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Connecting Vehicles to the Cloud

Sept. 11, 2019
Monitoring off-highway equipment remotely by analyzing data gathered on their CAN communications opens new opportunities for reducing total cost of ownership and increasing reliability and productivity.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and related mobile machinery telematics systems allow original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), fleet owners, and rental facilities to use their machinery more efficiently. They gain a better understanding of how their vehicles are used by the operator and benefit from continuous system monitoring and diagnostics. New technologies and stricter requirements for safety, control, and efficiency present new challenges for off-highway equipment.

Off-highway equipment manufacturers need an efficient environment for local troubleshooting, diagnostics, and testing. They can reduce downtime and costs for local support engineers during the warranty period by providing remote accessing to the machinery. By tapping into a machine’s CAN networks to access information contained within the its electronic control units (ECUs), OEMs can also evaluate usage patterns to consider operator needs when developing next-generation products.

This is essential to fleet owners for reducing their total cost of ownership. They also require efficient asset management through predictive maintenance, integration of recurring billing, and subscription management for end-user management. The localization of vehicles is crucial in terms of security and anti-theft protection. Alarms, monitored through a web portal or sent automatically via e-mail or SMS, ensure fast reaction to any issue with the machine.

Telematics involves monitoring equipment remotely by analyzing data gathered on a machine’s CAN, transmitting data wirelessly via an IoT gateway to the Cloud and interacting through a smart device.

TTControl has developed a comprehensive IoT platform that includes a Cloud solution and a gateway to address the needs of OEMs and fleet owners. The TTConnect Cloud Service can be integrated seamlessly into existing electronic architectures of machinery, enabling remote access to data available in a vehicle’s CAN networks. This includes traditional engine data—such as engine speed, load variations, or fuel consumption—but also additional diagnostic information gathered from ECUs, hydraulic systems, and sensors.

To achieve this, TTConnect Wave, a ruggedized IoT gateway suitable for harsh environments typical for off-highway vehicles, is installed on the machinery and connected to the CAN networks. The gateway collects data and redirects them to the Cloud, a web portal accessible anywhere, anytime, from any web-enabled device that lets users observe and analyze all collected data.

The Cloud as a Platform

The platform stores a database of the CAN data the user wants to monitor. The configuration is transmitted to the IoT gateway device installed on the machine, so only the selected parameters will be monitored. The Cloud offers intuitive dashboards and widgets that can be customized, allowing for a fast understanding of any live parameters of the vehicle. User accounts with custom dedicated access rights can be created through the web portal to tailor data to the requirements of certain end-user groups—for example, configuration engineers, service technicians, or operators monitoring alarms.

The IoT gateway acts independently from the machine’s ECUs , so it can be retrofitted easily. It reads data via multiple CAN networks and transmits it via its cellular interface when it is connected to a mobile network. When the machine is not connected, it stores the data until the vehicle re-enters an area with network coverage. The set of CAN data to read and transmit to the platform is defined by the CAN data database previously defined in the Cloud configuration section.

The Cloud offers OEMs a comprehensive solution for deep insight into vehicle data. Users can access CAN-based data efficiently for predictive and preventive maintenance analyses, machine performance history, remote/local testing, diagnostics, and system calibration. The security core concepts are part of the solution for allowing custom access to data and warnings of any undesired events before they happen.

The solution is scalable and ready for deployment on hundreds or thousands of machines with different properties. This is because air gateway and ECU software upgrades are configurable by grouping devices with multiple criteria (imachine type, machine model, geographical area, etc.) for scheduled machine upgrades.

The IoT gateway provides GSM/UMTS/HSPA+ connectivity and is licensed for 35 European countries and North America and can be installed on any off-highway machine with a CAN interface. The Cloud service is accessible via internet browsers that have a secure multi-user login. The system can be configured easily via graphical setup screens, so setup requires no software programming skills.

Cloud services can be customized with a dedicated web portal using branding colors and logos of the OEM or fleet owner. Dashboards can be created and widgets selected for each IoT gateway to monitor only what is necessary in a clearly laid out graphical user interface. A map localization widget shows the position of the currently selected machine.

This information was provided by Janosch Fauster and Andrea D’Achille, of TTControl, a joint-venture company between TTTech Computertechnik AG and Hydac International in offering control systems and operator interfaces for mobile equipment and functional safety. For more information, visit www.ttcontrol.com.

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