IoT: targeting Fleet’s needs

Internet of Things (IoT) could be described as a set of technologies, enabling transformation of daily products (machines, buildings, cars, equipment) into connected smart objects, allowing them to communicate with each other, people, and various applications.

Even by definition, IoT is clearly a subject that fleet owners should not underestimate. IoT supports real-time gathering of enormous data volumes from various sensors, harvesting insightful information and monitoring driver behaviorfuel level, preventing data losses and empowering predictive maintenance. By going through the legacy and current data, fleet owners can precisely benchmark the performance, discovering new opportunities for business development and reducing the expenses.

IoT: Model and Architecture

As being mentioned above, IoT is  represented by a set of software, networks, sensors and devices working together. In such a component rich system, the overall efficiency would largely rely on the efficiency of each component. Here we briefly describe the IoT architecture and some of the building blocks that are forming it. An example of how a particular IoT architecture could look like is shown on a scheme below. It demonstrates how the building blocks of an IoT systems are connected to each other. Let’s briefly go through these blocks and describe some of their functions. These things are represented by various possible sensor-equipped devices and actuators (devices, that are accepting control command/electrical signal and producing changes of physical system states by generating heat, force, motion etc).

Gateways are basically the bridges through which data are travelling from smart devices to cloud and vice versa, providing connectivity. There, data from smart devices/sensors  undergo preliminary treatment and filtering, before being forwarded to the cloud. The cloud gateway provides secure data transmission, compression and compatibility. Streaming data processor supports a reliable input data transition further to control applications that send automatic alerts/commands to actuators and data lake, where data from various connected devices is stored in its original format. Next block is a Big Data warehouse, that stores mathed and structured data alongside with context information concerning sensors/things. Then, data analytics block analyzes data obtained from Big Data warehouse to find dependances/patterns/correlations. The obtained information may be further used to create algorithms for control applications. A machine learning block on its turn provides opportunity for data analysts to create more accurate models for control applications. User applications blocks are a software components of an IoT system enabling users connection to IoT and providing possibilities to control and monitor things/devices.

An IoT reference model could also be presented in a slightly less complex form, and contains seven layers as shown on a figure below. We will go through them from the lowest (Edge) to the top one (Center).

First layer is Physical Devices/ Controllers layer followed by connectivity and edge computing/cloud gateway layers. Next is data accumulation layer that provides possibility to store data for further processing. Data abstraction layer collects raw data obtained from various sensors and organises it appropriately. Application layer supports various IoT applications including control logic, process optimisation, logistics, monitoring etc. A cap layer of this model is collaborations and processes, where data processed at the lower layers is integrated into business applications. This is essentially a layer where human interaction with all the other IoT layers occurs and where economic valuability shows up.

Why IoT implementation could be fruitful?

If all the IoT devices, vehicles and drivers are connected via common IoT application, fleet owners could easily obtain and analyze various data sets like fuel consumption, miles logged, vehicle speed etc. This data after careful analysis could help them to significantly cut off expenses by preventing inefficient use and leakages of resources.  Nowadays fleet management is one of the most competitive markets, therefore reducing the overall cost by utilising IoT based telematics solutions might be a crucial step towards fleet business success.

Real world examples

Let’s consider a couple examples of how IoT technology could be utilized in fleet management. To start with, let’s consider Chipfox – a GPS IoT Tracker by Sigfox. It is energy efficient, lightweight SIM card-less device, that works with free web and mobile application, offering  GPS and SIGFOX Geolocation.

Its claimed features among the others include up to 6 years of autonomous work,  GNSS Receiver with active antenna, GPS & Sigfox Atlas Geolocation, real-time tracking, and resistance to interference and jamming.

Another example is The Remora2 – an IP67 rated and rugged 4G Cat-M1/Nb-IoT GPS device by Digital Matter for tracking non-powered assets where super-long battery life is required without sacrificing the frequency of updates and accuracy.

It features up to 10 years of battery life, IP67 Rugged weatherproof housing, Bluetooth v5 module, enabling it to act as a Bluetooth Gateway, and a 4G modem that is compatible with both Cat-M1 and Nb-IoT networks.

A message to take away

IoT is clearly a subject that fleet owners should not underestimate. IoT supports real-time gathering of enormous data volumes from various sensors, harvesting insightful information and monitoring driver behavior, fuel level, cutting off total expenses and empowering predictive maintenance. Currently, fleet management is one of the most competitive markets, therefore reducing the overall cost by utilising IoT based telematics solutions could be a vital step towards increased business efficiency.

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