The Daimler brand FleetBoard is setting the standards for connected services and digital solutions in commercial vehicles. In the run-up to Transport Logistic in Munich, the world’s leading trade fair for logistics and mobility, FleetBoardpresenting numerous new digital solutions for its customers apart from its already broad range of services in the capital of Germany’s federal state of Bavaria.
FleetBoard has turned into one of the most successful and most innovative providers worldwide. Big data, IoT (Internet of Things), cloud solutions and artificial intelligence are now expanding the basis for new and concrete business ideas and models. FleetBoard aims to create a genuine added value with its connectivity services to increase the profitability of all players in the logistics industry.
“Since the market launch of telematics-aided Internet services in 2000, FleetBoard has set the standards in the industry. To date, about 220,000 vehicles of more than 7,000 customers are on the roads that are connected via FleetBoard. Due to entirely new technical features, we are getting ever closer to our vision of seamless transportation: We connect all traffic flows and all parties involved in transportation. This not only makes the business of our logistics customers more efficient, but also helps to optimize traffic flows, reduce traffic and accelerate transport processes as a whole,” says Stefan Buchner, Head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
FleetBoard’s goal: to constantly improve existing solutions and to develop new solutions quickly and efficiently
To achieve this, FleetBoard has dedicated itself to continuous innovation in the industry. FleetBoard’s experts permanently analyze the daily challenges of the logistics industry to develop new digital solutions on this basis that simplify the logistics process.
“FleetBoard’s goal is not only to constantly improve existing products, but also to develop entirely new solutions for our customers quickly and efficiently,” says Dr. Daniela Gerd tom Markotten, Managing Director of Daimler FleetBoard GmbH and responsible for Digital Solutions & Services Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
“In the future, FleetBoard will provide far more than simply telematics solutions. FleetBoard will be the provider of digital solutions for the whole logistics industry. In order to be able to offer a diversified service portfolio, we were and are still open to partnerships with existing and new partners. Particularly when it comes to linking companies which are already active in the logistics sector with companies who are new to this field and start-ups, there is a lot of as yet unexplored potential. Added value for our customers is the priority here,” explains Gerd tom Markotten.
New ways of working: FleetBoard Innovation Hub in Berlin
For new ideas to become specific innovations even faster, the startup mentality already practized by FleetBoard for many years will be enhanced by the FleetBoard Innovation Hub in Berlin. Since September 2016, employees have been working there on products of the future, independently of the Group headquarters and the operational business. They come primarily from the developer environment and are very international in character. The career backgrounds of the people working there could hardly be more varied: from automotive engineers and IT specialists, scrum masters and user experience designers to experts in the specialist fields of artificial intelligence and big data analytics and design thinking. They work here together to develop ideas and systems for digital products or services. One of the key areas of work for staff at the Innovation Hub at present is the development of marketable products in the field of augmented reality (AR). The particular focus in this respect is on the integration of relevant vehicle data via smartphone or tablet. There will be numerous areas of application for augmented reality in the future, such as an interactive training tool for truck drivers or in the fleet management using data glasses.
Powerful basis: map services from HERE, the cloud solution Microsoft Azure
To develop digital solutions for the entire logistics industry, the experts start from a powerful technical basis. Since its establishment in 2000, FleetBoard has been co-operating with HERE and its respective precursors for various services. Using big data, FleetBoard in co-operation with HERE has now developed a new application that evaluates various data from a truck fleet such as parking or loading and unloading times, and visualizes the information in a user-friendly and clearly structured way. Through the co-operation with HERE, FleetBoard was able to analyze the capacity utilization of individual fleets throughout Europe and to demonstrate to companies on which specific routes they were often not operating to full capacity, and were thus uneconomical. In order to appropriately increase capacity utilization, FleetBoard will offer the meta search engine FleetBoard nxtload that shows all services and search functions of different freight exchanges in a GUI as a first step. Operators can thus quickly and easily add cargo to significantly improve their capacity utilization.
