Since this is Friday, a day that Supply Chain Matters typically features supply chain technology announcements, we wanted to highlight one particular announcement that caught our interest. The announcement implies the ability to connect the physical and digital aspects of heavy-duty trucks to broader digital process needs, all with a singular user interface.
Earlier this month, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), announced both a technology partnership and equity investment in Platform Science, an Internet-of Things (IoT) technology services provider whose market messaging conveys development, deployment and management of mobile devices and applications on commercial vehicles. For readers not familiar with DTNA, the firm is described as the leading heavy-duty truck manufacturer across North America, producing commercial vehicles under the Freightliner and Western Star nameplates.
According to the announcement, Platform Science will be designated the primary on-vehicle fleet management software development and distribution partner, enabling truck customers to utilize third party telematics solutions and connectivity services directly from their trucks without aftermarket hardware installation.
In its reporting on this announcement, The Wall Street Journal indicates that today, trucking companies can have as many as 10 separate devices installed on trucks tracking for various specific logging or reporting needs.
DTNA further announced an undisclosed equity investment in conjunction with Platform Science’s recent $42 million Series B funding round led by industrial and logistics real-estate firm ProLogis.
Specifically noted: “Built-in telematics hardware from DTNA will be available from the factory with Platform Science’s software, eliminating the delays, costs, and inconveniences of installing after-market devices, cabling, and antennas. The integration of Platform Science’s technology will provide a seamless customer experience by including an end-to-end solution and maximum visibility with minimal complexity. Drivers will simply need to bring an authorized mobile device and log into their new vehicles’ DTNA onboard telematics system.”
In essence, Platform Science intent is opening-up the physical truck as an open platform for other developers who want to build broader technology applications that connect the physical and digital aspects of transportation movement. That in theory eliminates the need for having to install added cabling, antennas or after-market devices because of direct access to the vehicles telematics. There are additional options for integrating smartphones and tablets to the vehicle’s systems for use by drivers.
The announcement indicates a focus on fleet management applications such as automatic driver electronic logging, driver inspection, route planning or re-planning, navigation options and any additional fleet-specific application needs. The stated ultimate goal is the ability to deliver apps from a wide range of software providers , enabled by a single telematics platform which can include added capabilities such as electronic document management and processing, proactive maintenance scheduling or electronic connections to key customer warehouse or dock scheduling applications.
As consumers, when we purchase one of today’s much more technology laden cars, a smartphone or PC like menu provides access not only to the vehicle’s internal information and navigation digital systems as well as a variety of third-party applications like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or other applications related to travel.
What Daimler and Platform Science are targeting is a similar experience but much more commercially focused. The goal is a very user-friendly collection of applications and capabilities available to drivers and fleet operators including electronic two-way communications. Other similar approaches are being developed involving smaller parcel delivery vans and trucks.
Heavy-duty trucks with these new features are currently planned for availability in 2021.
© Copyright 2020, The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.