International Truck and Bus Corp. has become the first commercial vehicle OEM to develop a wireless telematics system that will provide users with remote performance monitoring, diagnostics and tracking information. Available as a retrofit starting in July, the first generation of the International Telematics Solution is a black box system that will automatically collect vehicle operating and location information for scheduled transmission over cellular networks without any input from drivers.

Developed with IBM, it differs from third-party wireless systems by offering direct integration with the truckmaker's service and support databases.

Fleets will access information through a web portal created by IBM and run by International. The data will be used by International to offer users optimized service schedules with automatic alerts as vehicles near service points.

Fault codes sent by the system will also automatically link to appropriate web-based International troubleshooting routines, and the system will offer seamless connections to the company's service and parts networks.

The new telematics service also takes advantage of the multiplex electrical system developed for International's new line of “high-performance” medium- and heavy-duty trucks, allowing remote monitoring of body accessories installed on a truck. Accessory information can be used to assess status and set maintenance schedules based on actual use.

A full range of vehicle performance monitoring functions can be accessed through a variety of reports generated by the system's web-based management applications. It can also be used to automate end-of-day odometer and fuel readings, as well as poll fuel readings and battery charge status before drivers begin their day. An automated fuel-tax reporting service will also be offered through a third-party fuel charge card provider.

Alerts generated by either vehicle fault codes or driver performance can be sent to managers via any electronic device handling text messaging.

Tracking features include records of actual routes with time, location and duration of stops, as well as geofencing with automate alerts when vehicles enter or leave specified areas. The web portal provides locations for an entire fleet with both highway and street-level maps.

Wireless service for the telematics system will be provided over an unspecified national cellular network using 1XRT digital data service. Location and basic operating information will be automatically transmitted every 15 minutes, and a more detailed report will be sent at the end of the day. Trucks can also be polled at any time by the fleet. The black box will store data when vehicles roam outside of coverage areas, automatically forwarding that data when they return to coverage.

International will handle billing for the entire service with a single monthly charge that includes wireless service. Prices have not yet been released.

Future enhancements will include additional wireless communications options such as WiFi and satellite service, driver displays and input devices, and advanced prognostics based on actual vehicle performance and International's truck engineering expertise. The data system built by IBM is based on open standards, making integration with fleet maintenance and enterprise systems also possible in the future. In addition, International says it intends to “data mine” the collective fleet operating information to help it improve current products and develop future ones, as well as perfect vehicle prognostics.

Initially, the International Telematics Solution will only be available in the U.S., but it will be expanded to Canada within 12 months, according Jeff Banister, director of truck electronics. Plans also call for Mexico to be added to the telematics network.
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