SPAR of Austria is one of the leading manufacturers in the European logistics industry. In recent years, SPAR started to establish a new generation of in-vehicle management systems with three main features: stability, wireless communication, and ease of use. Advantech-DLoG with its professional expertise in this field helped build the required high quality in-vehicle management systems for SPAR.In the past, logistics companies had little control over vehicles in the field due to the lack of communication equipment, but as technology has developed we now have IoT, Cloud Computing, and Big Data to assist us.Fleet management systems have also undergone huge changes in both depth of technology and breath of application, allowing companies like Austrian SPAR to introduce state of the art in-vehicle management and logistics systems.
Industrial Grade Design with Stability and Flexibility
SPAR is a world-renown logistics enterprise focused mainly on Europe. It owns several meat processing factories in Europe which deliver products throughout the European Union using its own freight dispatching fleet. SPAR logistics vehicles have had IT devices installed for a long time. Initially, they used an in-car driving recorder similar to a flight recorder which was required in Europe by statute and these provided basic information for estimating a vehicle’s state if accidents occur.
The hardware for the driving recorder adopted by SPAR used a consumer brand product integrated with Android software. However, the consumer product wasn’t able to take into account the entire vehicle’s usage. Conditions such as wide temperature between summer and winter meant the lack of air conditioning put the cargo at risk of damage. Considering the fact that equipment stability and reliability was a priority for SPAR, and that breakdown shappen frequently, SPAR had to again consider replacing the equipment with another in-vehicle system.
The main function of this replacement system was recording in-vehicle operations. Compared with the former setup,the new system performed better but still lacked networking features. Consequently, all of the inputs for dispatching tasks and software updates needed to be uploaded and downloaded first through the company’s computers, then manually back to the devices in the vehicles. This process was not ideal and caused scheduling problems.
Eventually, SPAR approached Styletronic, an Austrian system integrator, and asked them for a third system; a new in-vehicle management and logistics system that was 100% reliable and stable, had wireless communication, and had user friendly interfaces. SPAR’s new in-vehicle management system was a customized solution which was co-developed by Styletronicand Advantech-DLoG. Styletronic took charge of the Windows interface software and system integration, while Advantech-DLoG provided the industrial grade in-vehicle devices plus hardware in interface integration.
Advantech-DLoG studied SPAR’s fleet characteristics and demands before starting the design. Due to the size of Europe, and the large amounts of cargo in transit, trailers towed by trucks caused huge vibration problems for moving vehicles. Advantech-DLoG adopted its PWS-770 products to solve the problem and meet SPAR’s demand for wireless transmitters and vehicle location trackers. Along with docking stations designed by its partner, RAM Mount, Advantech-DLoG built a solution that suited SPAR’s 10-inch tablet computer for its in-vehicle system.
The new in-vehicle systems provided high stability. The vibration-proof features were particularly enhanced and designed for heavy vehicle usage authenticated to military grade MIL-STD-810G specification. This saved the devices from breakdowns caused by persistent jolting of the vehicles.
For wireless communication, there was GPS, 3G, Wi-Fi, and GPS that served to locate the vehicles and the received location data could then be transmitted to the back end operation control center via 3G. If there were any dispatching problems or accidents, the control center would have instant communication with the driver. The update of assigned tasks and operations before vehicles were dispatched was transmitted automatically through Wi-Fi. In order to meet SPAR’s demands for an easy-touse interface, Advantech-DLoG started with designs for common functions using a touchscreen monitor which could be operated instinctively and shortened the drivers’ learning curve.
Seamless System Fully Controls Driving Behaviors
All vans and trucks in Europe are regulated by strict laws. For example, components like engines and brakes need to be installed with in-car sensors before the vehicles leave the factory. The data received by these sensors has to be transmitted and fully recorded by the in-vehicle system. If an accident happens, the company and the police can retrieve the data to clarify the situation and resolve any issues.
Advantech-DLoG finished the installation of all 165 in-vehicle management and logistics systems for all of SPAR’s ten-ton trucks early in2014. These have been successfully operating for over a year and they not only operate well, but their stable and adaptable system also improves SPAR’s operating efficiency, as well as reducing fuel cost by 15%. Next, SPAR’s fleets at their two factories in Hungary and Italy will also gradually introduce the same in-vehicle management solution established by Advantech-DLoG and Styletronic to help give SPAR a competitive advantage.
The new system needed to connect with the sensing network of the original devices so SPAR’s new version in-vehicle system was retro fitted to all existing vehicles, and the linking and integration of the new and the original components was carefully implemented. Currently, the mainstream communication standard on the vehicles is CAN Bus. Advantech-DLoG PWS-770 also has such ports which can rapidly connect to the in-vehicle sensing system and show the recorded information on the in-vehicle display. The data not only allows the control center and the drivers to fully control and supervise the vehiclesbut also produces big data which can analyze driving behaviors, thereby fulfilling the function of driving behavior management, which in turn decreases the chances of risks and accidents.