“Fleets, truck OEMS, and trailer OEMS should get actively involved at a higher level to drive a consensus agreement on the path forward,” said S.1 Next Generation Tractor-Trailer Electric Interface Task Force chairman, Paul Menig.
Tractor-to-trailer data sharing needs major boosts in regards to its connectivity, industry experts are saying. Luckily, more and more tractors and trailers are seeing a plethora of electronic and innovative sensor options to make these efforts easier.
During the recent virtual meeting of the Technology and Maintenance Council of American Trucking Associations, these kinds of connection upgrade possibilities were a main topic of discussion.
Currently, the enhanced Safety, Maintainability, and Readiness Through Technology (eSMARTT) Trailer Survey is set to be released through TMC’s annual meeting–which will take place in-person–in Cleveland during mid-September. This survey will focus on the readiness of rental and lease companies in regards to these kinds of technologies.
Now, TMC is exploring new studies that have focused on the adoption of automated and intelligence technologies by tractor-trailer owners, as these kinds of platforms and services are becoming more commonplace than ever before across the trucking industry.
“When you consider that GPS trailer tracking has been around for over 20 years and is still not universally accepted and implemented, it is easy to understand that getting to a fully eSMARTT trailer is going to take time, even after the best pathways are defined,” explained WIllGo Transportation Consulting CEO, Charles Willmott.
Willmott is collaborating with Menig to not only conduct the survey, but to analyze the data collected for TMC. Menig also serves as the CEO for Business Accelerants.
“Lots of new ideas and so-called ‘smart trailer’ products have been introduced in just the last few years by component suppliers,: said Willmott. “Individually, many of these products have outstanding benefits to carriers and other trailer owners, but collectively, they product a cacophony of noise I refer to as ‘innovative dysfunction’ that makes it incredibly difficult, expensive, and risky for trailer owners to navigate and commit to future strategies.”
S.1 Next Generation’s most vital subjects currently involve: high-speed, high-power signaling and wireless communication connections for drivers and other transportation workers to use on mobile devices; both wired and wireless air, power, low-speed signals, and high-speed signal connections; high-speed communication connections among autonomous operating systems, safety systems, and cameras within tractor-trailer interfaces; standard power line carrier connections within commercial vehicles (such as within SAE J2497) and their ability to provide multiple data signals between trailers and tractors, as well as their 7-pin connector and two air line power systems; cooperation and collaboration between groups like TMC, The Society of Automotive Engineers, and the International Organization for Standardization; and an overall future-focused approach to establishing efficient tractor-trailer connections along with trailer backward compatibility.
Wabco North America system innovation leader, Wolfgang Hahn, explained during TMC’s presentation that autonomous systems and advanced safety systems need electronic braking capabilities, and that innovative camera systems will be needing gigabit ethernet transmission technology–a capability that is already implemented in fleets throughout Australia and Europe.
“The brake control system basically becomes kind of a spinal cord for this overall vehicle combination,” he noted.
Field sales support manager for original equipment at East Penn Manufacturing Co., John Cathey, added that absorbed glass-mat batteries will allow for the “cycle counts you are looking for in trailer applications for lift gates and all the other power demands that you might have.” He also added that “AGM seems to be the preferred choice in the market today.”
In regards to implementing high-speed communication connectivity between tractors and farms, the agricultural industry is much more advanced than the trucking industry at this point, explained Haldex’s chief engineer, Dave Engelbert.
“They are currently talking to chip manufacturers to find one that can produce the chips they need for this high-speed ethernet,” he said.
“We could learn something from them,” Menig chimed in, “and, potentially scale better by collaborating with them.”
Trailers use these chips in their anti-lock brake systems, as well as in their tire pressure monitoring, trailer tracking, and lift gate electronic controls, Menig explained.
“There will be many more in the future,” he said.