Intelligent Fleet/Logistics Management Based on Azure Cloud Services
Advancements in IoT and cloud technologies have revolutionized the management of vehicles, people, and goods on the road in fleet and logistics industries. Our super-rugged in-vehicle computers, which are integrated with Microsoft Azure Cloud Services, provide a well-rounded platform that helps logistics and transportation companies obtain real-time information on a range of operations, including inbound and outbound asset management, vehicle status monitoring, human resource management, and communication with personnel on the road, all of which improve overall operational efficiency.
With the integration of Advantech and Microsoft IoT technologies, this solution allows companies to manage their operations from a centralized management room or by using a mobile device such as smartphone or tablet PC. Drivers can also keep an eye on their vehicle status via an in-vehicle dashboard, which can also help them better coordinate with headquarters. Such intelligent fleet management technology solutions can be applied not only to small passenger car sharing systems but also to road freight/logistics and bus fleet management.
As an example of a successful case, an electric car company responsible for developing a green eCar sharing system for Taoyuan City in Northern Taiwan has adopted the Advantech–Microsoft IoT solution as a platform for car users (e.g., identity registration, car booking/returns) and management centers (customer verification, driving behavior records, vehicle tracking/status monitoring) including tire pressure, battery charge/discharge rates, engine temperature, and so on. The provision of a car-sharing app for both smartphones and computers allows users to conveniently check for available cars and their location.
Another example is a Chinese logistics company based in Shanghai. This company recently deployed an intelligent management system to connect all of their distribution centers, vehicles, goods, and human resources to a real-time monitoring control network, achieving a marked improvement in operational efficiency. When the items are to be discharged from the warehouse, personnel scan a barcode to confirm that the correct products are being shipped, thus making it possible for the management center to control and track the items throughout the entire transportation process.
In-vehicle IoT applications require sensors deployed at or around elements that need to be monitored, such as the engine, batteries, and wheels. This allows data to be collected for the management center to monitor the status of vehicles in the field. GPS devices are particularly critical for the system to locate and track vehicles. For carton packaging, high-precision instruments and shock/vibrations sensors are essential, and goods such as pharmaceuticals, bottled beverages, flowers, foods, and other temperature-sensitive items require cold chain transport in order to closely monitor the temperature. Related data are collected and transmitted to an in-vehicle computer, which converts the data into the appropriate format for wireless transmission to a back-end system at the control center.
Advantech and Microsoft, with their rich experience and expertise in their respective competitive advantages in hardware and software, have joined efforts in providing a tightly integrated hardware and software platform for intelligent logistics/fleet management.
Advantech’s in-vehicle computers provide an IoT gateway that can be easily deployed with Advantech’s WISE-PaaS Edge Intelligence platforms and portals. This also gives users an option to utilize Microsoft Azure IoT Hub and other Azure cloud services such as Stream Analytics and Power BI, which can be selected and organized into IoT solutions suited to user needs. Azure IoT Hub supports all types of edge devices and assigns a unique IP address to individual devices, thus ensuring data traceability and security without the need to rely on physical data centers.
Microsoft’s Azure Stream Analytics is another cloud service that can help companies by streamlining their dataflow at the network edge. After evaluating the data, Stream Analytics forwards only those data packets for storage in a cloud database, real-time visualization on dashboards, or utilization by a reporting management system. Finally, Power BI can be utilized to develop customized dashboards or apps for control room displays or mobile devices, thus providing a user-friendly platform that allows users to visualize data with ease. Microsoft Azure IoT and cloud service solutions can be easily purchased via Advantech’s online store, the WISE-PaaS Marketplace, and be preinstalled in WISE-PaaS IoT platforms.