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Clear tractor unit and trailer identification

Horstmar, September  2014 – The traditional use of one tractor unit per trailer has become a thing of the past. Today, most transport companies maintain more trailers than tractor units in their fleet.

Since the introduction of digital tachographs it has become necessary to further optimise transportation with regard to the permitted driving times. As a result, drop-and-swap operations involving changing combinations of tractor units and trailers for a single transport job are becoming more common. Increasing customer requirements regarding trailer pools are also changing the conditions governing tractor unit and trailer usage.

These developments also mean that transparency regarding the respective tractor-trailer combination is no longer ensured. As such, system support has become an urgent necessity. With the tractor unit recognition, Schmitz Cargobull Telematics provides a solution for identifying the tractor unit via the coupled trailer using TrailerConnect.

Customers benefit from the constant online overview of the towing and towed units via the internet portal and also from the clear identification of the units themselves. The system immediately identifies and issues an alarm (by SMS/e-mail) when a trailer is moved by an unauthorised tractor unit. This also provides another advantage due to the clear allocation of damage via telematics through the constant monitoring of the tractor unit and the towed trailer. In addition, this also reduces instances of incorrect usage – such as when the wrong tractor unit tows the wrong trailer. Furthermore, the system also monitors subcontractors to prevent transport jobs from being passed on to unauthorised subcontractors.

The radio-frequency identifiaction (RFID)-based system operates without any manual cable connection between the tractor unit and the trailer to provide maximum reliability whislt also preventing manipulation. By verifying the tractor unit through additional sensor information from the telematics system, the coupled tractor unit is reliably identified despite the system simultaneously receiving multiple radio signals, e.g. from other tractor units nearby.

The tractor unit recognition utilises RFID technology, with an active RFID transmitter (tag) mounted on the rear side of the tractor unit using two screws or magnets. The system has an autonomous energy supply with a calculated battery life of up to seven years. A corresponding RFID receiver is mounted inside the TrailerConnectInterface housing on the trailer's bulkhead. The transmitter and receiver both have a unique identification assigned via the telematics portal.

The sensor interface (TCI) transfers the tractor unit's ID to the telematics control unit via the LIN bus before it is forwarded to the internet portal where it is displayed.