February 27, 2017 10:00 PM, EST

Phillips Launches Technology Division

Rob Phillips by John Sommers II for TT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Phillips Industries has started Phillips Connect Technologies division to consolidate its offerings of connected technologies for trailers.

The company has been based since 1928 on manufacturing products that connect air and electrical systems between a truck and its trailer, but President Rob Phillips said here Feb. 26 that his family’s business has to adjust to a changing marketplace.

“There will be more changes in trucking in the next five years than there have been in the last 50.  ... Our world is changing, our industry is changing,” he said at a press event at the Technology & Maintenance Council annual meeting.

As examples of the upheaval, he noted that Uber is a major provider of automobile transportation, yet owns no cars, and Airbnb arranges lodging, yet owns no hotels.

Phillips said the PCT division will “be introducing new patented and groundbreaking products that will meet fleet demands for connecting intelligent vehicles and to deliver information about their trailers effortlessly.”

The company’s Trailer Lock-Down addresses theft prevention and common mistakes. When a trailer is disconnected from a tractor, the system locks on the trailer’s air brakes.

In order to disengage the brakes, the driver must enter a code from dispatch into a control box. Not only does this put up an obstacle to thieves, but it makes it difficult for a driver to inadvertently haul the wrong trailer off a lot.

PCT also is offering video surveillance to identify people who break into trailers, and a diagnostics package.

Connect:Diagnostics is designed to collect sensor data from trailer components and transmit them to the driver, dispatch or trailer manufacturer. The patent-pending plug-and-play technology can read a variety of sensors, and not just those made by Phillips. Fast information about the condition of trailer components would be useful for maintenance directors, Phillips said.