Electronic Products & Technology


How IoT is fueling a modern approach to asset tracking

Trucking for the long haul: The IoT-based system monitors the location of containers and delivers timely, actionable data...via a secure, online portal.

The expansion of Internet of Things (IoT) technology is driving transformation in the global freight shipping market. With shipping volumes higher than ever, the need for efficiency in the trucking and logistics industry has never been more important. Improving trailer utilization and reducing theft and delayed or spoiled cargo are a few examples of problems that must be solved. ‘Trailer intelligence’ that leverages IoT is a key part of the solution. 

For decades, many big and complex industries were managed by the intuition and the experience of decision makers. Now, IoT tools for collecting and analyzing data are dramatically changing how business gets done. Fleet management is undergoing a similar shift as the technologies for collecting, analyzing and sharing data become more powerful, cost-efficient and easier to use.

Any trailer asset being hauled – whether it’s a dry van trailer, chassis or flatbed – represents valuable cargo, essentially a shipper’s source of revenue. Ensuring that a payload is picked up, transported and delivered on time and in the condition expected by a customer is paramount to a carrier’s reputation and success as a supplier.

Reliable trailer intelligence is required to achieve this. Trailer intelligence can help shippers become better suppliers and improve both top and bottom line. It can boost revenue by capturing once-missed opportunities, such as knowing when to charge detention fees, as well as by improving trailer utilization, maintenance schedules and productivity.

“Indeed, precise, real-time tracking of freight as enabled by IoT is ‘a new gold standard’ in the freight industry,” says Andy Castonguay, principal analyst at Machina Research.

The BlackBerry Radar family of products is an all-encompassing asset tracking solution that gives fleet assets such as trailers, vans, containers, flatbeds, chassis and equipment the intelligence to securely communicate in near real-time.

Benefits include real-time tracking of the precise location of assets, monitoring of their detailed physical condition, and associated data analytics. Rich, timely data boosts operational efficiencies and can maximize revenue from every trailer and shipping container.

Over the next decade, the American Trucking Associations project significant growth for freight transportation overall and for the trucking industry. In 2017, 15 billion tons of freight will be moved by all modes, according to a recent ATA forecast – rising 36.6% to nearly 21 billion tons in 2028.

Maximizing efficiency and the bottom line

Taking time, money and guesswork out of the supply chain is a top priority for executives across transportation logistics sectors to support that growth. The recent spate of natural disasters highlights the pressures on supply chain management.

BlackBerry Radar addresses many of these challenges, with a secure, end-to-end solution for tracking and monitoring cargo and mobile fleet assets. It is also cloud-based, which means there’s no need for investment in costly IT infrastructure.

Prior industry solutions largely focused on the cab and didn’t address the need for a truly secure, efficient and comprehensive trailer management service. Most current methods of obtaining information about a trailer or intermodal container are insufficient because the data is typically not real-time or updated frequently enough to make timely decisions.

To solve this issue, BlackBerry leveraged its deep technology portfolio and expertise in security, mobility and enterprise software to deliver near real-time information, analytics and reports to boost operational efficiencies. With multi-sensor measurement intervals taken every five minutes and a configurable data upload rate, BlackBerry Radar devices collect up to 100 times more data than traditional GPS based track and trace solutions.

BlackBerry leveraged expertise in security, mobility and enterprise software

The system includes an easy-to-install and low-maintenance device, industry-specific web-based applications for powerful and intuitive business analytics with cellular connectivity and continuous product improvements via regular over-the-air software updates.

The IoT-based system monitors the location of containers and delivers timely, actionable data to transportation managers via a secure, online portal. Unlike previous-generation truck tracking technologies, it takes only minutes to install and immediately generates rich, real-time information in an intuitive user interface.

BlackBerry Radar devices can be installed and activated in under 10 minutes by virtually anyone. There is no requirement to connect to external power sources or additional sensors—everything is self-contained in the device. Operating on the highest-performing battery in the industry, BlackBerry Radar is a secure solution with a multi-year life. The portal is accessible from practically any location on any smartphone, tablet or computer. The system optimizes usage of trailers and shipping containers, improves on-time delivery and lets operators generate more revenue per trailer. 

Operations managers, load planners and dispatchers can use the data to determine where their trailers and shipping containers are located, how they’re being used and identify (and prevent) potential opportunities for theft or drains on efficiency.

In addition to monitoring a truck’s location via GPS, the system can send custom, near real-time alerts about events such as when a truck has crossed a user-defined geofence or when a trailer door has opened or closed. It also monitors temperature, humidity and the presence of cargo to check for problems that might increase the risk (and expense) if shipments are damaged or lost. It can also automatically notify warehouse staff of a trailer’s impending arrival so they’re ready to load or unload it when the truck gets there.

Like others before it, the trucking and logistics industry is not only ripe for disruption but ripe for numerous improvements that are just waiting to be achieved. However, performance gains such as improved utilization and efficiencies can only happen if a business owner has continuous visibility into all assets in their transportation fleet.

Philip Poulidis, SVP and GM of Radar at BlackBerry Technology Solutions (BTS)

BlackBerry Radar offers an easy-to-use and intuitive tracking and monitoring solution that takes the elements of data, security and reporting to deliver industry-leading visibility into cargo and mobile fleet assets – in other words, industry-leading intelligence that allows operators to build a smarter fleet and sharpen their competitive edge.