During the pilot test, improvements to security, safety, and efficiency were illustrated. In every pilot test scenario, satellite-based mobile communications systems were on all of the tractors, which provided the location of trailers tethered to tractors at a pre-defined reporting interval of once per hour. However, the tractor-based communications system did not monitor trailer and cargo integrity, report trailer door openings, provide information on untethered trailer locations, or detect unauthorized trailer movements. Thus, the UTT system provided distinct benefits.
In Scenario 1, prior to the pilot test, the interval of time that a trailer was not tethered averaged approximately 2 days in which its status was unknown. In transit, the time averaged 1.2 days where the visibility into cargo status was limited or non-existent. When untethered trailers were not at company locations, the participant would not know trailer locations or status related to cargo.
In Scenario 2, prior to the pilot test, the interval of time that a trailer was not tethered averaged 3.9 days, with an unknown status to the carrier. The average en-route time between locations was 1.6 days where visibility into cargo status was limited or non-existent. The participant also indicated that all of their cargo losses occurred while the trailers were loaded and untethered.
In Scenario 3, prior to the pilot test, the participant stated that it was impossible to monitor unauthorized trailer movements or integrity of the cargo space of untethered trailers. The interval of time that a trailer is untethered could be as long as 7 days with unknown status to the carrier. En-route trips averaged approximately 2 days without cargo status visibility, yet this participant did not experience any cargo loss to theft.
Compared to the baseline conditions, the UTT system provided the locations of untethered trailers at pre-determined shorter intervals during the pilot test. In addition, the UTT system could also provide frequent trailer position reports while tethered to a tractor to provide in-transit visibility. Furthermore, the carriers were able to detect door openings, cargo status, and trailer movement outside an assigned geo-fenced area through alert notifications. The following sections show how security, safety, and efficiency can be improved by using the UTT system.
Truck trailers pose a security threat, since they provide an easy means to transport dangerous cargos. Within the trucking industry, the key threats to security that the UTT system can address are:
- Theft of cargo or untethered trailers through fraud, deception, stealth, or violence, where the theft of hazardous material could result in catastrophic releases, and stolen trailers could be used to convey illicit WMD.
- Sabotage of trailers or cargo, where shipments, such as food could be contaminated.
- Interception or diversion of tractor-trailers en route, where unauthorized personnel could gain access to trailers, cargo, and important information for illicit purposes.
To reduce the vulnerabilities relating to the lack of visibility of trailers and their cargo, the UTT system pilot test was configured to provide information on trailer positions with cargo and door status indications, trailer movements, and trailer connection and disconnections.
This section identifies the ways that security can be improved using the UTT system, which can reduce theft vulnerabilities based on deterrence and enhanced detection, response, and recovery capabilities.
6.1.1 Ensure Cargo Integrity
Cargo integrity involves the assurance that cargo tampering has not occurred and unauthorized cargo has not been placed in a trailer. A major impact of exploited cargo integrity in trailers is the potential for transporting a weapon or explosive device in a trailer. Currently, motor carriers who do not use UTT systems with door and cargo sensors have limited visibility into the trailer door and cargo status. Unmonitored trailers are security risks, which can potentially be used as a weapon of mass destruction.
During the pilot test, the UTT system sent door opening messages to the motor carriers only when the doors were opened and cargo was in the trailer. The UTT system provided a trailer position and cargo status when a door opening event occurred and the trailer was "not empty." Using the UTT system host application, the participants could view the trailer's location on a map, identify if the trailer was at an unauthorized location, and determine if the door opening event was a potential intrusion into the trailer. The UTT system sent alert notifications to the participant via pager and email when a door event occurred.
6.1.2 Reduce Cargo Pilferage
Cargo pilferage is the theft of cargo in a trailer. During typical operations, fleets have little visibility into how often their trailer doors are opened en route to a destination; therefore, they are unable to detect pilferage occurrences. Unmonitored trailers are a security risk, because cargo, such as hazardous material, could be stolen for use as a weapon.
According to interviews with the pilot test participating motor carriers, 80 to 100 percent of cargo theft occurred while the trailers were loaded. Trailers are particularly vulnerable to theft at truck stops or parking lots where trailers are dropped or disconnected from tractors. Anecdotally, interviewed motor carriers stated that cargo theft often involved the cooperation of someone directly involved in the shipment. Their rationale was that "an insider" either provided thieves with information regarding the content of shipments, or a driver was in collusion with thieves by allowing access to the trailer. One pilot test participant stated that thieves can obtain advance knowledge about the shipment contents and wait for an opportunity en route to steal the entire trailer or its contents when it is left unattended. However, the participants indicated that the costs of theft to their operations were relatively small compared to their revenue.
