Trucker 6608 Trailerrear 1

Making trailer lights “smarter”

Feb. 2, 2018
Giving lights the ability to detect failures themselves or even order replacement parts may one day help stave off roadside inspection issues.

Trucks and trailers require fully functioning lamps at all times on the road. Although pre- and post-trip inspections, if conducted diligently, can identify lighting issues, ones that occur while on the highway may not be known about until much later – often after law enforcement personnel spot them and pull your tractor-trailer over for a roadside inspection.

Therefore, simply knowing a problem exists so it can be addressed immediately is a great advantage, according Kevin Cornelius, business development manager of power delivery at Grote Industries.

Thus cue the demand for a “smart” lighting system.

Grote designed such a product, called the Guardian Smart Trailer System,  that can be integrated into the trailer’s wiring harness system at the nose box that can delivers real-time status of the entire trailer lighting system and works with any type of lamp.   

Its sensors continuously monitors voltage and current passing through the wire harness and is able to differentiate notable or sudden changes from those that are gradual and could be caused by lights warming up or ambient temperature conditions.

According to Cornelius, the same sensors can also be used to measure temperature, humidity, pressure, or other factors as part of what he calls a “bumper-to-bumper” solution for monitoring a wide range of tractor-trailer functions.

A new feature of the Guardian system now being pilot tested ahead of a planned April 2018 commercial release is a “geo-fence” feature that will automatically upload trailer lighting and electrical system information and send alerts for priority attention as needed. 

Geo-fencing allows a virtual geographic boundary to be drawn around a specific location, such as a facility or repair depot. Cornelius explained that when the geo-fence is crossed and there is a lamp or light outage on the truck or trailer, the system can automatically trigger a warning via e-mail or text message to appropriate personnel.

“This approach could even allow for automatic electronic ordering of replacement lamps, if desired,” he added.

“The ability to proactively identify and resolve any lighting, electrical, or other tractor-trailer issues will only grow as this kind of real-time monitoring system becomes more sophisticated,” Cornelius said. “In the trucking industry, access to this type of information is going to reduce CSA [Compliance, Safety, Accountability] violations and ensure safer, simpler operation.”

About the Author

American Trucker staff

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