BlackBerry's Radar trailer and container tracking system announced last spring is now commercially available, and a Canadian cross-border carrier has turned a third of its 1,500-strong trailer fleet so far into "smart trailers" with it.
The fleet — Ontario, Canada-headquartered Caravan Transport Group Inc. — says the onboarding experience of the BlackBerry technology was "a positive one." Caravan President John Iwanirua noted on a conference call that installing the self-contained, independent tracking and monitoring system on trailers was quick and simple.
"Caravan immediately began receiving rich information about its trailers and their content, including the location of the trailers and cargo, the status of the trailers, their doors being open or closed, whether the trailers are empty or loaded, temperature, humidity and much, much more," he said. "We're excited to see the implementation of the entire solution across the fleet to fully benefit from the results."
Not surprisingly for a company known for secure communications, the BlackBerry Radar system operates in a secure, encrypted data environment and connects to BlackBerry's Internet of Things (IoT) platform.
The complete system goes for a set monthly fee and consists of a device mounted at the rear of the trailer housing an antenna and trailer interior sensor unit. The system has a multi-year battery and WiFi connectivity and is designed to be able to share data with systems such as a fleet's existing transportation management system.
"BlackBerry Radar encrypts and authenticates all data to ensure privacy in a controlled information setting," explained Derek Kuhn, senior vice president of IoT at BlackBerry. "It also provides alerts when rules are violated to deter theft in certain cases or just alert that something has happened and you need to pay attention to it."
BlackBerry saw a need for a more connected, simpler asset-tracking system for trailers and intermodal containers. "Simply put, we thought the industry was ready for a modern approach to asset tracking," Kuhn said. "That's what we've developed."
"It's a secure, end-to-end, smart trailer software and hardware solution," he added. "It's designed to bring decision-makers and operators near-real-time information, analytics and reports to boost operational efficiencies."
BlackBerry Radar can transmit on 2G, 3G and 4G networks, and mounting on a trailer door requires three holes — one for a cable and two for bolts. "'Frictionless' and ease of use was our focus," according to Kuhn.
First announced at the Mid-America Truck Show in Louisville, the BlackBerry Radar asset tracking system was rolled out over the summer. It's one of the new business directions the company highlighted at its Security Summit in July, where BlackBerry Executive Chairman and CEO John Chen quipped that the Radar IoT platform-based system "is going to be interesting."