Bulk Tainer’s tracking solutions leverage machine learning (ML) algorithms to monitor bulk liquid containers and maximize container utilization efficiency as they travel across Europe. The company found that a typical logistic company’s containers could spend up to 70% of their time stationary, waiting for their next consignment, resulting in wasted resources. So the concept of a tracker that could optimize planning by predicting optimum routes and ETAs, monitoring location, and linking to fleet management or ERP systems was born.

The Challenge

The project scope soon broadened to accommodate real-life use cases that posed several challenges for Waleed Elmughrabi – Director of Bulk Tainer Telematics.

“Anyone can track a truck moving across Europe, but we needed a solution that offered seamless global connectivity. Most importantly, we needed a solution that utilized machine learning to study historical data to provide accurate predictions and handle multiple data inputs such as motion and temperature from a disparate range of devices before securely displaying them in a single dashboard. As a result, we’ve created a solution that utilizes ML based on a broader range of data sources such as real-time traffic, weather and historical data, like time spent in customs, to provide more accurate predictions.”

Chemicals (or foodstuff) being transported across Europe often require temperature control to ensure they stay within a given temperature range; an extreme example is delivering to central Russia, where the temperature can drop to -42º.  Without a data-driven solution, it’s impossible to verify that haulage heating stations provided the contracted service at the right temperature and for the correct time. Bulk Tainer’s IoT solution helps identify reliable and consistent providers. The cost and administrative burden of multiple cellular carriers were also a concern for trucks traversing continents with varying cellular coverage.

Other features like geofencing ensures that chemicals were not traveling through unauthorized tunnels, and environmental thresholds needed to be monitored to prevent spoiled cargo.

Waleed was a one-person team. He built the company from ground up, and designed and built an end-to-end bespoke solution. As a start-up, the company used the help of external consultants until it was able to hire new team members to establish itself as the first Telematics/IoT company that was born from a collaboration between technology experts and logistics veterans, who, based on their extensive understanding of all the supply chain challenges, developed solutions that will drive the industry forward. 

Solutions

Waleed was aware of Pelion’s support and found the modularity, scalability, and flexible pricing model complimentary for his use-case. In addition, Pelion worked with Bulk Tainer to develop multiple profiles to suit any consignment – from low to high data and constrained battery scenarios.

Waleed reached proof of concept over 12 months, having designed the solution in-house with reliance on external consultants. He states –

“By democratizing IoT technology, Pelion helped Bulk Tainer develop from start-up to an established telematics IoT company and allowed me to reach the market sooner.”

Pelion facilitated the creation of simple APIs that could integrate into any fleet management system with ease. The flexibility on offer meant that different haulage companies could control the full stack, right down to the read rate of a sensor and what happens with that sensor while out of range, for example, while at sea. Waleed commented –

“Pelion allowed us to create a scalable and flexible solution that reflected all our logistical scenarios.”

Pelion’s out-of-the-box SDKs and network stacks are optimized for ultra-low power devices to reduce running and battery replacement costs.  Pelion’s most significant contribution was a dramatic reduction in software development time. Ruggedized IoT nodes that are strong enough to cope with a Siberian winter and withstand dust and flame take up to 6 months to certify. So, it was essential to develop software swiftly to allow the hardware to undergo ATEX certification.

“We saved six months of development time by choosing Pelion, which resulted in a significant cost saving for a team that consisted primarily of contracted consultants and developers.”

These cost savings are reflected downstream too. For example, haulage companies requiring a firmware update would typically be charged for an 800-kilobyte update across their fleet of up to 8,000 trailers. 

However, leveraging Pelion’s Delta Update capability, only the required update elements are sent, resulting in a far less cumbersome and expensive update consisting of 35 kilobytes – saving thousands in connectivity costs each year. This allowed Bulk Tainer to deliver a cost controlled solution and the ability to optimize the product over the air without the cost and hassle of recalling devices.

Next steps

Waleed will be putting Pelion’s scalability to the test as he develops platform as a service white-label offerings (PaaS) that allow third parties to develop their own solutions. They also plan to build a range of BLE sensor nodes that can offer richer insights into specific tank and pipe locations.

Future iterations of the devices will rely upon Pelion’s connected device platform, consolidating APIs from third-party MNOs into a single streamlined interface. This enhancement will offer Bulk Tainer’s growing team and customers a more granular view of device life cycle costs, all fed into a single, concise dashboard. 

“The ability to look at a particular scenario like a truck rolling across South America, then optimize the roaming charges during each phase of the journey without having to piece together intel from multiple APIs is as effective as it is concise.”

Waleed Elmughrabi- Director of Bulk Tainer Telematics.

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