Within the next decade every truck will be “a connected truck,” and from there “it’s a short next step to integrating trucks into logistics systems,” according to Troy Clarke, president and CEO of Navistar. “Asset utilization is a big deal,” said Clarke, who comes to that perspective from years of running manufacturing operations. “You have to use your assets every minute possible to generate revenue in a plant, and I look at trucks the same way.”
Remote diagnostics systems like Navistar’s OnCommand are one way to leverage connected truck capabilities to maximize uptime, Clarke told Fleet Owner during the introduction of the new International LT on-highway tractor. “Connecting our customers with freight” would be the next step “in providing solutions to help improve utilization,” he predicted.
As greenhouse gas restrictions phase in over the next 10 years, truck prices will inevitably go up as manufacturers adopt technologies to cut those emissions by boosting fuel efficiency, according to Clarke. Fleets looking to compensate for higher equipment prices “will need more uptime, better utilization,” he said, pointing out at “every one point increase in uptime is worth more than 1 MPG” in carrier profitability.
Such a focus on truck utilization represents “a tremendous alignment of interests for fleets, for shippers, for everyone,” Clarke said. More efficient truck use not only improves fleet businesses, but brings better distribution networks to shippers, offsets congestion pressures by decreasing the number of trucks on the road, and ultimately contributes to greenhouse gas control efforts.
For Clarke, “the connected truck is that platform, the access point for all the data” needed to achieve such asset utilization gains.
Navistar’s newest investor, Volkswagen Truck & Bus shares the same vision for connected trucks as integrated elements in an optimized supply chain. It recently launched RIO, a cloud-based database connecting truck data with a variety of infrastructure entities that it has developed with partner Telogis. VW’s MAN Truck group is the first to offer RIO, but the system is brand agnostic and open to all truck users, according to the company.
The goal is to create “an OS for logistics,” said Andres Neilsen, VW Truck & Bus CTO. For example, an initial application for RIO is helping European truckers find open parking spaces, but also capturing information on trailer loads could easily lead to brokering any available space, he speculations.
“We’re not that far yet, but we want to be ready if and when it’s time.” Neilsen told Fleet Owner. “The concept is to create an open architecture that allows other applications to draw on that database.”