Bendix plugs in to telematics

March 2, 2006
Real-time asset tracking technology has evolved to the point where suppliers of all major commercial vehicle systems are readying its products to hook up to these systems

Real-time asset tracking technology has evolved to the point where suppliers of all major commercial vehicle systems are readying its products to hook up to these systems. And brake manufacturers are no exception. Bendix’s ABS-6 Advanced with ESP (electronic stability system) is controlled by a central computer that’s ready to be plugged into a telematics unit to communicate incident information to fleet managers as it occurs.

Bendix invited the press to a demonstration of its premium brake system here at Keweenaw Research Center in Houghton, MI, where it also outlined its plans to develop packages with telematics providers such as Qualcomm.

Although telematics is certainly not part of Bendix’s core businesses in air brakes and filtration systems, it is a technology that the company couldn’t afford to overlook. A telematics-ready Bendix system, which is primarily designed to reduce the likelihood of jackknifing and rollovers, could give it the features needed to make the sale, according to company officials.

“The key thing is that we see this information as valuable, helping the fleet understand what’s happening in the field, run as efficiently as possible, and provide maximum return on investment [in the ABS-6 Advanced system],” Fred Andersky, marketing manager- electronics, told FleetOwner.

“Fleets tell us, don’t send me pages and pages of data-- send me what’s usable and actionable,” said Kevin Romanchok, Bendix product line director- electronics. “They are the trend setters— the innovators who are really pushing the…[product]…into a usable technology that delivers a good return on investment.”

According to Bendix, the key benefits of transmitting data from the advanced ABS system in real-time is that it gives fleet managers more tools to proactively handle incidents such as diagnostic issues and collisions, as well as immediately address driver performance issues.

Driver performance monitoring remains a controversial issue as the trucking industry works its way through privacy issues. The technology has the potential to be either an effective training tool for fleet managers when they notice incidents such as hard braking, or stability loss—or a big nuisance to drivers.

But for now, Bendix is in contact with fleet customers to weigh their views on those issues, as well as with telematics firms to develop an effective solutions package. Romanchok describes it as a constantly evolving process.

“Literally, we have one individual [in Bendix] who is almost completely focused on [telematics],” said Romanchok. “We’ve been working on addressing [telematics] for the last three years. We…[planned]…what we’re going to store onboard and transmit on a regular basis. What this helps us with, from a business perspective, is differentiation [of our product].

“It’s going to be a year from now before the dust has settles and we have a better understanding of what would make the best solution for the fleets. We’re having these types of discussions with various providers.”

Romanchok believes by mid- to late-2006 an integrated telematics package will be deployed at various fleets. “The programs are underway,” he says. “It’s just a matter of how it gets rolled out, to whom and in what quantity. It’s too early to tell what that distribution will look like.”

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Terrence Nguyen

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