With the increased visibility provided by the UTT system's cargo and door sensors, motor carriers could detect and respond to theft to reclaim the lost cargo. In addition, incidents of insider theft by their own personnel could be deterred with the use of the UTT system in conjunction with cargo and door sensors.
Ten members of an independent panel of experts were consulted regarding the use of the UTT system to reduce the vulnerabilities of trailers containing explosives to theft. These experts included seven motor carriers and/or shippers of hazardous materials, two enforcement officials, and an insurance carrier representative expert in security and loss prevention. The experts indicated that the greatest vulnerability of explosives to theft occurred when the trailer was loaded and tethered, followed by trailers loaded and untethered, and lastly, trailers unloaded and untethered.
The compilation of the experts' opinions showed that they believed that the vulnerability of truckload explosives to theft could be reduced the most through the notifications of unauthorized trailer drops and tracking locations of trailers. Next, cargo and door status indications were believed to provide additional incremental improvements in reducing vulnerabilities.
One motor carrier who has been using the UTT system in daily operations reported that the system has reduced theft losses by approximately 50 percent, and believed that the mere presence of the device has a deterrent effect on cargo theft. Although the UTT system can enhance the security of cargo and equipment, the test participants and the experts consulted for this analysis stated that the UTT system capabilities could not exclusively ensure the security of shipments. The participants stated that a well developed and managed security program is also critical that encompasses actions, such as employee screening; employee training and vigilance; enforced policies regarding route adherence, parking and trailer drops; and physical security of facilities. The participants also noted that technology can fail, be disabled, or circumvented.
6.1.3 Reduce Trailer Theft and Detect Unauthorized Trailer Movement/Usage
Unattended trailers may be stolen when a thief or terrorist connects a trailer to a tractor and hauls it away. Potential security impacts of unauthorized trailer movement and theft are pilferage of dangerous cargo, such as hazardous materials for the use as a weapon and loss of unloaded trailers for the transport of a weapon or explosive device. Carriers without UTT systems have limited visibility into the movement of their untethered trailers since they often rely on verbal feedback from customers on the trailer status and location. Trailers may also be falsely obtained and utilized by carrier personnel with legitimate identification.
With increased visibility into when a theft may be occurring, the carrier can use the UTT system to respond and alert authorities to potentially stop the theft and apprehend the thieves.
Unscheduled movement notification using trailer-based geo-fencing allowed the test participants to define geo-fences around a trailer. The UTT system was configured to monitor the status of the trailer relative to the set geo-fence at specific intervals. The UTT terminal sent a notification to the participant when it identified that the trailer moved outside of the geo-fence. The geo-fence was viewed on a map using the UTT system host application. This visibility is significant, since unauthorized persons could inappropriately use the trailers, creating increased security risks and reduced trailer utilization for the carrier.
A trailer disconnection and connection can be remotely identified when a trailer with the UTT system is disconnected from and connected to a satellite communications system-equipped tractor. In the initial on-site participant interviews, the test participants mentioned that they noticed a strong relationship between unauthorized disconnections and trailer theft. If a driver disconnects a trailer in an unauthorized location, the potential for trailer theft can increase.
Motor carriers not utilizing a UTT system do not have visibility when a trailer is disconnected from a tractor at an unauthorized location. With the UTT system, motor carriers would gain this visibility by sending alert notifications to the dispatcher via pager and/or email when the system detects that the trailer is disconnected at an unauthorized location.
With increased visibility into when unauthorized disconnections occur, the motor carrier personnel can quickly respond to contact authorities to stop a potential theft and recover a stolen trailer. Also, the motor carrier personnel can detect when a driver performs an unauthorized disconnection or connection and instigate a process to reduce this activity. The UTT system compares the trailer's current location with the set of authorized disconnection locations and sends an alert to the dispatcher if the trailer is not at an authorized location.
6.2 Public Safety
6.2.1 Reduce the Rate of Crash Exposure
Use of UTT systems can also improve safety, although not in the traditional sense. Using the UTT system can reduce the number of unproductive road miles and exposure to potential crashes by decreasing the amount of time spent hauling misdirected loads or searching for lost trailers. In terms of safety benefits, a reduction in crashes can be based on the reduction of overall rates of crash exposure expressed in crashes per mile driven.
6.3.1 Improve Trailer Utilization
Motor carriers reported that more trailers are purchased than are truly required, since trailers tend to be temporarily misplaced, or carriers unknowingly wait for trailers assumed to be unloaded, which are actually empty and available. To locate their trailers, most motor carriers explained that they made phone calls to customer locations or performed manual searches in their yards. Both of these methods could be time consuming and possibly inaccurate, and the motor carriers agreed that they would like to improve the ability to use their existing trailers.
