Delivering goods on-time and in an efficient manner is integral to the success of any company in the transportation industry. Regardless of the type of goods shipped, delivery fleets are held to a high standard of timeliness and proficiency. To consistently adhere to such standards, transportation companies must have a solid and streamlined communications system in place for their fleets. Drivers need to seamlessly communicate with operators without having to worry about pulling over to use a device, typing text into a phone or activating an emergency system—all tasks that can negatively affect productivity and delivery time.
Solution provider Wireless Communications and Electronics (Wireless CE), based in Baltimore, MD, is bringing in a truckload of voice and data technology, including IoT solutions, as it rolls out the next generation of fleet management for its customers. The company is using the Motorola Solutions Team Communications platform for its transportation customers, tapping into wireless technology for person-to-person, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications, all of which are critical for accurate tracking of fleet assets.
Unified Communications Between Devices, Networks
According to Wireless CE, fleet operations can function efficiently when managers have the ability to communicate instantly through the use of Motorola push-to-talk (PTT) that works between smartphones, radios, computers, landlines or any other devices. PTT communications are augmented with a rich data application ecosystem that adds context and intelligence. PTT gadgets can be matched according to specialist preference, guaranteeing satisfaction across each fleet.
Wireless CE typically sets up its transportation customers to use radios or the Motorola WAVE™ PTT application, allowing for instant connectivity. They also utilize the MOTOTRBO™ or ASTRO® radio system, which keeps fleets connected over a wider area without outside interference. These applications and systems help companies better manage their workforce.
The solution uses IoT as an aid in automated vehicle tracking, helping companies to stay in touch with their drivers. It also monitors vehicle functions, helping to cut costs and improve all aspects of transportation operations.
Infographic: Wireless CE
Advantages of PTT and IoT
Wireless CE cites these advantages of PTT and IoT for delivery fleets:
- Quickly tackle challenges. PTT communication allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road while discussing any challenges they may face—reducing risk and eliminating the need to pull over to use a device.
- Respond instantly to safety issues. Drivers can use PTT to instantly contact dispatch, if safety issues arise. Fleet managers are also able to track vehicles with automated location sensors, allowing them to send help or avoid any unnecessary delays.
- Collaborate on schedules. Better communication and the instant availability of vehicle data helps drivers and fleet managers focus on keeping customers happy with timely deliveries.
- Use data intelligence to drive efficiency. With information gathered automatically from the platform, companies can better understand how to improve fleet functionality—monitor fuel consumption, ignition status and on-board diagnostics—guaranteeing their fleet maintenance is up-to-date.
- Smart data filtering. Through individual to person, individual to-machine and machine-to-machine communication, information can be gathered and filtered to those who need it most. The instant responsiveness allows managers to speak with customer service, dispatch, truck drivers and warehouse workers at the same time, leading to improved performance and an increase in productivity.
With data applications and automated IoT tools that assist in operations-related tasks, teams can manage work order tickets, track orders, help managers confirm deliveries and keep better tabs on workflows.
Get Your Transportation Knowledge in Gear
Airports are leveraging IoT technologies to improve customer experience, sending the important—and high value—message that passengers matter, and their happiness is important.
As the third busiest airport in the world by aircraft movements and the ninth busiest by passenger traffic, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport takes every passengers’ airport experience seriously.
Managing the flow of the nearly 174,000 passengers each day is no easy task, and the competition among airports for customers has grown fierce. The customer is king, and a positive travel experience is key to retaining customers. To improve customer experiences, DFW’s leadership set its sights on building the “airport of the future.”
The DFW Challenge
DFW leadership established the DFW challenge, which focused on improving five key areas:
- Reducing passenger stress at security checkpoints
- Better managing wait times in queues throughout the airport
- Optimizing resource utilization and agent productivity
- Improving restroom cleanliness and resulting passenger satisfaction
- Making the passenger journey as pleasing as possible
Intel partner Lavi Industries responded to DFW’s challenge with smart solutions across the passenger journey, and was tapped by the airport to implement their improvement plan. With the help of IoT technology, Lavi and DFW achieved the airport’s goals, and then some.
