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Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Home Features Features Interview: Fleets, let's get agile

Interview: Fleets, let’s get agile

WABCO’s Peter Bal tells T&FME that now is the time for fleets to be forward-thinking

First the good news. Peter Bal, Business Leader Digital Customer Services EMEA at WABCO believes that despite tightening regulation and the acceleration of technology fleets can adapt to their business model in a changing market – if they move fast enough.

“Freight forwarding is and will remain a global necessity and is therefore not in danger. The global freight forwarding market has grown by 2.7% in real terms from 2016 to 2017 and was anticipated to grow at a real compound annual growth rate of 4.1% until 2018, as global trade volume growth accelerates,” he tells T&FME. “Focusing on the European continent, road freight transport is the backbone of trade and commerce: Trucks carry 71.3% of freight transported over land. Not only do trucks remain the most flexible, responsive and economic mode of transport, for the vast majority of goods and freight, they are also essential to the functioning of the larger, integrated European logistics and transport system.

“Most of our daily necessities, such as fresh food from the supermarket or corner shop, newspapers and magazines, electronics and appliances, clothing, and so on, depend on trucks at some point in the distribution chain.”

The continuous challenge will be the always faster moving market. Business models have to become more agile and flexible, he argues.

“Therefore, connectivity is the name of the game these days. By connecting trucks, trailers and cargo with intelligent solutions, a wealth of real-time information and, consequently, actionable insight becomes available to many different stakeholders – ready to enhance decision-making and improve operations.”

According to Bal, forward-looking transport and logistics companies should integrate connected telematics units to provide insights into the current activity status of their trucks, trailers and drivers, as well as in technical data such as temperature, door opening or fuel level.

“Fleet management solutions (FMS) play the major role in that development and should become basic requirements,” he remarks.

As one the biggest suppliers of commercial vehicle technologies WABCO has developed a series of solutions it believes can maximise the efficiency for fleet operations. There is the ‘Big Data’ enabled fuel management system, TX-FUELCOMPASSTM, developed by Transics, a WABCO company, which evaluates and improves the fleet’s refuelling behaviour without any extra or special hardware investment. It also recently unveiled TX-DIAGNOSTIXTM, which provides fleets with a detailed, over-the-air assessment of the technical health of all brands of trucks.

“This allows fleets to plan maintenance or repair ahead of time, to already pre-order spare parts and to minimise the actual service intervention in the workshop,” Bal explains. “TX-DIAGNOSTIX reduces vehicle downtime by helping fleets remotely keep a close eye on the health of their trucks.”

Bal and Wabco have been studying the development of intelligent transport platforms and freight exchanges, and the impact on forwarding and believes that the industry is following a course towards evolution not revolution.

“The main trends in forwarding have been known for some time: reducing emissions, electrification, automation and connectivity. The last two will be the main driving forces in the globalised and urbanised world of 2025, where goods travel without boundaries.

“Long-haul transport in 2025 will look quite familiar to what we are used to seeing these days: powerful, efficient diesel engines will still give our long-haul vehicles momentum. We don’t expect any significant shift to rail by then, because the rail network cannot offer the capacity nor density needed for freight transport. So, trucks will remain a familiar sight on motorways. Most of them will have been aero-dynamically optimised by then, as an aerodynamic design boosts efficiency with minimal effort.

Due to the ongoing discussions about autonomous driving, carriers will remain under high pressure until 2025, and the shortage of qualified young drivers willing to take the wheel will be even bigger.

“As a result, European authorities will be under increasing pressure to try new concepts, such as the partly autonomous driving tests that the US will initiate from 2022 onwards, allowing drivers to take a break while the truck itself does the driving – be it only on well-defined and construction-site-free sections of America’s motorways,” Bal believes.  In 2025, every vehicle will be connected via telematics and any defect will be repaired preventively. In this way, smart systems will pinpoint anomalies – that may cause defects – in operating data and, based on these insights, warn the driver that a repair is needed.”

The goods, too, will be fully networked and the entire transportation system will be embedded in a comprehensive logistics chain that serves the end customer or the B2B production logistics. He says WABCO is gearing up for the future, based on these trends and similar scenarios and hypotheses as a basis for fundamental, strategic decisions.

“Of course, there are a lot of options to choose from when deciding on what new products or systems to develop. That is why we set priorities for innovation and take strategic decisions that ensure the sustainability of existing systems.”

Like the Middle East, the European market has huge number of smaller fleets competing against larger operators. WABCO recently introduced TRAXEE, its new FMS which is designed to meet the specific needs of operators of small to medium-size commercial fleets. Bal says that the technology was initially developed to meet the needs of smaller operators in Europe where global freight forwarding companies are controlling the flow of goods from the continent to China.

