and track the locations of trailers. Date and time-stamped position reports with the longitude and latitude of a tracked trailer can be sent to a carrier on a regular, event, or on-demand basis via a website, or they can be downloaded to carrier fleet management systems.
Map Interface from Skybitz using Google Earth
Currently available systems allow carriers the flexibility to input asset management settings for their own operations, such as assigning identification numbers to tracked trailers, determining how alerts are generated, and setting up the time intervals for receiving information. For most systems, the location of a single trailer or multiple trailers can be viewed in a map format that includes historical locations and the most recent location of a trailer in various views, including views of the country, region, city, and street where the trailer is located. Also, trailers can be viewed within a specific distance from a specified landmark, longitude/latitude, or population center. Tabular views of output files can show a carrier's fleet and detailed position history of individual vehicles in transit. Using this information, dispatch, logistics, and management personnel can locate assets, respond to shipping and delivery demands, and identify underutilized trailers.
Some untethered trailer tracking systems may also be configured to establish geo-fence boundaries around individual trailers. A geo-fence is an electronic boundary that a user can create to monitor trailer location and movement. For example, a user could locate a trailer on a map and draw a geo-fence around the trailer position by clicking and dragging a mouse. The geo-fence may be assigned to a trailer or to groups of trailers. Geo-fences may also be removed or inactivated for trailers or groups of trailers at any time. Once the geo-fence is set and configured to provide an alert, the system will send a notification to the user if the trailer crosses the geo-fence boundary. Typically, the system will send an alert when a trailer exits or enters the boundary through an email or pager notification. Several systems also provide event-driven exception reporting. Exception-driven reporting will allow the system to monitor trailer position and check for geo-fence breaks frequently, but only send a message if a geo-fence break is detected. Frequent checking for geo-fence breaks without sending frequent messages lowers messaging costs and increases battery life. Geo-fencing can also be utilized in conjunction with some systems that provide trailer connection and disconnection notification information to the carrier's on-site personnel so that they are aware of this tractor trailer information.
Currently available untethered trailer tracking systems may be integrated with sensors that transmit information back to fleet managers and dispatchers. Various types of sensors are capable of detecting cargo presence, temperature, volume, radiation, gas leaks, motion, and door openings and closings. For example, an ultrasonic cargo sensor can detect the presence of cargo in the trailer by indicating if the trailer is unloaded or loaded. A cargo event is defined as the transition from completely unloaded to partially or completely loaded or vice-versa. The systems can be configured to wake up to check the cargo status at a predefined frequency. Utilizing event-driven exception reporting, a status message is sent only when the cargo status changes.
FleetView Cargo Sensor
As another part of the system, a door sensor can monitor an open or closed door event on the trailer. A door event is defined as the transition from open to closed or from closed to open. The trailer door sensor can work in combination with the cargo sensor, so that only those door state changes that might affect cargo are sent to the user. For example, it is possible to configure the system to send door open events if there is cargo in the trailer and to ignore door open events if the trailer is empty.
Most systems integrated with sensors generate trailer position information with every message and status report, which is provided to a fleet manager's or dispatcher's computer. Position information can be user-configured to be generated and sent at predetermined time intervals, and it can also be generated and sent upon demand from the dispatcher's computer. The position reporting frequency is configurable, and many systems have a store and forward capability, if there is a loss of signal.
T2 Untethered Trailer TRACS
In most cases, untethered trailer tracking unit terminals are compact, low-profile, and environmentally rugged enclosures, designed to be easily installed on the top of or inside the trailer. Untethered trailer tracking systems require a power source and power management strategy for long periods of inactivity, since trailers maybe stored in terminals for long periods of time. Currently available systems can be recharged when the trailer is connected to the tractor via the electrical connector (pin 7 on the J560 7-way connector). Some systems can be recharged via solar cells.
Possible limitations of untethered trailer tracking systems may include a loss of signal, cellular channel traffic overload, or equipment problems, such as limited battery life.
