Big data is helping to redraw the transport map. Connected vehicles are already providing operators with the ability to both keep tabs on truck fleets and to tailor servicing. And the trend has only just begun.
When Mario Götze kicked the goal that allowed Germany to take both a 1-0 victory over Argentina and the gold medal in the 2014 FIFA World Cup final, it was more than just a sporting achievement. Technology also played a key role in the win, with the German team making use of advances in connectivity to prepare themselves for each World Cup match.
Using sensors in the ball and in the players’ boots, the team collected wireless data which was used to analyse what worked and what didn’t work in match situations. This was used to help it adapt its training techniques ahead of each match.
The team’s use of technology is an example of “the Internet of things” where connected devices communicate with each other. It also demonstrated one of the applications for “big data” – huge quantities of information that, in the corporate world, can be analysed in order to create efficiency and smart business solutions.
Transport is one of the industries where developments are moving fastest in this field. The advantages are obvious in a sector where efficient flows are a requirement for profitability.
Scania is investing heavily in this area. The number of Scania vehicles in which on-board computers wirelessly send information to fleet management systems and workshops will soon surpass 100,000.
Better planning with connected vehicles
“With connected vehicles, we can obtain a huge amount of valuable information in real time, which will benefit our customers as services can be tailored to specific needs,” says Mattias Lundholm, Head of Connected Services and Solutions at Scania. “This includes a focus on lower fuel consumption, through better understanding of the driver’s driving style with throttle position, idling and hard braking. But we can also get information about error codes so that our workshops can make quick analyses and prepare themselves for a coming servicing assignment.”
However, according to Lundholm, what’s important is not the amount of information that can be gathered, but rather that the information is used in the right way.
“This connectivity means that transport companies can plan their flows better in all areas – such as fleet management, driver behaviour and servicing,” he says. “And since we at Scania can connect our customers’ flows with our own, we can be much more efficient in our workshop network. All of this means less downtime and makes it possible for our customers to keep vehicles out on the roads where they can contribute to earnings and profitability.”
Big data is an important trend
Martin Garner, a mobility expert at the British analysis firm CCS Insight, said in an interview for communication technology company Ericsson that big data is one of the most important trends in the technology sector. There are numerous interesting projects underway within various companies and in different sectors.
“But I think the networked society starts to become real when these projects begin to join up and we can do intelligent things across sectors,” said Garner.
Lundholm agrees: “We see the importance of building open technical interfaces and of working for standardisation in the industry. Therefore we are making preparations to ensure that our trucks, buses and engine installations will be included in ‘ecosystems’ where machinery can communicate with each other and with people.”
In this way, a transport company can obtain real-time information in the same system not only about the condition of vehicles but can also get information from superstructures such as cement mixers, cooling units and trailers. Another possibility is to connect a complete transport flow, in which several different systems are included. (See example in the fact box below).
“And in the not too distant future, we will be able to see autonomous trucks that operate themselves and vehicles that communicate directly with each other in service. In this way, a vehicle can warn a vehicle behind of a road obstacle or a heavy rain storm.”
Examples of Big data
Scania is carrying out a pilot project in which the entire transport flow of a mine is measured on the basis of selected KPIs, Key Performance Indicators. Data is sent wirelessly every second from the trucks in the production flow to Scania’s field workshop, which is responsible for meeting contractual targets on a certain quantity of material and a certain level of uptime in percentage terms. In this way, key decisions which affect the operation of the mine can be taken in real-time. This is a first step towards measuring transport services for efficiency and production volume in a logistics flow rather than as a cost of the investment.
Sensors in the Boots
The German national football team uses a system developed by computer company SAP to analyse huge quantities of data in order to adapt their training and prepare the team for future matches. The system is built on sensors in the ball and in the players’ boots, which send information to the system wirelessly.
Turn on that Racket
When Julia Görges, German tennis player ranked 81 in the world rankings, steps out on court, she does something unusual: she switches on her racket. She is one of the first in world tennis to test a new digital racket from the manufacturer Babolat, which sends information to an app about power, type of stroke and where the ball hit on the surface area of the racket. In this way, she can analyse each match and see what she will improve for the next one.