MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The future of connected trucks lies in integration and reducing the number of entry points into a truck, according to industry experts.
Speaking on a morning panel about data and “the internet of trucks” at the Canadian Fleet Maintenance Summit, Ric Bedard of Cetaris said some of his projects involved more than 400 connection and integration points because each technology manufacturer has its own proprietary system.
That disjointed technology leads to problems ranging from a flood of data that is almost unusable, to introducing more access points for potential cybersecurity attacks.
Although sensors on every part of the truck have given fleet managers the ability to have a 360-degree view, inside and out, at all times, Bedard estimates up to 95% of that data is “noise” –either because it doesn’t provide enough information to be useful, or it takes too long to get to an end user to be valid.
Bedard says when an engine sends a fault code, if often doesn’t include information about why a part is failing, how quickly it will need to be fixed, or what will need to be done when the truck gets into a service bay. Add a problem sensor to that, and a fault code becomes just another alert. If that alert also takes 24-48 hours to get to a maintenance manager, it’s useless.
Jaques DeLarochelliere of ISAAC Instruments agreed, saying the key to achieving better data was integrating systems to send the right data at the right time, and eliminating the number of connection points on a truck, eventually aiming for one sim card on a vehicle.
That reduction in connectivity points not only has the potential to reduce the amount of noise being transmitted, but the potential for security risks.
Jason Krajewski of Daimler Trucks North America says, with increased cyber attacks discussed by the media, everyone who connects their devices to the internet understands there is always some associated risks. But he hopes the security is improving.
“The instant you put a wireless connection point on the vehicle, you’re introducing the potential for an attack,” he said, referring to over-the-air engine updates.
With some trucks carrying eight or more connection points, all speaking to different partners, Krajewski said OEMs are starting to recognize the need to incorporate security from the ground up.
Connected trucks are now coming straight from the manufacturer with encryptions and firewalls that may help prevent someone with ill intentions from gain access to a truck, but just trusting the onboard security isn’t enough.
Fleets need to examine their backend structures and know they’re protected on all sides, said the panel. Back office applications that pull data off the truck to analyze it can easily leave a virus behind.
Protecting systems outside the truck could mean security audits and software, but sometimes it’s a task best left to someone else. While storing all your data on the cloud may seem like a risky prospect, Krajewski says companies storing data have the latest security software and patches, and are monitoring activity 24/7 — something that most fleets might find hard to match.
“In terms of cost and scaleability you can’t beat the cloud, but then you’re transferring the onus for the security onto the cloud owners.”
Just like adding other technologies to a fleet, converting to a cloud-based system has to take a thoughtful and integrated approach.
While systems don’t always speak to each other in the smoothest manner right now it will become critical in the next decade as more sensors and more information is added to systems.
“All that stuff’s not really cohesively put together in one format right now. Clearly the integration problem needs to be solved in order to provide the maximum benefit,” he said.