Photo: Sean Kilcarr/Fleet Owner

Peterson introduces 'intelligent' trailer system

March 6, 2018
System is designed to be “agnostic” so it can “plug and play” with the widest variety of trailer technologies, supplier says.

ATLANTA. As part of an effort to lay the foundation for creating “intelligent” trailers, Peterson Manufacturing has developed what it calls “Peterson PULSE” – a thinner yet high-speed-data-capable wiring harness that connects two controller “boxes” that allow a host of capabilities to be built into a trailer, customized to the desires of fleets.

Cory Adams, Peterson’s director of engineering, explained during a press conference here at the Technology & maintenance Council (TMC) 2018 annual meeting that the PULSE package not only controls and detects the status of several trailer systems in “real-time” – lights, anti-lock braking system (ABS) functionality, tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), cargo temperature, among others – it also alerts drivers and fleet managers via Bluetooth and cellular communications so as to help avoid road incidents and/or CSA violations, which can be costly.

He noted that Peterson developed PULSE in partnership with industry leaders in TPMS/ABS and telematics technology. He also said the system features Peterson’s LumenX LED (light emitting diode) lighting package and the harness expertise of the company’s Maxi-Seal division.

Adams pointed out that Peterson PULSE is engineered to CAN-Bus specifications, with high-speed, twisted-pair communication wires and sensors installed throughout the trailer, with all the components fully sealed, vibration tested, and built for the life of the trailer.

The PULSE cabling links front and rear control modules, system sensors, and communication components – just like computers in a network. “It’s like an information super highway,” Adams said. “Whether a trailer is parked or underway, PULSE enables real-time monitoring of all trailer systems – anytime, anywhere. There’s even a backup battery to power the system, whether or not the trailer is connected to the tractor.”

The “intelligence” offered by PULSE would also help to improve other daily truck driver tasks, such as vehicle inspections and dealing with fault codes while in operation, the company noted. With a smart phone, a driver can do pre-trip walk-around inspections to check for issues with any trailer system – characterized as a “Know Before You Go” safeguard by Peterson – while, when on the road, PULSE’s trailer intelligence detects any issues and sends alerts via Bluetooth to the driver’s smart phone or tablet, the firm said, with alerts also being sent to fleet managers via a cellular network if so desired.

Right now, the company said it views PULSE as a system architecture for new trailers and not for the aftermarket as a retrofit package. Field tests and validation are currently being conducted, with Peterson hoping to deploy PULSE as a factory-installed option in the trailer market starting Jan. 1 next year or thereabout.

Adams told Fleet Owner that PULSE is deigned to be “agnostic” hardware, with an “open architecture” so it can work with whatever telematics systems and sensor arrays fleet customers are using.

“We didn’t want to lock ourselves in by making this proprietary, by saying ‘the only way you’re going to get these features is to use our telematics system,’” he explained.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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