Making a lion out of a piggy bank? To minimize operating and maintenance costs, MAN Truck & Bus has developed intelligent telematics services. They help both freight forwarders and drivers to keep a constant eye on the technical status of their vehicles. A highlight - especially for all logistics experts - is the TeleMatics app.
It´s not a matter of euros, but of each single cent. Logistics is a hard business. Surviving against the competition depends on whether a freight forwarder can successfully keep a grip on his overall costs. In this situation, economic engines and reliable technology, as offered by MAN Truck & Bus, are a key requirement – but at the same time, actual consumption must also be monitored, idle time avoided and routes constantly optimized depending on the order situation.
To promote the competitive strength of its customers, MAN Truck & Bus developed a telematics solution that can do all this as long as twelve years ago. Alongside the TGX D38 flagship, the new MAN TeleMatics version was one of the main highlights at the IAA Commercial Vehicles in September 2014.
MAN´s TeleMatics system consists of several hardware and software components which smoothly interact. Firstly, there is the actual telematics control unit in the vehicle. This permanently monitors all the important operating data, which includes not only the vehicle´s position and speed, but also technical information gathered via the CAN bus, i.e. the vehicle´s own network.
As a result, the condition of each individual brake or the pressure in each tyre can be measured from a distance - technology that is only known to most people from Formula 1 races. The data gathered by the telematics unit is transmitted to the deployment planning team via a GSM module. This offers an absolutely secure solution since there is only one interface between the vehicle´s electrical system and the telematics services, making it impossible for hackers to penetrate.
This data is hard cash for haulage companies. Replacing parts subject to wear, such as brake pads or tyres, can for instance be organized in advance – perhaps on days when the fleet´s overall capacity utilization is anyway low. To help fleet managers identify and plan upcoming servicing requirements well in advance, MAN Truck & Bus provides a maintenance data portal as part of its telematics solution.
The analysis of driver-related operating data promises even greater financial gains. Drivers noted for above-average consumption can possibly be given corrective training. "During several trials with pilot customers, we have shown that it is possible to improve fuel consumption by some ten percent based on driver analysis," explains Hans Welfers, Head of Electronics Development at MAN Truck & Bus. Each freight forwarder can upgrade his TeleMatics system with additional modules. The 'Time' module, for instance, automatically transmits data on driving time and rest periods, which is a statutory requirement in Europe. This can then be immediately processed by the payroll accounting department.
More and more customers are enjoying positive experiences with the telematics solution developed by MAN Truck & Bus. In some series, such as the TGX, the basic version is meanwhile part of the standard fittings supplied with the truck. New customers can then test the relevant telematics services for several months free of charge and calculate how much they have benefited - right down to the last cent.
A highlight for the logistics sector, which is dominated by medium-sized companies, is the app, which allows the position and other key data relating to each vehicle to be monitored via a smartphone. The iPhone and iPad version received the prestigious Red Dot Award – and a version for Android devices has been available since the IAA Commercial Vehicles 2014. This system also makes it possible to transmit data stored in the tachograph to the freight forwarder´s EDP system – from any point where a mobile phone connection is available.
Updates are continually being developed for both the software and the app. User interfaces are, for instance, constantly being modified, not only in terms of optics.
MAN is working closely together with a number of test customers in the Munich area, with developers taking frequent looks over the shoulders of the forwarding clerks as they carry out their daily work. In this way, they can immediately see where there is room for improvement.
You can download the MAN TeleMatics® app free of charge. The app is available in 19 languages. Usage requirements are a vehicle with MAN TeleMatics® and an active service contract.
It is not only freight forwarding clerks who work with IT support. Classic office tasks are being increasingly transferred to the drivers. According to Hans Welfers, Head of Electronic Development at MAN Truck & Bus, "We must prepare ourselves for the driver´s cab being not only his living room, but becoming his office too." With the result that in future, the cab will be fitted with its own network offering all infotainment functions. Together with Scania, MAN is currently developing a suitable new electronic architecture.
Mr. Welfers and his team are however not only involved in a lively exchange with developers in Sweden, but also with their automobile colleagues in Ingolstadt and Wolfsburg. He sees plenty of possibilities for working together, such as optimizing topography data for route planning or applying new development methods. "Our main contribution is our know-how in the field of vehicle data analysis," explains Mr. Welfers - expertise that MAN is also using to develop its own future vehicle generations. "If you know exactly how customers use their vehicles, then the development goals can be more precisely defined."