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3/18/2016 4:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

The ‘Internet of Things’ Takes Hold in Trucking

This story appears in the March 14 print edition of iTECH, a supplement to Transport Topics.

It wasn’t long ago that the Internet was used mainly for sending e-mail, browsing news sites or making purchases, generally from a desktop computer. But that is changing rapidly due to one of the defining technology trends of our time — the proliferation of devices and objects connected to networks to gather and transmit data.

This movement, usually described as the “Internet of Things,” has opened new ways for people and businesses to communicate and transmit information. And the transportation sector is certainly no exception.

Seth Clevenger

Perhaps the most obvious example of IoT is the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, but we also see it in the growing number of everyday appliances that now can become connected devices. Examples include refrigerators that keep track of their contents and programmable home thermostats that users can control remotely.

BEST OF MARCH iTECH: More stories, columns

Vehicles are increasingly connected to networks as well, including heavy-duty trucks.

All of North America’s major truck manufacturers now are offering their own remote diagnostics systems, which can report engine fault codes back to fleet managers and dealerships while a vehicle is on the road.

Armed with that information, fleets can proactively address maintenance and repair issues to minimize downtime. The data also can be sent to dealerships so they know about a problem before the truck arrives, thus reducing the amount of time the vehicle sits in a service bay.

This field will only expand in the years ahead. Tomorrow’s trucks will provide remote diagnostics that incorporate additional information from more components, giving fleets an even more detailed view of their vehicles.

However, remote diagnostics is only one aspect of trucking’s broader move toward greater connectivity.

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