In 2017, Bosch Services Solutions and SAP plan to launch a marketplace for truck parking spaces that aims to alleviate parking and improve cargo safety.
Travelling by truck along Germany’s and Europe’s transit routes can be a risky business, and this is nothing new. Reports from a study conducted in 2007 on behalf of the European Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism revealed that manufacturing companies and freight forwarders across Europe reported losses of €8.5 billion following incidents of thieves slashing open the tarp to steal the cargo inside, as well as attacking and robbing the truck drivers. According to current estimates from the Transport Asset Protection Association (TAPA), the overall impact on the economy is twice as high — around €16 million every year. What can be done about it?
Truck Drivers: Put an End to the Parking Lottery
“Incidents like these virtually always occur in the parking lots,” says Jan-Philipp Weers, co-initiator and project lead of Bosch Secure Truck Parking at Bosch Service Solutions. The problem is that estimates from the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs revealed a shortage of around 14,000 truck parking spaces. “Drivers are forced to park their trucks on entrance ramps, which endangers other drivers, or alternatively in dark industrial estates,” explains Weers.
Truck drivers in Europe face a parking space shortage of 14,000, leading to stress and dangerous alternatives
There is currently no transparency on the parking situation, and for truck drivers it’s simply a question of luck as to whether they are able to find a parking space in good time. “It’s not uncommon that drivers have to stop at up to six parking lots before they find a parking spot,” confirms Weers. “This causes the drivers stress.”
Two Reasons for a Reservation Platform
A reservation platform could soon put an end to this dilemma, and for two reasons.
First, reliable planning for drivers and freight forwarders. Controllers who plan the route for their fleet will soon be able to reserve parking spaces via a web portal. The drivers will also be able to use an app to access information about available parking spaces, and book them if necessary.
“This way, drivers won’t be subject to a nerve-wrecking hunt for a parking space,” Weers affirms, “and this will also help boost road safety on the German autobahns.”
Second, freight security for customers. Customers such as freight forwarders are given the confidence that their freight will arrive unharmed, and on time.
“Our parking areas will be equipped with security technology, such as video cameras, that will be connected to our monitoring center”, Weers explains. “In the event of the tarp being slashed, even if no freight has being stolen, the truck driver is often unable to set off on time. These days everything needs to be completed just in time, and this can result in major financial losses for the sender.”
Truck Stops: Video Monitoring and Reserving Parking Spaces
Current legislation does not permit the reservation of parking spaces or video monitoring in public rest stops. For this reason, Weers is focusing on private truck stops. He believes this will enable them to set themselves apart. It will make the availability of parking spaces more transparent so that drivers can reserve them.
At the same time, they are driving digital transformation forward to be able to offer drivers personalized restaurant vouchers they can use on arrival. “In this way, truck stops have a clear competitive advantage over public rest stops, as these innovations cannot be replicated,” believes Weers.
Cloud-Based Mobility Data Marketplace
As part of a Europe-wide Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) directive, the government is also investing in technology to record bookings at public rest stops. The Department for Transport (MDM) is offering real-time information on parking space availability in a cloud-based transportation data marketplace free of charge.
“This development was a lucky break for us,” says Weers, who wants to forward this information to drivers and controllers. Users of the new booking platform will be made aware of the availability of public parking spaces, and, if necessary, they can reserve a spot at a truck stop. “The state ITS program and Bosch Secure Truck Parking are initiatives that work in harmony with one another,” says Weers.
Technology: SAP HANA Cloud Platform as a Logistics Hub
The solution is based on SAP Vehicles Network, a marketplace developed on SAP HANA Cloud Platform. In 2014, SAP came together with Volkswagen, Toyota, and BMW for a series of connected car pilot projects to analyze the marketplace, and developed proofs of concept to offer “vehicle-related services,” explains Heino Kantimm, chief expert of Connected Vehicles at SAP. Reserving parking places with a virtual ticket, refueling and paying electronically from the comfort of your vehicle, and creating personalized offers for the driver; these are just three of the services SAP designed in the test scenarios.
IOT: SAP is Automizing Access to Parking Spaces
The marketplace for truck parking works exactly the same. The parking space will be booked using the Bosch reservation system – the front end of the SAP marketplace – before the truck approaches the barrier. A video camera recognizes the license plate, and opens the barrier without the truck driver having to produce a ticket or provide any money. “Freight forwarders will receive a consolidated monthly invoice for the entire fleet”, an advantage which Kantimm believes simplifies the process.
Yet the real USP of this SAP solution lies in its combining heterogeneous systems. “There are various producers of barrier systems, and with help of our technology, we are able to connect them via an interface”, explains Kantimm. He adds that the IoT functionality will also enable video recognition when driving into and leaving the parking lot. Yet this requires that the parking barriers are relatively new. “I have seen parking capacity management systems that were over fifteen years old, and weren’t even operating on Windows 95,” says Kantimm. “With technology that is this old, connecting the systems will be difficult.” That is why he is also investing his time in another SAP initiative, namely to ensure the access systems are more modern, and cheaper.
The booking platform will be launched in 2017, and freight forwarders and truck stops will be able to use the offer along the transit routes. A tightly knit process means that drivers will be able to arrive at their destinations, find a parking space safely and with ease, and the current problems will be alleviated.
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