Using the UTT system, trailers can be located by querying the UTT system host application for a specific trailer; trailers near a specified location or landmark; trailers with a specific cargo status, or a listing of all assigned trailers. UTT terminals automatically report status information at participant-configured intervals. This information includes trailer location, door status, cargo status, time of status, and the UTT system's battery status. Users can also request a status from the trailer at any time, if they need more timely information. The UTT system "wakes up" at configured intervals to check for requests.
6.3.2 Connect Trailer to Assigned Tractor
During the initial on-site participant interviews, test participants mentioned issues with sending the trailer to the wrong location, typically about 300 miles out of the way, which impacts valuable driver hours of service, fuel, and maintenance charges. Using the UTT system combined with the satellite mobile communications system on the tractor, a trailer/tractor connection can be automatically captured and transmitted electronically to a carrier to verify that the driver picked up the correct trailer. Providing visibility into tractor-trailer connections can help to optimize the carrier operations.
Direct communication between the UTT terminal and the tractor terminal occurs when this connection feature is enabled and configured on both the trailer and tractor terminals. The UTT terminal can be configured to post its terminal ID (unified address [UA] identification) when it detects power. The tractor terminal identifies the trailer ID when it is connected to a trailer 7-way connector interface. When the tractor detects a connection, it displays the UTT system ID on the driver's display and sends a connection message OTA to the participant. The UTT system host application displays the connection message and sends an alert to the dispatcher. The dispatcher can check that the trailer was connected to the correct tractor by comparing the automated information with the driver's load assignment.
6.3.3 Improve Visibility in Trailer Detention
During deliveries, there are often delays in unloading trailers and failing to properly report when a trailer is empty. The ability to accurately determine that trailers are loaded at a specific location may improve carriers' operational efficiency by collecting trailer detention charges. The process of consistently billing for the known detention of trailers would likely result in decreased incidents of detention and the increased utilization of trailers.
The satellite-based mobile communications system on the tractor records connection and disconnection activities, and sends the status over the satellite system to the UTT system host. The cargo sensor monitors the trailer for an "empty" or "not empty" status. A cargo status change indicates the transition from "empty" to "not empty," or from "not empty" to "empty." This data provides trailer visibility, and information about detention of trailers.
During the pilot test, the UTT system provided a trailer position and cargo status on its daily status update. Using the UTT host application, the participants viewed this location on a map, in addition to the daily reports showing times and dates for connections, disconnections, and cargo status changes. In Scenario 3, the participants used the cargo status and trailer location information to monitor detention time as a customer service tool to alert their customers that trailers were empty and would be going into detention billing.
6.3.4 Improve Route Visibility by Motor Carrier
During typical operations, preferred routes can be provided to drivers; however, due to unexpected events, drivers may change routes. As a result, motor carriers rarely have visibility into the actual routes taken by trucks without tracking systems. Since most motor carriers have limited driver resources, increasing route adherence can improve their efficiency, since longer routes caused by deviations may increase travel costs and delivery times.
For the pilot test, the UTT system was configured to provide more frequent positioning intervals for trailers en-route. The system was particularly beneficial when a non-carrier-owned tractor without a tractor-based mobile communications system transported a trailer, since the UTT system provided route visibility.
6.3.5 Improve Driver Workload and Time Locating Trailers
For economic reasons, motor carriers optimally utilize drivers to reduce unproductive driver work time. It has been a common practice for drivers to look for trailers in the wrong location or for trailers not to be ready for transport when the driver arrives. By reducing the time that drivers wait while cargo is being loaded or unloaded, the carrier could reduce delivery time, fuel consumption, and idle driver time. Also, reducing the trailer to tractor ratio, while meeting customer demands, is a significant benefit of improved trailer fleet management. Enhanced asset utilization includes increased revenue from trailer detention fees, and converting non-revenue miles to revenue-producing miles.
Unproductive personnel activities focused on the time spent by dispatchers involved in searching for available trailers for dispatch purposes. The unproductive personnel activities also included the time a driver spent looking for trailers that had been moved, trailers not being where dispatch thought they were, or in hauling misdirected loads. Through enhanced visibility of trailers and their cargo, trailers can be used more efficiently, and trailer to tractor ratios can be reduced. According to experts and test participants, the UTT system can improve the ability to find trailers and expedite deliveries through knowledge of trailer arrivals, unloading, and loading. The UTT system can improve the management of both assets and personnel time.
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