Thermo King upgrades tracking, monitoring capability
Dec 1, 2002 12:00 PM, [Compiled by Gary Macklin • firstname.lastname@example.org]
Fleets can now track equipment and communicate with refrigeration units in terminal locations, at remote locations while trailers are attached to tractors, or when trailers are untethered. System upgrades allow monitoring with proprietary Thermo King hardware and software or through third party devices sending data across networks used for remote communication with drivers.
For untethered unit monitoring and trailer location, Thermo King has introduced Trac-King, a proprietary system for tracking and controlling refrigerated trailers using an Internet connection. Trac-King uses global positioning to locate refrigerated trailers throughout North America. With information accurate to within a few yards, fleet managers can locate trailers that are late for appointments and provide updated estimates of arrival times. In addition, the system can be used to scan an entire fleet to determine operating status of assets and to schedule equipment utilization. The system also provides trailer route history and allows remote diagnosis of refrigeration unit operating faults.
Like many untethered trailer tracking devices, Trac-King monitors unauthorized vehicle movement, deviations from authorized routes, and trailer door openings. This monitoring is done in real-time and can be combined with automatic alarms and management notification of unexpected events. The system comes with high-resolution street mapping with addresses. It can be used to monitor load temperature in near real-time and can be used to aid maintenance scheduling. Trac-King automatically provides a listing and location for the Thermo King dealer closest to trailers equipped with the system.
The system determines vehicle location with the global positioning system and reports data using satellite or digital cellular communication across a wireless link to the Internet. Tracking information is reported constantly to the Trac-King web site at www.thermoking.com/tracking/default.htm.
For fleets that choose to monitor trailer and refrigeration unit operation using their tractor tracking and communication network, Thermo King has recently introduced I-Box, a protocol interpreter that provides information from the refrigeration unit through the existing tractor-trailer power line cord. Thermo King says that I-Box is the first commercial application of refrigeration unit monitoring to be granted access to the tractor-trailer power line carrier.
The I-Box system is a small communications link that installs inside the refrigeration unit case. It is powered by the refrigeration unit electrical system. It is compatible with the entire range of Thermo King microprocessor unit controllers and the DAS datalogger. The system uses standard industry protocols for data transfer through the tractor wireless communication equipment. Use of the I-Box protocols requires third party service providers to purchase a developer's kit for access to Thermo King's proprietary refrigeration system.
A third tracking option is R:Com for fixed terminal area communication and monitoring. R:Com uses a transmitter attached to the refrigeration unit microprocessor controller or datalogger. This transmitter passes information to a base station receiver, which provides information through a standard personal computer loaded with the R:Com software. Relay units can be mounted around the grounds of large distribution centers to extend the reach of R:Com.
R:Com can operate in an automatic mode, periodically broadcasting queries throughout the network. These queries detect refrigeration units that have arrived within the broadcast area since the previous query. When a new unit is detected, R:Com logs it onto the network and downloads any available information. The system also relays other information such as unit operating alarms to managers. If an alarm requires immediate action, R:Com sends an alert message in as many as four ways. It places a flashing icon on fleet managers' computer screens, sounds an audible alarm, sends urgent email alerts, and pages managers by cellular telephone.
R:Com is compatible with Thermo King microprocessor controllers starting with the MP-IV and its successors as well as DMS-III, DRS, DAS, and Accutrac dataloggers. The software runs as a normal desktop application on any personal computer using the Windows 2000 or NT operating system.
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