How’d they do it? Better solutions at security checkpoints, customs and border patrol, superior airport-wide solutions and improved facility maintenance.
Improvement Goals: Avoid surprises in the queue while keeping passenger expectations in check
Solutions: Qtrac iQ and Digital Signage
Security lines are one of the least enjoyable parts of air travel. And being stuck in a slow line with no sense of how long it will take to get through only makes it worse. Lavi jumped in and got to work addressing the problems in one of DFW’s particularly troublesome terminals.
The company added Qtrac iQ to assess wait times, enabling them to publish accurate estimates that are displayed via digital signage at the head and throughout the security queue, giving passengers a much better sense of what lay ahead.
Source: Lavi Industries
In addition, staff also monitors queue activity through dashboards and receives text alerts when wait times exceed acceptable limits. By doing this, the airport staff is able to address issues before they become unmanageable.
The published wait times coupled with these proactive behaviors have helped ease passenger stress. And these more relaxed customers are spending more. Knowing how long the security line will take has given customers the confidence that they have time to grab an item or two before getting in line, which has increased concession sales just outside the checkpoint.
Customs and Border Patrol
Improvement Goals: Monitor queues and improve agent productivity
Solutions: Qtrac iQ and QtracCF
Global travelers are much too familiar with the notoriously long wait at Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) when making their way through an international airport terminal. With wait times often exceeding 2 hours at DFW, the airport was seeing a measurable negative impact on their passengers’ satisfaction as a result.
The management team’s goal was to bring wait times down to 45 minutes or less. To achieve this goal Lavi again turned to Qtrac iQ to monitor and report on wait times using an easy-to-install sensor-based solution. Real-time alerts and historical data collected from the queue through Qtrac iQ gives airport managers the ability to better manage staffing to keep wait times in check. The airport also utilizes QtracCF, Lavi’s call-forwarding solution, to optimize agent productivity and improve customer hailing.
Since implementing Lavi’s solutions, DFW’s CBP wait times have gone from more than 2 hours to under 30 minutes on average.
Improvement Goals: Manage queues and project a clean and modern look
Solutions: Panel signage
Lavi helped the airport broaden its advertising approach by leveraging the use of a sleek, rigid rail panel for signage for wayfinding and advertising. These changes give the airport a more modern, appealing queue design, and additional revenue from concessioners for advertising in the queue.
Improvement Goals: Maintain restroom cleanliness and optimize resource utilization
Solutions: Qtrac iM
Another important component to ensuring customers are happy is providing clean and convenient restroom facilities. In researching the qualities of a great passenger experience, DFW found that restroom cleanliness played an important role in overall satisfaction with the airport. Implementing Lavi’s Qtrac iM system allowed the airport management to easily capture passenger feedback, and better understand what’s going on in the restrooms when it comes to usage and cleaning. The Qtrac iM system is also integrated with the airport’s maintenance management software.
After Lavi’s successful initial test run of two restrooms, the airport is rolling out Qtrac iM to another 20 bathrooms.
Smart Solutions Equal Myriad Benefits
As a result of implementing Lavi’s IoT-connected solutions across its airport, DFW is flying into new zones of customer satisfaction. The airport is realizing multiple benefits, including greater insight into queue conditions, increased agent productivity, decreased perceived wait times, greater resource optimization, a cleaner more modern look, enhanced integrity of the queue structure and an overall improvement in passenger experience.
Boarding Now: IOT at an Airport Near You
Photo: Melanie McMullen
Manufacturers and solution providers in the transportation industry continually try to improve the sharable transit model, which is good for the rider as well as the environment. Connected IoT technology and apps that facilitate easy commuting are becoming commonplace not only for car-sharing services, but for another popular choice in urban transit—the smart bicycle.
