We’ve seen those movies where the soft-spoken hero looks at the sky, flares a nostril or two, and says, “Gonna rain.” He knows because he knows the land, knows the weather cycle. He smells the rain coming.
So, it’s not really a big jump from anticipating the weather to anticipating when your truck needs repair. If you’ve been driving rigs, you get to know them. You eyeball the tires, you whack them with a tire iron, and you’re in the ballpark of this one needing some air and that one’s tread worn down enough—measure by looking and how much less your dime measures in the groove—to need replacing.
The engine is trickier, though you sense when it’s humming and when it’s chugging. Pulling left or right: torque steer, maybe the struts? And yes, if you have a sixth sense for when you need more wiper fluid, well, you win the most tuned into the vehicle award.
Now comes technology to either save the day or mess with your intuition. The Internet of Things manages your home in a computerized way. Air conditioning, what’s in the fridge, turning the lights on and off: all controlled by apps.
Want to open your curtains and not have to get off the couch and walk that huge distance of twelve feet to pull a cord, which will take twenty seconds of your life that you’ll never get back? Tap a button on your phone and behold the curtains part.
If Moses had Nest on his iPhone, he could have kept the Red Sea open without having to stress his triceps and deltoids so much.
And so it is: the Internet of Things has rolled into our vehicles. The idea is nothing new; we’ve had the Low Fuel and Someone’s Seatbelt Isn’t Fastened blinking lights for decades. What’s different is the campaign for fully-integrated computerized monitoring.
Wally Stegall, Technical Fellow and Director of Business Development at Morey, has a great opinion piece in Transport Topics, approaching this new, developing technology from the perspective of fuel monitoring. He writes that “nearly 40% of operating costs are derived from fuel alone.”
Stegall describes a comprehensively connected rig:
“This includes uncovering how every ounce of a fleet’s fuel is being consumed. Sensors located in wheels, wheel ends, brakes, air lines, electrical systems and other locations can provide detailed feedback on axles, wheels, electric motors, loading and more.”
It’s all promising…in a perfect world. Not yet tackled are failsafe measures if and when the computer glitches and privacy issues (what of the carrier who doesn’t want his/her vitals monitored while on or off the road?).
Regardless of whether we predict the storm or get caught without our umbrellas, it’s still gonna rain.