Definitely an interdisciplinary field, telematics encompasses telecommunications, vehicular technologies, road transportation, road safety, electrical engineering (including sensors, instrumentation, and wireless communications), and computer science.
Among its various capabilities, telematics can involve the integrated use of telecommunications and informatics, which is the science of processing data for storage and retrieval, for application in vehicles and with control of vehicles on the move.
Telematics is critical for recording pertinent data to meet shippers’ needs as well as for complying with the new FSMA sanitary transportation rules, says Gayatri Abbott, MBA, connected solutions product manager for Thermo King Corp. North America, Minneapolis, Minn.
“Recording, demonstrating, and retaining transportation temperature control data for 12 months is an important proof of compliance element required within FSMA,” Abbott points out. “With a Thermo King telematics solution, carriers can easily deliver proof-of-compliance data to their customers for any given point throughout their travels.”
To that end, Thermo King’s trademarked telematics offerings include the company’s signature TracKing, an integrated solution that gives fleets real-time visibility of their refrigerated assets, allowing them to monitor critical cargo temperatures, trailer locations, and refrigeration units through the dispatch process from pickup to delivery. TracKing was first introduced in Europe in 2006, and then in the U.S. in 2009.
“TracKing is a web-enabled system that provides fleet owners the tools to protect their assets, improve their response times, and manage their operating costs while maintaining the highest food safety and quality standards,” Abbott relates. “With TracKing, shippers can monitor and control temperatures, track and trace shipments, and receive real-time notifications for time-sensitive events such as temperature changes, open doors, refrigeration system fuel levels, and battery life.”
Available since January 2016, TempuTrak is Thermo King’s temperature and location management tool for direct-drive trucks, heaters, and non-Thermo King refrigeration units that provides visibility of assets on the TracKing platform.
TrailerTrak, also on the market since January 2016, is a GPS-based trailer management solution for non-refrigerated trailers, tankers, and flatbed trailers that provides fleets with real-time and historical trailer status information, also on the TracKing platform.
“Depending on the fleet’s needs, Thermo King’s entire telematics portfolio offers a full spectrum of services ranging from full visibility of temperature-sensitive cargo to basic tracking and tracing, or simple location monitoring 24/7 from a desktop, tablet, or smartphone,” Abbott says, noting that the TracKing mobile app is compatible with both Google Android and Apple iOS devices.
“As technology has evolved, so have our offerings and capabilities and we continue to keep our customers’ needs at the center of it all,” Abbott points out. “We understand the importance of maintaining perishable goods at the right temperature and the need for fleets to manage their refrigerated assets throughout their operations. We also offer the unique ability to download the refrigeration unit controller for diagnostics, as well as setting special customer specific cargo profiles on the refrigeration unit, all remotely via TracKing without having to touch the refrigeration unit.
“Real-time remote monitoring not only offers peace of mind, but also gives carriers the ability to react and correct potential issues before load integrity is compromised or a delivery schedule is interrupted,” Abbott adds. “All of these technologies provide traceability and temperature management, enhanced cargo protection and food safety, greater fuel savings, improved fleet efficiency, tighter security, and better data management and utilization.”
Leake, doing business as Food Safety Ink, is a food safety consultant, auditor, and award-winning journalist based in Wilmington, N.C. Reach her at LLLeake@aol.com.