Vehicle Telematics

SCALAR – Orchestration Platform for fleet operators in India

Telematics Wire is in discussion with Hjalmar Van Raemdonck, Head of Digital Systems Solutions, Commercial Vehicle Solutions Division, ZF Group. Here are the excerpts:

ZF recently launched its SCALAR Fleet Orchestration Platform – please can you elaborate about what SCALAR is?

SCALAR is ZF’s new Fleet Orchestration Platform which offers fleets real-time, AI-based automated decision-making, optimization and advanced operational efficiency.  It brings together the four core principles of transportation – what to transport, how to transport it, when it should arrive and ways to improve – by combining Planning, Routing, Dispatching and Business Intelligence capabilities in a single dynamic and open platform. This ensures any changes are automatically applied throughout the chain.

Establishing intelligent end-to-end systems, SCALAR can seamlessly ‘orchestrate’ freight logistics and passenger transportation. Setting a new industry benchmark, SCALAR brings together advanced digital connectivity and supports future technologies, including autonomous driving, for mixed fleets.

Leveraging the powerful digital capabilities of SCALAR’s Fleet Orchestration Platform will enable ZF to virtually redefine Fleet Management and help commercial fleets achieve new levels of efficiency by establishing intelligent end-to-end systems.

How will the commercial vehicle industry benefit from ZF’s Scalar and can you share any use-case benefits?

With approximately 25 to 40 percent of freight journeys estimated to be empty runs, Orchestration has the potential to help improve fleet efficiency by sending the right vehicle to the right place at the right time. This includes selecting the most fuel-efficient and less environmentally impactful route, supporting fleet sustainability and reducing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) in a fully automated way. SCALAR can also aggregate loads to provide optimal cargo loading for each vehicle.

Automation, self-learning and dynamism are the key elements that set “Orchestration” apart from conventional “Fleet Management”. SCALAR also brings the industry’s first holistic mobility orchestration portfolio to set the stage for ‘Next Generation Mobility’ with Autonomous, Connected and Electrified (ACE) vehicles.

Orchestration generates greater value than combining individual isolated digital solutions through active integration, automation and self-learning. Planning, routing, dispatching and business intelligence are actively integrated and optimized with AI to deliver significant benefits. This includes eliminating management by exception and human error margins as well as ensuring live adaptation and re-optimization to fully automate fleet operations.

SCALAR also provides a wide range of technological benefits to support operational efficiency, sustainability and vehicle uptimes. During its recent Global Technology Days at its test track in Jeversen, Germany, ZF showcased two key proof-of-concepts to demonstrate SCALAR’s future capabilities. This included supporting driver safety as a result of advanced processing of data from a vehicle’s ADAS systems. Additionally, by processing data from cargo monitoring sensors, such as CargoCam, SCALAR has the future potential to provide better protection and management of trailer payloads.

What are the key elements that distinguish ZF’s Scalar from the other commercial vehicle Fleet Management Solutions, who are your competitors and how does it compare with their solutions?

Leveraging its position as the largest global vehicle technology supplier to the commercial vehicle industry, ZF can access rich and unique proprietary vehicle data from its comprehensive portfolio of IoT/connectivity devices. ZF has also acquired Bestmile’s world-class optimization technology for autonomous vehicles and passenger cars. This has further enriched ZF’s extensive Fleet Management System expertise with capabilities for forecasting, self-learning and live automated decision-making for fleets. ZF has now built an open, modular and dynamic platform to bring all these capabilities together. Fully automating fleet processes in real-time, ZF’s SCALAR ensures fleets can automatically send the right mission to the right vehicle at the right time.

The integration of Bestmile’s Orchestration solution represents both a technology enabler as well as a significant commercial milestone for SCALAR in preparing the ground and delivering orchestration services. Underpinning ZF’s strategy to realize Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), ZF is already successfully commercializing the Mobility Service Orchestration Solution, enabling public and private mobility providers to plan, launch and operate highly efficient fixed-route and demand-responsive transportation services for passengers.

When are you going to launch ZF SCALAR in India and as Indian customers are driven by costs, do you plan to introduce a customized solution for the Indian market?

We have a very good understanding of the market requirements for India and fleet orchestration is the next logical step in the value chain after Fleet Management solutions. Our Global Development Centers in Bengaluru and Chennai are at the forefront of rolling out SCALAR solutions for global and Indian markets. Prior to a full launch for the region, the solution is being customized to fully meet the needs of Indian customers. Over 100,000 vehicles have already been equipped with ZF’s solutions in India. Leveraging this rich data, provides ZF with a deep understanding of the complexities and specific needs of the Indian transportation market.

ZF Commercial Vehicle Solutions (ZF CVS) India, is the preferred partner for leading CV OEMs seeking the latest hardware and value-added services because it enables them to be leading players in the market with fully connected vehicles. In the aftermarket, we are the preferred white label partner for a leading international player and supply our hardware and data services.

The pillar of any modern fleet operation is its Fleet Management System as it provides connectivity devices to digitalize vehicle information and a set of digital tools to allow fleets to run safely, greener and more efficiently. India is a growing market and there are several fleets that are already using advanced Fleet Management Solutions. Global operators have made this part of their fleet mandate as TCO, driver comfort, vehicle safety and efficiency and customer satisfaction are major drivers. Large and medium Indian fleets are also adopting ZF’s Aftermarket solutions for their fleets as our value-added offering, from hardware to software and data services, is a key differentiator.

How do you see telematics and connectivity evolving in the India market and how will SCALAR – is it ahead of it time or a catalyst for telematics adoption in India?

India’s commercial vehicle market is fast growing and, with increasing fuel costs, driver retention and pressure on cost margins, connectivity solutions will have a greater role to play. Global markets across Europe, Americas and APAC have also reached a stage of maturity for fleet connectivity.