Untethered trailer tracking can provide an added measure of efficiency and security to commercial vehicle operations. In the United States, the trucking industry uses approximately three times as many trailers as tractors; therefore, loaded and empty trailers can be subject to both theft and terrorism. Trucking companies may often buy excess trailers in order to have empty ones on hand to ensure that their most expensive assets - their tractors - are kept busy, leading to the availability and accessibility of trailers and unattended cargo. Due to a lack of manpower and adequate trailer storage facilities, these trailer stockpiles may be either inaccurately assessed or unknowingly disbursed at various locations, increasing their vulnerability to misuse. When a trailer is removed from its dropped location and erroneously moved or parked, a trucking company typically conducts lengthy searches to locate it. As a result, both inefficient operations and security risks prevail in these situations. To reduce the inefficiencies and vulnerabilities relating to the lack of visibility of trailers and their cargo, untethered trailer tracking systems can provide the location of trailers along with additional information, such as cargo and door status indications, trailer movements, and trailer connections and disconnections.
Operations and Benefits
Enhanced operational efficiency and security are major benefits of untethered trailer tracking systems. Assuring the location and movement of trailers can improve security and operational efficiency by allowing timely recovery of lost or stolen trailers. Trailer yard operational performance can become more efficient through improved record keeping with the automated processes of these systems, since time is not wasted by manually searching for lost trailers. Technology for tracking trailers enables a quick response to find trailers and a tracking capability for thefts in progress. Trailer tracking also provides information about where a trailer has been and how long it was missing.
Typical operations in trailer yards involve loading cargo in trailers and parking the trailers to await a tractor to haul it away. With cargo sitting unattended, the risk of cargo pilferage from a parked trailer is high in a trailer yard. Thieves or terrorists may steal cargo by entering the yard, accessing parking areas, loading cargo in a waiting truck, and removing it from the site. Cargo may also be falsely obtained by personnel showing apparently legitimate identification and pickup orders. Furthermore, unattended cargo may be damaged or used as a potential hazardous weapon or explosive. By providing information on trailer positions with indications of a trailer's location, movement, and cargo and door status, untethered trailer tracking systems can be utilized to reduce the vulnerabilities relating to the lack of visibility of trailers and their cargo.
The untethered trailer tracking system can also be used to maintain an accurate inventory of cargo and trailers in the yard for secure and efficient operations. Yard operations can be better integrated with dock operations to efficiently transfer and accurately track the processing of both inbound cargo deliveries and outbound shipments, particularly high risk loads. Resulting performance benefits of enhanced cargo operations would be improved on-time deliveries, a reduction in yard congestion, and better cargo theft detection and recovery.
The installed cost of untethered trailer tracking systems varies depending upon the type of technology and various sensors that are included with the system. Most systems are a combination of hardware, software, installation, maintenance/service, and recurring monitoring and use fees. The cost of an untethered trailer tracking system, including software, hardware, antennas and transponders, ranges from approximately $600 to $900 for the system with monthly maintenance fees starting at approximately $12 to $70 per month per trailer, depending upon the type of plan that is purchased. Some plans include a flat fee, while others are based on a flat fee in addition to per-message or air-time usage fees. This price does not reflect the price of servers and dispatch systems, which can vary depending on the customers. The inclusion of various other sensors to the system incurs additional costs. For example, cargo and door sensors cost approximately $50 each. The systems can be installed by the manufacturer or experienced technicians utilizing detailed manufacturer guidelines.
|Fleetilla, Inc. |
1745 Fritz Dr.
Trenton, MI 48183
|GE - Trailer Fleet Services|
|GPS Management Systems|
480 E. Northfield Drive
Brownsburg, IN 46112
|Interlink Logistics, Inc.|
6658 W. Robinwood Lane
Franklin, WI 53132
|PAR Logistics Management Systems |
5152 Commercial Drive East
Yorkville, NY 13495
Phone: 315-738-0600 ext:846
1107 Hazeltine Blvd, Suite 350
Chaska, Minnesota 55318
5775 Morehouse Drive
San Diego, CA 92121-1714
|Safefreight Technology (USA) Inc.|
8000 N.E. Parkway Drive, Suite 200
Vancouver, Washington 98662
22455 Davis Drive
Sterling, VA 20164
1041 W. 18th St Ste A101
Costa Mesa, CA, 92627
Toll Free: 866-835-6447
|Vericom Technologies, Inc.|
9881 Broken Land Parkway, Suite 404
Columbia, MD 21046
Toll Free: 877-4VERICOM
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