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September 12, 2021 3:30 PM, EDT

Phillips Connect Launches Two SmartLock Products

Rob Phillips, founder and CEO of Phillips Connect Rob Phillips, founder and CEO of Phillips Connect, describes how the SmartLock products work. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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CLEVELAND — Phillips Connect announced it released two SmartLock products designed to safeguard trailer loads — SmartLock Gladhand and SmartLock Door.

The company made the announcement at American Trucking Associations’ 2021 Technology & Maintenance Council Fall Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition.

Both locks are activated or deactivated by a digitally authenticated command via Bluetooth LE (low energy) communication interface, according to the Newport Beach, Calif.-based company.

Bluetooth LE operates in the 2.4 GHz band and is in sleep mode until a connection begins.

The SmartLock Gladhand has a locking pin and is intended for any asset requiring a pneumatic gladhand connection — or coupling device for supply and service lines between the truck and trailer.

The locking pin that prevents air to the gladhand can only be activated or deactivated with the digital command. It is powered by an integrated non-rechargeable battery pack and requires no external electrical connection. It can be used on either the red (emergency) line or the blue (service) line.

“Because we make these gladhands we provided a product that would work for that application. It took a long time to develop this. It is one of those products we got a lot of input on,” said Jim Epler, executive vice president at Phillips Connect.

“We can tweak this over the air,” Epler added. “Everyone is going to have a little bit different application for it.”

The SmartLock Door is a stand-alone device that replaces the standard seal and can be installed in five minutes.

With the SmartLock Door attached, the trailer door can only be unlocked using the digital command by fleet dispatch personnel, an authorized person at the receiving location, or it can be set to unlock automatically when entering the yard, the company reported.

Neither SmartLock Gladhand nor SmartLock Door is intended to be a theft prevention device, the company noted.

The fleets the company is talking with about them understand that and just want the locks to be incredibly hard to break.

“If the door sensor notices the door is opened when it should be locked, that is going to trigger an alert and the camera (inside the trailer) to display on demand,” said Rob Phillips, founder and CEO of Phillips Connect. He described that as an instance of collaborative technologies working together.

Asked about the increasing opportunity to gather sophisticated data from trailers, Phillips said Great Dane “did a good job making its FleetPulse standard.”

Great Dane announced in August its FleetPulse telematics platform is now standard on its new dry and refrigerated trailers, including an integrated controller area network harness to prepare equipment for future smart technology adoption — and noted it is the first trailer maker to do so.

Getting the word out even more about these technologies is needed now, he said.

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Phillips is installing its technology with 18,500 retrofits, and on 10,000 new trailers for different fleets.

He said co-marketing campaigns are in the works with those large fleet customers to show how it is working for them. “A lot of the midsize fleets look to these larger fleets to see what they are they doing.”

Phillips said it was also working with Utility Trailer Manufacturing Co. and Hyundai Translead to get its products on those trailers, too.

“I think the next step is for a few of these other trailer makers to make it standard. There are still a lot of fleets out there who say ‘I don’t need all that fancy stuff. I just need to know where my trailers are,’ ” Phillips said. “The reality is they do [need it], but they just don’t know it.”

Earlier this year, Phillips said, “Our strategy has been to work with the best suppliers in the industry to be that integration hub between all that data that is coming in.”

Phillips Connect is a stand-alone company within Phillips Technologies Group. It has developed open system platforms that consolidate smart components onto one central hub, using one data plan to deliver actionable alerts to the driver, and customizable fleet management dashboards to the fleet’s operations or dispatch teams.

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