How trailer subscription services benefit your customers

Truck Driving Isolated In Desert

When it comes to trailer telematics, money talks. Saving it, that is.

Telematics systems not only offer asset tracking and cargo traceability, but also can cut down on labor costs, improve safety and boost driver satisfaction, all of which can bump up a truck owner’s bottom line.

When any conversation with a trailer customer turns to telematics, focusing on return on investment is good way to make a sale and keep a customer’s equipment on the road.

Lynx Fleet Insights Display

Hardware

Some telematics solutions come baked into the gear. Take, for instance, Carrier Transicold’s trailer refrigeration units (TRU). They have telematics hardware installed at the factory to support Lynx Fleet, the company’s proprietary telematics solution. Peripheral components such as fuel sensors, temperature probes, door switches and solar panels can be spec’d by customers, but the communications module, antenna and wiring harness come with the unit, says Scott Blair, digital program manager for Lynx Fleet.

“Shippers of perishable cargo have high standards for compliance, accountability and uptime,” Blair says. “They want to know when something is happening that can affect conditions inside the vehicle, like a deviation from the setpoints or a low battery or fuel level. Integrating telematics into the TRU gives fleets and their customers the control they want.”

Phillips Industries’ EC47 connector, a piece of hardware that enables a lot of the telematics functionality, will hit the market soon. The part, which has a backwards-compatible connection and additional adaptability for future connections, must be specified when the trailer is ordered.

Dan Forthoffer, corporate vice president of research and development at Phillips Industries, says the connector requires a different wiring system in the truck and trailer that makes aftermarket installation a challenge.

“However, the EC47, when launched, will feature serviceable parts dealers and shops can use to repair it,” Forthoffer adds. “To our knowledge, there are no other solutions out there that check every single box when it comes to future truck/trailer interfaces.”

Thermo King started including telematics hardware bundled with a two-year service subscription with their APU, trailer and large truck products in January.

“The intent is to help fleets understand the power of the rich telemetry Thermo King provides,” says Adam Jaberi, strategic account digital sales manager, Thermo King Americas.

Thermo King

What dealers can see — and sell

Many trailer telematics services have a separate, subscription cost to maintain the plan. Some, such as Thermo King’s, come with a trial period. Carrier’s Lynx Fleet has three plans available, once the hardware is commissioned by an authorized dealer. The three plans are increasingly feature-rich and, depending on the service arrangements, can give fleets and dealers the tools to monitor the reefer units together. They also provide Carrier Transicold data to identify and respond to trends in equipment performance.

“Lynx Fleet can provide remote access to engine hours to help identify units needed preventive maintenance and alerts when there’s a more immediate need for service,” Blair says. “[It] can send a diagnostics report to the nearest dealer so it can schedule parts and service, and provide directions to the driver.”

Thermo King’s TracKing telematics’ pricing varies on level of service, but Jaberi says month-to-month subscriptions and multiyear, pre-paid options are available.

“All of our dealers have been supportive and have adopted telematics into their day-to-day conversations and interactions with customers,” Jaberi says. Depending, again, on the level of service, TracKing can provide smart routing to dealers that have parts inventory and availability to repair any faults on Thermo King equipment.

It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict potential failures, preventing unplanned downtime, a key selling point when wheels turned means money earned.

Options with no subscription cost

Not all trailer telematics solutions have an associated subscription cost, and that can be a strong selling point for dealers.

Phillips’ Rear-Vu backup camera for trailers installs on any tractor using standard Wi-Fi and free mobile apps. Firmware and software updates are also free, as is ELD integration, installation and user support.

“We’re expecting the only cost of ownership after you buy one is your drivers will love it so much, they’ll want you to equip every trailer with one,” Forthoffer says. He adds the Rear-Vu is a perfect candidate for an add-on sale during service or when a trailer is purchased.

“The Rear-Vu prevents damage to people and trailers by allowing drivers to see what’s behind them while backing up,” he says. “It also adds to driver confidence and makes them more comfortable. All these culminate into fewer safety events, less damage and happier drivers. Pretty much any fleet can appreciate there’s a cost savings there.”

Additionally, Phillips’ T/T Pair is a solution that broadcasts truck and trailer connections either to the truck’s ELD system or to the trailer telematics system to catch mispulls before it leaves the yard. Full production of the product starts this month, Forthoffer says, and fleets are considering not only putting them on their internal trucks and trailers, but having contractors do so as well.

“We’ll need to make T/T Pairs readily available to dealers and shops so they can help meet what appears to be a significant demand,” he says. 

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