Picture perfect: Smart Camera Technology to Show What Really Happens in Trailers
By Carolina Ruiz • Published October 5, 2021 • 7 minute read
Increasing capacity, managing operating and insurance costs, are top concerns for motor carriers.
Backlogged equipment orders and labor shortages are making it difficult to keep up with growing freight demand. Indexes that track outbound load tender rejections by carriers — an indicator of how tight capacity is — are currently four times higher than normal market rates. This trend will likely continue before peak retail season arrives.
Tight capacity is creating healthy freight rates, but rising diesel fuel prices and insurance premiums are cutting into carriers’ profit margins.
One way to solve present capacity and cost challenges is by using technology that not only provides real-time visibility to the trailer status and location, but also delivers clear view of the cargo space and capacity utilization. Fleets can use insights from inside the trailer to boost asset utilization, move higher freight volumes, reduce cost, and increase driver productivity.
Trailer telematics data: more than location
Trailer tracking systems have been limited to reporting loaded/empty status only and some of the technologies introduced recently to provide more visibility inside the trailer are unreliable, do not provide a clear image of the entire cargo space, and in many cases are challenging to install and maintain.
“Having clear visibility and view of the cargo space allows carriers to make better operational decisions, increase asset utilization, and drive productivity,” says Siamak Azmoudeh, VP of product line management at SkyBitz. Knowing that a trailer only has an empty pallet that most likely showed loaded using previous technology, could mean finding a closer trailer, improving driver productivity, reducing time and fuel waste, and improving trailer turns.
Trucking industry has been looking for better effective technology to get more cargo visibility to increase trailer fleet performance, reduce cargo loss / claims, increase productivity, and improve customer service. Having “volumetric” cargo information gives fleet managers real-time visibility of the true empty or loaded status of trailers to dispatch drivers more accurately and manage drop-and-hook operations more efficiently.
SkyBitz has partnered with Compology to exclusively offer the most advanced and effective wireless cargo sensing technology in the industry, “SkyCamera.” Part of the SkyBitz SmartTrailer™ ecosystem, SkyCamera is installed on the driver side near the rear door in 15 minutes or less, providing full visibility to the entire 53’ cargo space. SkyCamera is triggered by the SkyBitz Kinnect telematic device to take cargo images based on advanced configurable machine learning logic and edge computing to capture cargo images at critical operation points such arrival/departure from geofenced locations, door open/close events, etc. which are sent wirelessly via Bluetooth to Kinnect. Advanced Artificial Intelligence technology is used to process each image within seconds to deliver accurate volumetric data (cube and floor space utilized), in addition to cargo Image.
Fleets that are now using SkyCamera are realizing benefits in three main areas:
- Maximize Trailer Performance. Trailers only generate revenue when they are moving with cargo. Utilizing Cargo Sensing data, fleets are proactively scheduling trailer pickups rather than waiting for customer updates, improving trailer turns. Utilizing precise cargo status, they are able to identify useful trailers that may only have an empty pallet, load bars, or other non-cargo items. Analyzing historical trends, fleets are able to identify locations with slow trailer turns and take corrective actions. Volumetric data is enabling fleets to utilize the entire trailer space and increase freight volumes to increase revenue. Volumetric data and images are presented through dashboards on the SkyBitz Insight web application, and through SkyBitz data delivery service.
- Create accountability. SkyCamera provides fleets a time- and location-based cargo record that includes high-resolution images and accurate cargo status. Access to cargo images at pickup and delivery points provides a clear record of how the cargo was loaded and what it looked like at delivery, enabling carriers to investigate cargo claims with more insights and reduce cargo claim costs.
- Reduce emissions. Although trailers do not have emissions, how they are managed contributes to wasted fuel and a fleet’s overall carbon footprint. With the accurate cargo status data and clear cargo images provided by SkyCamera, Fleets can locate and utilize the closest useful trailer, reducing unnecessary milage and emissions and increase driver productivity. A motor carrier that has a dedicated contract with a shipper, for example, might identify that its trailers are being filled to 70% capacity and discuss solutions with the customer to increase payload, to decrease costs and emissions, or reallocate trailers to locations where they can be more fully utilized.
SkyCamera technology, advanced cargo image processing, and AI provide scale allowing customers to utilize the data and only utilize the image as needed.
“What truly separates SkyCamera powered by Compology from other solutions is the use of advanced image triggering logic and automatically provide precise volumetric fullness and floor space measurements through AI, rather than requiring a human to look at each image, making it the only technology that scales for large fleets,” said Jason Gates, CEO of Compology. “The combined experience of Compology and SkyBitz in smart camera and telematics technology lets us deliver a simple-to-use, yet advanced offering that enables smarter, data-driven decision making, at scale, for better fleet utilization, reducing vehicle miles traveled, safety and damage prevention.”
VP of product line management at SkyBitz