India has only scratched the surface of this potential and many small and medium fleets are yet to realize the significant benefits that connectivity solutions can provide. OEMs are now offering connectivity solutions as a part of their standard package. The Indian CV market is expected to grow at 15% CAGR over the next 5 years. With the increasing complexity of supply chains for freight and passenger transportation, FMS systems must connect and interface with a growing number of other systems.

ZF’s CVS division is a long-standing pioneer and market leader in fleet telematics globally and across India. As a leading global player ZF sees a strong potential in the Indian market. Going forward, it is ZF’s belief that a fundamental shift is needed to advance from the industry’s current ‘silo’ operating patterns to better address the challenges faced by fleets today. With the introduction of ZF SCALAR, we’ll be the first mover in the commercial vehicle segment to introduce a fleet orchestration platform.

Do you work directly with CV OEMs and Fleets globally and in India or through partners; how does ZF support its partnerships and what additional value they bring and how do you leverage third party / business partnerships?

Globally we connect all parties in the value chain via our proprietary solutions and partnerships. For example, in Europe we collaborate with Goodyear to provide integrated Fleet and Tyre Management Solution supporting mixed and multi-brand cargo fleets and trailer manufacturers. Through Transics, we work with several Transport Management System partners globally and will continue to leverage these partnerships in future.

In India, we work directly with OEMs and with fleets while also working through our channel partners to market our solutions. Depending on fleet requirements, we have multiple business models with our channel partners to offer these solutions. We have over 250 customer touch points through our dealer, distributor and services network across India enabling close customer proximity. We also recently launched the sales, services and spares concept aimed at developing fleet uptime centers that will support our connectivity solutions.

With the launch of SCALAR, leveraging business partnerships and value-added resellers will be important in enhancing reach and to offer customized solutions that meet fleet requirements. We anticipate that the requirements of each fleet will be different, and with ZF providing its orchestration platform, our business partners will be our customer face.

With telematics and connectivity solutions significant vehicle data is captured – how do you support customers with insights from this data and who owns it?

ZF enables rich vehicle data to be securely captured and processed to help support fleets with actionable insights that help drive a whole host of efficiency benefits from enhancing vehicle uptimes to lowering fuel costs, emissions and the Total Cost of Ownership. At every stage, customers own their data. They are free to use their data in any way they wish and can also give ZF the right to use the data to help us create better services.

How do you see the evolution semi-autonomous or autonomous vehicles in the transport industry globally and the impact for India in the medium and long term?  

The commercial vehicle industry is facing unprecedented challenges including safety improvement, driver cost and availability, reducing emissions, driving operational efficiencies. Autonomous driving and vehicle automation has a powerful role to play, now and in the future, helping deliver safer, more efficient vehicles and fleet operations. The automation market is diverse, ranging from simple closed yards to urban and last mile operations. ZF is uniquely positioned to provide OEMs and new players with tailored solutions from yard operations to trucks, fleet management and fleet orchestration. As a complete-vehicle-automation system solutions provider, ZF is the preferred partner for OEMs and operators of autonomous transport and mobility services globally. ZF is building on its strengths with ecosystem technologies that enable us to provide customers with timely, proven and cost-effective tailored Automation Solutions from vehicle to service level.

India is fast catching up with the global players. Vehicle automation ranges from Level 1vehicles where full control by the driver is supported by individual assistance systems up to Level 5 automated vehicles which are fully autonomous. The autonomous vehicle market is now gaining ground with high-end passenger vehicles entering the arena with varied levels of automation. ZF CVS India in partnership with TATA Motors was the first in the industry to launch the forward collision warning system and lane departure warning system on commercial vehicles in 2018. We are continuing to work on advanced levels of automation with road safety, driver retention and TCO demands accelerating the roadmap for autonomous driving.

Comparing last mile goods delivery with long distance goods transport, which segments are currently gaining greater traction with digital solutions?

ZF provides connectivity solutions across the board, from passenger cars to all categories of commercial vehicles. This includes solutions that cover the entire logistics and transportation value chain ranging from first to last mile. Long distance goods transportation, in particular, can benefit from an extensive range of digital solutions. Irrespective of the distance or form of transportation used, however, connectivity will play an increasingly powerful role in the transportation eco-system.

Fleets are operating in a highly challenging and complex environment, with rising fuel costs, regulatory challenges, skilled driver shortages and drive for cleaner, greener and more sustainable operations. It is now an operational reality that fleets in India are increasingly realizing that with fleet management solutions they can gain real-time insights to their operations. As a result, they are being supported with effective route management, vehicle utilization, driver behavior analysis, fuel use tracking and a great deal more across the supply chain and beyond. 

How will you retain customers and extend their platform subscriptions given the high second year drop off rate under the subscription model, particularly in the Indian market where OEMs offer it as a year one package?

While this is a challenge currently faced by many OEMs and other suppliers in India, ZF’s extensive aftermarket network / channels reach enables us to bundle and provide value-added solutions for specific segments. This helps us to sustain and grow subscription levels.

As Head of Digital Solutions, what’s your short and long-term business vision?

Our goal is to bring connectivity to a whole new level to create and enhance services as well as to increase the efficiency of people mobility and freight logistics. We anticipate that future fleets will be increasingly automated, connected and electrified, so fleet operators will need innovative solutions to address this challenge. ZF’s aim is to make fleets leaner, greener, safer and more efficient. On top of this we continue to strive to make fleets faster, more transparent, regulatory compliant and more sustainable. As the complexity of fleet operations increases, we aim to help them make the right decisions quickly and in the most efficient way. Undoubtedly, we will be the India’s preferred choice of digital solutions partner for connected vehicles.

Published in Telematics Wire

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