A new bike-sharing startup, LimeBike in San Mateo, CA, is partnering with smart cities to solve one of the transportation challenges faced in many dense urban areas: affordable options for the last mile. The goal of LimeBike is to give commuters and college students an easy, affordable way to get to work or class, or to the bus, ferry or train station without dealing with the hassle of parking.
While the majority of bike sharing networks have fixed docking stations or smart bike racks with digital kiosks spread throughout a city, LimeBike has taken a different approach. The system doesn’t rely on centralized transit hubs. Instead, each city will have many parking spots scattered throughout. Using the LimeBike app, commuters can locate where to pick up a bike and where they can leave it closest to their destination.
The company chose this method for cost and convenience reasons, noting that fixed docking stations cost cities and universities millions of dollars. LimeBike estimates that traditional bike sharing systems charge cities and taxpayers up to $5,000 per bike (with station and maintenance) to maintain the network. This results in cities having bike share stations that are too few and far between to be convenient for riders. LimeBike also notes that when cities can’t afford to fund many sharing stations, they end up with a limited number of bikes, resulting in a higher rental cost for users.
Affordable Bike Sharing
LimeBike hopes that by using a dock-free sharing network and by partnering with local governments and stakeholders, it can create a broadly distributed system, with bikes that are more accessible and affordable for all.
LimeBike charges $1 per ride, or $29.95 per month for LimePrime, which includes 100 rides. LimeBike claims that the low cost of individual rides could boost the number of rides people take, ultimately increasing revenue.
In a recent article in Forbes, LimeBike investor Jeff Jordan, a partner at Andreessen-Horowitz, said this about the LimeBike model: "If all of a sudden you take the friction out of the bike experience and make the bikes more convenient, better located and cheaper, I think it could really take off."
Launching officially as a company in January 2017, LimeBike is already taking off. It has started to roll out its service in a subset of U.S. locations, mostly cities and towns with large college or corporate campuses. Fleets are now available in many areas, including Seattle, Dallas, Greensboro, NC, South Bend, IN, Washington, D.C. and Key Biscayne, FL. It recently launched its bike sharing program in select California cities, including Alameda, CA, a San Francisco Bay Area suburb. It also has wheels on the ground at several universities, including University of Notre Dame and North Carolina State University.
Photo: LimeBike at Alameda, CA ferry landing/Melanie McMullen
LimeBike is one of many new entrants in the bike sharing game, which includes companies such as Bluegogo, Social Bicycles, Spin, Zagster and one of the industry leaders, Motivate Co. The global bike share industry could be worth upwards of $6 billion by 2020, according to a report by Roland Berger Consultancy. Currently, just 1 percent of trips taken in the United States are done by bike, so the market is poised for growth.
One of the biggest challenges for LimeBike will be theft prevention, especially since the bikes are not stored at secure docks. The theft-prevention tools onboard include GPS (for easy tracking if the bike gets stolen), parts that aren't easily compatible with other bikes, and a lock on the rear wheel.
In addition to GPS, the LimeBike fleet has 3G connectivity. They sport foam-core tires that aren’t at risk of deflating. They include a large metal basket for carrying cargo, an on-board solar panel that powers lights and a smart lock. Riders can use the LimeBike mobile app to locate the nearest bike, use a QR code to unlock the bike, then lock it up again, freestanding, at their destination. The bikes have a center kickstand, so they can’t be chained to street signs or racks.
The payment system doesn’t require a pay station, as it is integrated into the app. Users scan, ride and pay without leaving the app. For components, LimeBike worked with outside manufactures and vendors, then designed the bikes on their own. It has no plans to sell the GPS-tracked bikes as a consumer product.
Mining for Transit Data
Brad Bao, LimeBike chairman, said the company will be gathering extensive data on the use of LimeBike to demonstrate its advantages to future smart cities, including the impact on traffic, parking and even fitness in their communities.
