Constraints in the supply chain shocked every industry in 2020 and 2021. As a result, Not only did the prices of logistic services skyrocket, but the need for last-mile connectivity and deliveries also increased.
A report by Allied Market Research has pegged the logistics business to touch figures of $12,975.64 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 6.5% from 2020 to 2027, and electric vehicles will be a big part of this business.
Germany-headquartered technology company Continental, keeping in mind the existing and future demand for electric trucks in the logistics sector, virtually showcased a number of solutions targeted towards making operations easy in the industry. During the presentation, Dr Ismail Dagli, Head of Smart Mobility at Continental, noted that, unlike the passenger car market, the commercial vehicle sector is still on the starting line for the transition to zero-emission mobility.
'We can clearly see that the market is picking up speed, despite the significant challenges posed by the range and the charging infrastructure. In the future, sustainable drives will also become more critical in the light of ambitious climate change mitigation targets and the continuous increase in freight traffic. This makes it all the more necessary for us to support manufacturers with our extensive portfolio for commercial electric vehicles,' he explained.
Start By Solving Range Anxiety
Pantograph, being developed by Siemens and Continental teams, was the first of the solutions showcased during the virtual session. The prime aim of the solution is to address the range anxiety in the minds of fleet owners and commercial vehicle drivers when it comes to driving electric vehicles. It would also do away with the need to equip electric trucks with bigger batteries.
Alex Rupprecht, responsible for developing the pantograph at Continental, said, “This could be an optimal solution for the future, especially for heavy-duty traffic – it avoids long waiting times at charging stations and the battery can be made much smaller.'
A little far-fetched for developing countries, the solution requires taking power from overhead lines to charge the e-battery while driving. Trains using electric lines in India are the best example of what a pantograph would look like for electric trucks.
Utilising Maximum Space Available
The next in line is a solution that can help fleet managers and loaders ascertain if they have been able to utilise all the loading space available in a truck or a trailer. The primary aim of the solution is to help increase the number of trips with full capacity utilisation.
Dubbed Artificial Intelligence Load Booster, the solution uses AI and Cloud computations to tell a person if more items (pellets) can be loaded onto the truck.
Dr Dagli noted, 'The logistics industry is currently facing major challenges. More and more freight has to be transported with fewer and fewer drivers.'
Drivers, ramp agents and fleet managers can use the solution by clicking a photo of the cargo area in the truck. The photo is then uploaded to the Continental Cloud, where all the calculation takes place. The fleet manager can then optimally coordinate additional loads using the data on the available loading weight.
“Our solution not only supports fleet managers in optimally utilising their transport capacities to make their fleets more efficient, it also saves fuel and reduces carbon emissions, actively contributing to greater sustainability in logistics,' explained Dr Dagli.
Attaining Compliance In Logistics
The technology company also presented a new logistics compliance solution called the VDO Link. It is meant to close the gap between digital tachographs and online platforms for fleet management.
Marcello Lucarelli, Head, Connected Commercial Vehicle Solutions, Continental, explained, 'In particular, smaller fleets haven’t been able to make the most of their tachograph data because their vehicles often didn’t have the necessary telematics infrastructure. VDO Link is an easy-to-use solution that closes this gap.”
Data from the tachograph will give businesses the opportunity to automate processes. After plug-and-play installation and successful registration on the VDO Fleet Website, VDO Link sends the collected vehicle and driver data in real-time to Continental’s Secure Cloud Backend using a secure mobile connection.
Coming To India?
While the solutions showcased by the Continental team seem far-fetched for India in the near future, they certainly will find a fit here some day or the other. India has one of the biggest needs for logistics and has many trucks running on its roads.
The country, as a matter of fact, has the second largest network of roads in the world. Therefore, Continental's pantograph and AI-enabled space information provider might attract much interest. However, the Government of India will need to work on infrastructure to enable pantograph technology to be present here.
Continental will introduce the VDO Link concept and all these solutions at IAA Transportation 2022, which takes place in Hannover from September 20 to 25.