“The transport and logistics sector in Europe is made up of various different types of players: There are generalists who do everything, but still usually have one specialized area, medium-sized players who have gained a strong position in one particular segment, groups with family equity that have reached a critical mass, nationally oriented companies with a strong regional presence as well as a multitude of small, locally active companies,” he explains.

Bal tells T&FME that the ten largest transport companies in Europe only cover 10% of the transportation market while 80% of operators do only have a couple of vehicles operating in their business.

“Therefore, there is the need to unlock potential to work with the smaller operators in the market since local distributors will remain important. Most small operators cannot invest in technologies the same way than the larger transport companies. That is why WABCO recently introduced TRAXEE.

“TRAXEE offers smaller fleet operators several business-critical functions without incurring large capital investment or management overhead expenses. Launched as a scalable and rapid pay-back solution, TRAXEE enables operators to better coordinate fleet capacity, manage driver activity and improve administrative efficiency. The system also provides real-time status updates on individual trucks and drivers while helping to address tachograph legal compliance requirements across Europe and Turkey. In short, TRAXEE helps save costs and time, and that helps increase margin, especially for smaller fleets as well.”

A link to multi-brand platooning

WABCO revealed at IAA Commercial Vehicles 2018 that it has joined the ENSEMBLE consortium to develop advanced safety technologies for multi-brand platooning on roads in Europe. This, in addition to WABCO’s close collaboration on the platooning programs of two global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), headquartered in Europe, marks another industry milestone towards autonomous driving for commercial vehicles on highways.

WABCO and these leading OEM customers are contributing to the ENSEMBLE innovation consortium which is seeking to develop and demonstrate multi-brand truck platooning in Europe. The ENSEMBLE consortium, co-funded by the European Union, will facilitate platooning-related technologies involving trucks from different manufacturers.

WABCO is the only supplier within the ENSEMBLE consortium that is able to offer turnkey solutions for the integration of braking and advanced driver assistance systems required to enable platooning for convoys of trucks.

WABCO will support the ENSEMBLE consortium’s development and testing of multi-brand platooning by delivering platooning algorithm and connectivity enhancements for WABCO’s OnGuard autonomous emergency braking systems (AEBS), active cruise control (ACC) and WABCO’ s electronic braking system (EBS). This helps support faster responses from stability and dynamic systems, thereby enabling a following distance as close as 0.5 seconds between each truck. WABCO is the first OEM-independent supplier of active collision mitigation and autonomous emergency braking systems, with more than 450,000 OnGuard safety systems sold worldwide.

In addition, WABCO’s advanced braking functionality now provides valuable brake performance estimation. This, together with its use of a vehicle-to-vehicle communication link, helps in optimum pairing of two or more trucks, allowing multi-brand platooning combinations. The ENSEMBLE consortium targets development of solutions developed with the purpose of bringing them in series introduction as early as possible.

“We are delighted to collaborate with our OEM customers to help pave the way for the adoption of multi-brand truck platooning on roads in Europe,” said Jorge Solis, WABCO President, Truck, Bus and Car Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) Division. “We are also proud to contribute to the future success of the ENSEMBLE innovation consortium, by bringing our technology leadership in automated driving solutions that enhance vehicle safety, efficiency and performance.”

“This strategic development in Europe is another example of how WABCO is mobilizing vehicle intelligence to propel our industry towards an increasingly autonomous and connected future. More than a decade ago, WABCO had anticipated technologies for commercial platoons that would enable several mixed tractor-trailer combinations to follow each other safely at highway speeds,” added Solis.

While its initial focus is on Europe, WABCO also expects to roll out its platooning-related innovations to other regions, including China and North America.

Within the ecosystem of transport across industry sectors, commercial vehicle platooning can improve fuel economy and reduce emissions due to the reduced aerodynamic drag for paired trucks. WABCO estimates that a two-truck platooning configuration operating at safe following distance can improve fuel economy for commercial fleets by more than 7 percent.

Furthermore, platooning trucks and trailers equipped with WABCO OptiFlow aerodynamic technologies can achieve additional fuel savings up to 7 percent in Europe.

Jointly funded as a public and corporate initiative, the ENSEMBLE consortium is expected to demonstrate multi-brand truck platooning on public roads in 2021 and to assess the impact of platooning on infrastructure, road safety and traffic flow. Funding from the European Union is through Horizon 2020, the EU’s largest ever research and innovation program.

 

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Stephen Whitehttps://truckandfleetme.com/
Stephen White was formerly editor of Big Project ME.
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