Part One: Introduction

Digital Twin Technology

Digital Twin Technology is revolutionizing the trucking industry by dramatically reducing fleet owners’ operating costs. And that is only the ​beginning.  

Once used almost exclusively in advanced scientific and engineering applications like high-tech manufacturing, aeronautics and space exploration, Digital Twin Technology is now poised to revolutionize a range of other industries, including transport. And it comes at a time when new thinking—and new solutions—will be critical to success in transportation.

The transportation industry is in transition. Competitive pressures, increasing consumer and business reliance on just-in-time delivery, fuel price instability, rising maintenance costs, the adoption of electric and autonomous vehicles, and other factors have made the challenges facing fleet managers arguably more daunting than ever.

 

One at least partial solution, which has generated significant buzz in the automotive industry, is the idea of “connected” vehicles—Internet-equipped automobiles outfitted with an array of sensors, and capable of communicating with other vehicles and with external data infrastructures. The promise for the trucking industry is that enhanced connectivity will enable more effective fleet oversight, helping to reduce repair and fuel expenses, driver error and downtime, which currently costs the industry many billions of dollars every year.

 

Yet the reality is that most trucks in operation today already generate large amounts of data from hundreds of on-board sensors and electronic control units. Meanwhile, connectivity can be achieved through telematics, which are currently equipped on more than 50% of large and medium-sized truck fleets in the U.S. The big problem for fleet managers is not so much a shortage of information, but rather how they can filter it, render it relevant to fleet operations and gain insight from it—in short, what they can do with it to create efficiencies and lower their operating costs.

 

So, as we contemplate a future of “connected” trucks generating even more data, the important question is this: Connected to what? In our view, the answer lies in a technology that has been around for some time but has only recently come into its own: Digital Twins.

 

In brief, a Digital Twin is a virtual reproduction of a physical asset that transmits and receives data from its real-world counterpart in real time. And it can empower fleet managers to do more than monitor a vehicle remotely.

 

When combined with the rapidly advancing tools of the AI age, a Digital Twin can help fleet operators predict issues affecting vehicle health, driver performance, fuel efficiency and other factors well before they occur. In other words, Digital Twins hold out the promise of supporting not only more accurate diagnoses of how a vehicle or fleet is performing, but also reliable prognoses of future issues, along with strategies for effectively preventing and fixing them.

This is not science fiction. Digital Twin-based platforms like those developed by Intangles are already helping fleet managers monitor, diagnose and predict performance and maintenance issues.

Digital Twins are dramatically reducing repair and fuel costs, improving driver performance and helping keep trucks on the road.

 

Digital Twin Technology can help the trucking industry navigate a landscape that is increasingly competitive and challenging. The rise of e-commerce is placing ever-increasing demands on transport providers. The so-called “green transition” towards carbon neutrality is spurring innovation and adoption of electric vehicles. Rising urban populations and their corollary—heavier traffic on the road—are putting new pressures on fleet managers to deliver on time. Fuel and maintenance costs are also rising, placing a premium on vehicle and driver efficiency. Meanwhile, trucks themselves are changing, becoming both more data-dependent and more data-intensive. If today’s vehicles can accurately be called “computers on wheels,” then the trucks of the very near future may be called “supercomputers on wheels.”

 

As fleet managers grapple with the challenges and attempt to maximize the value of their assets while reducing costs, Digital Twins are poised to play an increasingly central role in facilitating better, more timely decision-making around vehicle health, road safety, driver training and fuel efficiency. The technology infrastructure that enables Digital Twins has advanced rapidly since their first iterations 20 or 30 years ago, and recent strides in artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive modeling should only accelerate their evolution.

 

The Intangles platform is proving that the power of Digital Twin Technology lies not simply in providing real-time, remote monitoring of an asset, but also in continuously learning from the data it receives. That built-in evolutionary path will ensure that as the trucking industry changes, Digital Twin Technology will change right along with it—and help fleet managers make better, data-based decisions and control costs more effectively as they navigate the road ahead.

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If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to reach out to us directly by emailing us at sales@us.intangles.com or calling us at 747-229-2727.

 

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