Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is taking a new step in fleet management software development and just announced that it has formed a new partnership along the way.
On May 5, DTNA announced that Platform Science, an enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) fleet management platform, will be the primary on-vehicle fleet management software development and distribution partner for DTNA, the manufacturer of Freightliner and Western Star truck brands, enabling customers to purchase and utilize third-party telematics solutions and connectivity services directly from their trucks without aftermarket hardware installation. Daimler Truck AG also announced it has made an investment in Platform Science via the company’s Series B funding round.
Platform Science developed its fleet telematics software by focusing on the people who depend on the technology every day. The company’s product developers spent several years working with Schneider and tech installation provider Velociti, immersing themselves in daily fleet operations—from back office and maintenance operations to spending thousands of hours on the road with commercial truck drivers.
“We wanted to go to the end of the barbell and focus on the actual people who had to use those solutions in the back office and the people who had to use it in the cab, and we focused on the experience,” Jack Kennedy, Platform Science co-founder and CEO, told FleetOwner. “We wanted to see what problems they were struggling with that should have been addressed by technology, but for whatever reason had not been.”
“The inclusion of Platform Science in our connected telematics platform represents a leap forward for the industry, and more importantly, our customers,” said Roger Nielsen, DTNA president and CEO. “The demand and the need for efficiency, safety, and uptime has never been greater than it is today. With Platform Science, we will help customers avoid pre-installation delays, improve the fleet manager and driver experience once their assets are on the road, and help keep them moving forward as they keep the world moving.”
Built-in telematics hardware from DTNA will be available from the factory with Platform Science’s software, eliminating the delays, costs, and inconveniences of installing aftermarket devices, cabling, and antennas, DTNA pointed out. The integration of Platform Science’s technology will provide a “seamless customer experience” by including an end-to-end solution and maximum visibility with minimal complexity, DTNA said.
Kennedy explained that Platform Science is providing a platform that not only delivers a complete telematics solution, but a place for other developers and providers to distribute their software as well. He also pointed out that installing and uninstalling telematics equipment has been a nuisance, though part of the telematics business from the beginning.
“It’s ironic that you buy a $180,000 truck and the first thing you do with it is drill a bunch of holes in it and install cables that are unsightly and not optimized for that vehicle,” he said. “Now, we are architected into the solution, so not only is it more convenient and saves time from pulling trucks off the road but it’s just more elegant and allows that in-cab experience to feel quite nicer.”
Kennedy stated that Platform Science is “thrilled to have the opportunity to work with DTNA on this effort to transform the customer experience.” He also pointed out that the real reason Platform Science evolved was to enhance the overall driver experience.
After spending thousands of hours on the road with drivers, Platform Science developers found that drivers had three major frustrations when it comes to telematics:
- Drivers said they didn’t want to answer questions they thought the system should already know.
- They said didn’t want to answer any questions twice.
- They didn’t want to have to look in more than one place to come up with one answer.
Often, drivers perform certain tasks multiple times a day, mainly because of hours of service regulations and the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. Additional work generally falls on the shoulders of drivers and back-office employees. Yet, drivers only have so many hours a day they can work, Kennedy pointed out.
“When you add in time to do administrative work in order to stay safe and be properly compensated, you also take time away from those drivers when they could otherwise be driving and making money,” he said. “So we took that challenge and said, ‘How in a world where they are asking those drivers to do more can we create a product and a system that actually allows that driver to have even more free time to drive than they had before that?’”
That’s when Platform Science took on the challenge to understand the entire day in the life of the driver so federal regulations wouldn’t seem so onerous, and so fewer data entry errors would occur throughout the digital chain, Kennedy explained.
“Our partnership with Platform Science will bring a groundbreaking connectivity experience to our customers. By leveraging Platform Science’s transportation-specific Mobile Device Management, customers will be able to choose the solutions to fit their mixed fleet needs and seamlessly integrate those solutions into their trucks. Platform Science’s edge computing IoT platform for transportation solves for enterprise and large fleet compliance, productivity, and safety needs,” said Sanjiv Khurana, general manager of digital vehicle solutions at DTNA.
This partnership will initially provide key fleet management solutions including ELDs, workflow, driver inspection, navigation options, and additional fleet-specific apps, offering customers choice and control of their on-vehicle mobile technologies. Ultimately, the service aims to deliver apps from a wide range of software providers on one platform.
“Additionally, the investment by Daimler Truck AG in our Series B funding round is a great indication of our common belief that we have reached an inflection point for transportation technology; the in-cab experience will now have the opportunity to keep pace with the ‘in-pocket’ experience that smartphones have taught us to expect,” DTNA stated. “We’re very excited to have this opportunity to expand upon the user-friendly application ecosystem that Platform Science has created to serve both fleet end users and those application, technology, and service providers seeking to serve them.”
According to DTNA, “co-creation is a central tenet of DTNA’s approach to bringing purposeful innovations to market.” DTNA and Platform Science are currently collaborating with some of the nation's leading enterprise fleets to provide feedback during a development and testing phase. DTNA vehicles installed with Platform Science will begin rolling out in 2021.