If you’re in the transportation industry, you’ve probably heard the term telematics. But even if that word doesn’t ring a bell, you’re probably familiar with the concept. In the context of trucking, it refers to the transmission of vehicle operational data that can improve everything from safety to productivity.

Telematics systems were first used (and still are used) in the tractor portion of a tractor-trailer rig. They can send information on a truck’s location, speed, and many other operational characteristics. More recently, telematics data is being generated for semi trailers.

Keeping an Eye on Essential Semi Trailer Components

Telematics systems use embedded sensors to detect the state of critical semi trailer components, like brakes, tires and lights. They can also detect states like whether a door is open or closed, changes in a trailer’s internal temperature, etc. These states are crucial to the safe operation of a semi trailer.

The ability to detect a trailer’s precise location is also helpful since trucks and their trailers aren’t necessarily always in the same place. Before the implementation of trailer telematics, fleet managers and other stakeholders had to rely on more manual methods, like the last location logged by a driver or service technician. That method has its failings, of course, since it relies on recordkeeping by busy transportation professionals who sometimes forget to make log entries.

Telematics devices never “forget.” If they’re in place and functioning properly (something that’s easy to determine remotely), they can provide the desired information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That type of data availability is vital to fleet managers, dispatchers, and others who may need information about a trailer at any time, particularly if a problem arises with scheduling, routing, etc.

Benefits of Semi Trailer Telematics

Trailer telematic sensors are often embedded in equipment. However, they can also simply be adhered to a surface to provide information about it. Either way, there are many advantages of using telematics, including:

  • Improved preventative maintenance programs. Knowing where a semi trailer has been, what it’s been hauling, etc., enables you to service it in ways that are appropriate for the types and amount of wear and tear it’s been subjected to.
  • Optimized trailer utilization. Precise information on how a particular route has played out over time helps you schedule the use of a semi trailer more accurately and efficiently. That means less downtime and potentially a smaller trailer inventory.
  • Increased driver productivity. Telematics systems continually provide data that a driver would otherwise have to obtain in other ways. Is one of the cargo doors open? Is my reefer trailer maintaining its temperature setting? Are my trailer tires holding the proper pressure? These questions and many others can be answered by viewing data rather than stopping the rig, getting out of the cab, and doing manual reviews or inspections.
  • Enhanced safety. Not only does ongoing access to data on essential systems make a driver more productive, but it can also protect them and others on the road. For example, access to information on a semi trailer’s status can eliminate the need to get out of the cab on a busy roadway and the risk that comes with that action. Or if the answer to the question, “Is one of the cargo doors open?” is “Yes,” the driver can pull off the highway to close it before anything makes its way out of the trailer and onto the road, where it could potentially cause injuries or property damage.
  • Improved regulatory compliance. Having sensors on crucial components of the trailer and tractor can help ensure adherence to everything from temperature requirements for perishable goods to standards for vehicle emissions.
  • Reduced cargo damage and related claims. Detecting problems with cargo—for example, the shifting of contents in a semi trailer—as soon as they occur helps drivers remedy the situations before costly damage occurs.

Making Trucking More of a Team Effort

One of the best things about semi trailer telematics is that data is available to the driver and other stakeholders. So, while the information makes drivers more self-sufficient on the one hand, it also enables schedulers, dispatchers, managers, and others to chime in if they detect a problem or have helpful advice of any kind.

As a result, drivers have, to some degree, a copilot (or multiple copilots) supporting them in their goal of reaching the destination safely and on time.

Looking Ahead

Transportation, like many industries, is being dramatically transformed by advances in technology. The information generated by telematics systems is extremely useful, but it’s just the start. No doubt, artificial intelligence (AI) will play an increasingly important role in the years to come.

It’s hard to say what that will look like, but we’ve already seen in other industries how much more valuable separate data points are when considered as a group. It’s not hard to imagine an AI assistant crunching the numbers on a set of factors like distance to destination, tire pressure, weather conditions, and real-time traffic to recommend a route change that saves time or fuel or improves any parameter you specify.

Get Expertly Maintained Semi Trailers From Boxwheel Trailer Leasing

Regardless of what information you’re tracking, a semi trailer is only as good as the company that services and maintains it. That’s why so many businesses in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Texas choose Boxwheel.

We’re known for providing the most carefully maintained semi trailers in the industry. Reefers, dry vans, or lift gates—if you need them, we have them or can find them for you. Our inventory includes semi trailers from the best manufacturers in the business, including Great Dane, Utility and Wabash.

If you have questions about our company, services or available equipment, contact us today. Whether you need semi trailers now or just want to connect with a trusted provider you can turn to when your shipping volumes spike during your busy seasons, we’re here for you and are happy to discuss your semi trailer leasing or renting requirements and operational challenges.

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