Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vehicle Telematics - A New Technology For Freight Trucks

Bank and Finance House Cloud Computing Systems used on New Generation Vehicles
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – As the new technical and technological innovations in transport unfold, be they in ocean freight, air cargo or road borne truck deliveries, so we all have to learn the new jargon to keep pace with developments as they happen. Cloud computing is a concept which, in simple terms, allows the storage of myriad pieces of data from which selected bits can be extracted as required. Now the complex system of cloud based message queue technology, developed for use in banks and finance houses by Gateshead UK based StormMQ has been picked up by electric vehicle leaders Smiths for use in their in house telemetry system.

Telematics is a new science and has so far has limited use for freight carrying vehicles, the most well known being tracking devices to assess truck position and performance and to dissuade thieves. Electric vehicles however have much more sophisticated vehicle management systems and fleet managers can use telematics to monitor additional elements like battery charge. Telemetry can also monitor battery performance down to individual cells, ensuring any potential issues are quickly identified and fixed.

When Smith Electric Vehicles, the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial electric vehicles (EV’s), began designing its Smith Telemetry system, it realised the huge volume of data signals generated by each vehicle would require either massive investment in servers, or third party support. StormMQ’s cloud-based message queue technology allows Smith Electric Vehicles to collect 27,500 messages a second from clients’ EV’s these can then be delivered on a managed basis to the Smith server.

StormMQ’s innovative machine-to-machine message queuing was designed for banks and finance houses, as a secure and cost-effective method of collating and conveying highly confidential data and the company was awarded the contract by Smiths based on affordability, scalability and ease of implementation.

Smith will utilise the technology in its own inbuilt Smith Telemetry system in both the UK and US and Robin Mackie, Chief Technical Officer of Smith Electric Vehicles US Corporation commented:

“The sheer volume of messages was a significant issue for us, along with the requirement to rapidly scale up, as we roll out more vehicles to customers around the world. To develop and run our own multi-server messaging queue in-house would have been extremely expensive - and we would still need to expand it in subsequent years, as our business is growing very quickly.

“We estimate that StormMQ has cost us around a tenth of any comparable system we looked at and delivers us a fixed monthly cost per vehicle which decreases as our fleet grows. As a pioneer in our respective field, it’s rare that you see another service that is so revolutionary yet simple; that can help us deliver a major benefit to our clients; and that would have been almost impossible to achieve any other way.”

Smith US expects to install more than 500 ‘Smith Newton’ electric trucks with Smith Telemetry by 2011, as part of a $32 million grant from the US Department of Energy (DoE). In the UK, Smith Electric is fitting the first 50 systems to ‘Smith Edison’ all-electric vans, delivered through the Government’s Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme.

Smith Telemetry collates and interprets more than 1,800 data sets from each EV’s drive line, controller and battery management system, along with a GPS tracker. For the first time, a fleet manager can know precisely how much battery power is left in each of their vehicles, at the push of a button. This allows fleets to maximise the use of their EVs and makes the vehicles more accommodating for unscheduled, additional trips.

Photo: A Transit based Smiths Edison van supplied to Gateshead Council fitted out with the new technology