FleetBoard nxtload is the first product for which FleetBoard uses the Microsoft cloud platform Azure. In the future, Azure will form the cloud infrastructure for all FleetBoard services and solutions. Fast software updates, releases and the scalability of the solutions are key features for establishing digital products that will remain sustainable and can continually be improved. In contrast to backend servers, cloud solutions offer a wide range of possible applications that always start from state-of-the-art technology because the components can continually be advanced and expanded.
Many more new services already in the pilot phase
Apart from comprehensive services in a modular design dealing with orders, drivers and fleet management, FleetBoard already offers its customers a high level of connectivity with numerous apps for Android- and iOS-based end devices. The 2016 IAA Commercial Vehicles Show saw the debut of the FleetBoard Store for Apps, a platform that is open by design. From July 2017, industry partners such as bodybuilders or app developers will be able to provide useful apps in the store (https://www.appyourtruck.com/) that make daily working life easier for drivers, dispatchers and fleet managers. Furthermore, FleetBoard is also testing the use of new technologies such as augmented reality or HoloLens for their use in the logistics industry in order to enhance efficiency here even further.
At the event in Munich, FleetBoard presented for the first time a concrete outlook of numerous new solutions that will significantly simplify the central challenges of the logistics industry in the future.
FleetBoard FuelHub – in the pilot phase in selected regions: many companies operate their own filling station on their premises. Quotations for tank fillings are still requested from different providers in tedious phone calls. The digital market place FleetBoard FuelHub efficiently communicates between companies with their own fuel tanks as well as oil suppliers and distributors. This increases transparency and accelerates the ordering process for freight forwarders and fuel suppliers alike.
FleetBoard nxtload – with two important European freight exchanges in the pilot phase: empty journeys and downtimes are the biggest problem for goods traffic. The meta search engine FleetBoard nxtload allows for an easy search and booking of freight orders across different freight exchanges. With this additional transparency, FleetBoard nxtload can help to significantly increase the capacity utilization of vehicles.
SMARGO – prototype with logistics partner BLG Logistics Group in pilot launch: today, most orders in the logistics sector are still processed in hardcopy – drivers’ cabs are awash with pages of shipping documents, customs papers and bills of delivery, as well as safety data sheets, passes and special permits. Drivers must assign the relevant documentation to the correct freight. The open platform SMARGO is cloud-based and can map the real-time data of an order. In the future, consignors, truck drivers and consignees will be able to keep track of all the information of an order in digital form, document all process steps electronically and communicate with the parties involved in the current transport order.
FleetBoard Vehicle Lens – in the development phase. Vehicles operating in the logistics sector are often driven by various drivers. Legally speaking, the truck driver must undertake a series of pre-departure checks before setting off – these include checking lights, tires or warning lamps. Very often, drivers are expected to check the vehicle for visible damage, which is time consuming. In cooperation with the Berlin-based start-up company Everybag, FleetBoard has developed the FleetBoard Vehicle Lens app. The app uses live image recognition to identify the truck’s number plate. At each relevant point of the truck, relevant information is superimposed quickly and clearly structured via augmented reality.
Vehicle Scanner – In co-operation with Daimler AG and Josef Paul GmbH & Co. KG, FleetBoard is contributing its widely acknowledged software competence. A digital vehicle scanner controls the state of the individual vehicles using cameras and sensors and detects scratches and scrapes. Air pressure, depth of tire tread as well as components such as roof or roll-up tarpaulins or tipping troughs are detected. To do that, the truck only needs to drive through a type of carwash at walking pace. The vehicle scanner saves the time-consuming checking of vehicles by individuals, documents the state of the vehicle in real time, reveals necessary repairs and provides for a faster and more efficient vehicle handover.
FleetBoard HoloDeck – hardware vision: With the help of the HoloLens – a headset that allows the user to see virtual 3D projections in a space and to interact with them – it is possible to experience how FleetBoard creates the future of fleet management. A simple table with an abstract road map on its surface is brought to life by the use of the HoloLens headset. The fleet manager of the future can monitor his vehicles live in the three-dimensional landscape of the FleetBoard HoloDeck.
Source: Daimler AG