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iTECH: Trailer-Tracking Key Is Device’s Power Source

This story appears in the April/May 2013 issue of iTECH, published in the April 15 print edition of Transport Topics.

Where is trailer No. 49343? How long has it been there? Is it loaded or empty? When was the door last opened? If it’s a refrigerated trailer, what’s the current temperature inside? Is the reefer unit about to run out of fuel?

This is just the beginning of the list of questions that matter to carriers. Inaccurate data or the complete lack of data on trailers can cost companies thousands of dollars every year.

The gains could be as simple as sending a driver to pick up an empty trailer from a large lot. The driver is given the trailer’s last reported position, but the trailer’s not there. Time is wasted trying to find it and the driver gets frustrated because he’s losing precious on-duty hours while hunting for something he didn’t lose in the first place.

The cost of potential problems goes up from there. Loaded trailers that must be parked temporarily on a lot are vulnerable to theft. Refrigerated cargo can be lost to temperature fluctuations. In each case, the carrier’s liability can be huge.

Sizeable amounts of money can also be lost or gained depending on how well assets are managed. With the right data in hand, carriers can turn trailers faster, improving revenue miles and overall utilization.

Trailer maintenance should be handled on a mileage basis, but without access to trailer mileage data, companies frequently send in trailers for maintenance either too soon or too late, and both alternatives are more costly than sticking to the mileage-based maintenance schedule.

The good news is that there is no shortage of technology companies that can provide carriers with the tools needed to monitor every aspect of trailer status on every trailer in the fleet. The challenge is deciding how much trailer information is the right amount, because there’s a wide spectrum of products available.

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