LimeBike isn’t alone in seeking transit data via the biking commuter. Ford Motor Company recently launched its Ford GoBike bike sharing program in cities around the country. The GoBike system became operational in June in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Berkeley. The connected bikes provide an opportunity for Ford to gather transit data.
According to Jim Hackett, Ford’s former chairman of Smart Mobility, who is now the company’s CEO. “The opportunity is data. And the data is super valuable because it tells us these invisible paths that people are taking in complex cities, in terms of how they want to get around.”
Get on Board with Smart Transportation
The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has been a rough one so far—and it still doesn’t end until November 30. As of September 18 there have been four named systems, two of which, Harvey and Irma, made landfall in the United States as Category 4 hurricanes, leaving extensive destruction in their wake. In a two-week span these two systems have caused tens of billions of dollars of property damage, leaving insurers scrambling to find enough inspectors in Texas and Florida to help their customers begin the claims process.
In total, catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimates that the combined high end of estimated losses from both Hurricanes Irma and Harvey will be in the neighborhood of $100 billion. Sadly, an inspector shortage may spell longer wait times if insurers stick to traditional inspection methods. Fortunately, many insurance providers are leveraging drones to speed up the claims process.
Drone Inspections Winning the Day
The commercial use of drone technology by the insurance industry is ticking upwards. According to PwC, drones could replace over $127 billion worth of human labor and services, with the insurance industry accounting for $6.8 billion of that total.
In today’s data-driven world the high quality information drones can supply—through video imaging, air quality and more—provide insurers’ underwriters and claims adjusters with valuable insights and efficiencies previously out of reach.
Insurance companies have a lot to gain by bringing a drone system in-house. Let’s take a look at the biggest ways that drones improve the adjusting process:
Less Time and Less Money: While large insurers frequently use their own adjusters, small and midsize competitors often hire help from other inspectors who can charge $1,000 to $2,000 per claim for working on areas hit by major storms. No matter their size, when insurers have drones doing the work, it helps remove the need to pay out for additional support. And with new drone technologies—like the Kespry Automated Drone System and Kespry Cloud—there’s also no longer a need to purchase third-party reports to gain access to analytics on the information gathered. Many commercial drones are capable of instantly uploading data to the cloud online, and reports can be generated in hours instead of days.
Improved Productivity and Employee Safety: With drones doing the inspecting, claims adjusters can perform a greater number of inspections per day. Having drones capture information from multiple vantage points means fewer adjusters are physically out in the field, up on roofs or exposed to electrical hazards or other dangerous elements that can result in injury. This not only has a positive impact on adjusters’ productivity, it also reduces workers’ compensation costs and lost time.
More Data and Superior Accuracy: Because drone technology allows for high-resolution imagery from multiple angles, adjusters have a more complete picture of the initial condition of the asset in question and what degree of damage has occurred, which improves the accuracy (and speed) of claim resolution.
Improved Claim Processing Time Leads to Higher Customer Satisfaction: Since drones enable adjusters to process more claims in less time, customers aren’t left waiting as long—which helps a lot, particularly after a natural disaster. Faster claim resolution and more accurate results help adjusters deliver a better customer experience—essential to both maintaining a strong company brand and retaining existing customers.
Fraud Reduction: Fraud accounts for approximately 10% of the property and casualty insurance losses and loss adjustment expenses each year. This is equal to about $34 billion per year in property and casualty fraud. Dishonest customers may take advantage of a random event to claim damages that actually existed beforehand, such as filing a false claim that blames preexisting damage to a roof on a recent storm. With the help of drones that capture clear and accurate images of insured property at regular intervals, insurance providers can better avoid paying out on fraudulent claims.
Looking Toward the Future
Considering all the benefits they provide, it’s not surprising that drone technology is transforming the way the insurance industry runs. It is estimated that by 2020, insurance will be one of the top five markets served by commercial drones.