Latest developments in heavy vehicle telematics

Not all telematics systems are created equal.

Exponential growth in GPS-enabled devices, from phones to watches that have rendered the humble street directory close to extinction, presents an exciting time in the telematics1 industry. As these devices become commonplace, the technology is more interactive, intelligent and event-driven, making them an essential part of life.

Telematics and other intelligent technologies are playing an ever increasing role in supporting fleet, transport and logistics operations, making it critical that businesses have assurance that their device is fit for purpose.

Transport Certification Australia (TCA), a national government body responsible for providing assurance in the use of telematics and related intelligent technologies, has urged the transport and logistics industries to be aware when purchasing telematics systems that they are fit for their intended purpose.

With the widespread use of GPS-enabled telematics across a spectrum of applications, there is a natural inclination to accept that all devices work as intended. However, in TCA’s experience that is categorically not the case.

TCA chief executive officer Chris Koniditsiotis said, “TCA challenges industry and any user to ask the question: is my telematics system providing the intended (and expected) levels of reliability, robustness and integrity? Don’t wait for a fault, by then it could be too late.”

The implications of not being able to confidently rely on information derived from a telematics system can be far reaching. Any business or contract-related decision can have serious consequences when the accuracy and quality of data is open to question.

TCA’s experience as a certifier, auditor and administrator of national programs has uncovered major discrepancies in the accuracy, reporting frequency, reliability, performance and security of telematics systems and associated services.

TELEMATICS FRAMEWORK {{image2-A:R-w:220}}TCA administers a National Telematics Framework on behalf of Australian governments, which provides a nationally agreed, sustainable environment to support the current and emerging needs of government, industry sectors and end users.

A core concept of the framework is that a single telematics “box” or in-vehicle unit (IVU) should support multiple applications to meet the needs of regulators, industry and end users. By adopting the single box approach, the incremental costs and dashboard real estate associated with deployment of additional applications is significantly less than multiple boxes.

In response to the need for an informed marketplace, TCA released the Telematics In-Vehicle Unit Functional and Technical Specification in November 2013.

The purpose of this specification is threefold:

  1. Anyone looking to purchase IVUs can use the document when making comparisons between different types.
  2. It can also be used to ask IVU providers whether their IVU meets the specification.
  3. TCA is now progressing type approvals against the specification with a view to having TCA type-approved IVUs in the marketplace.

“Purchasing a type-approved IVU will give the consumer peace of mind that when they open the box their new IVU will have the capacity to accommodate the technical and functional prerequisites in the Telematics IVU Functional and Technical Specification,” Koniditsiotis said.

The Intelligent Access Program (IAP) is a nationally agreed regulatory and technical framework that uses GPS-based technology to manage heavy vehicle access and compliance.

The IAP allows transport operators to obtain access – or negotiate improved access – on the road network.

Since it first became available in 2009, the IAP has been widely adopted by transport operators in Australia, with nearly 700 collectively benefiting from the growing range of access entitlements.

The IAP was expanded in August 2013 to incorporate the use of on-board mass (OBM) systems.

“The use of OBM systems linked to the IAP is centrally administered by TCA and provides better assurance to policymakers, road managers, regulators and the transport industry in heavy vehicle access,” Koniditsiotis said. “For the quarry industry, the use of IAP and OBM provides an opportunity for transport operators to negotiate improved access conditions to meet their needs.”

A service endorsed as a Certified Telematics Service (CTS) by TCA provides a way to obtain strong assurances in the use of GPS-based systems and services. CTS forms part of the National Telematics Framework and leverages TCA’s certification and audit program, established for governments.

In October 2013, TCA was presented with the ITS Asia-Pacific Industry Award at the 20th ITS World Congress in Tokyo, Japan.

This is the first international award TCA has received, demonstrating how the international ITS community is recognising Australia’s National Telematics Framework. TCA’s work in deploying practical applications through the framework is widely regarded as world-best practice to support the use of telematics and intelligent technologies.

The ITS Asia-Pacific Industry Award highlights how TCA has enabled major productivity, safety and environmental outcomes to be achieved without being predicated on major investment programs. 

Chris Koniditsiotis and Gavin Hill of TCA will present on the latest developments in the use of heavy vehicle telematics at CMIC14 in Brisbane on 4 September, 2014.

1. Telematics broadly refers to the interconnected use of systems, combining global navigation satellite systems, telecommunications and information and communication technologies.

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