Designing intelligent transport with foresight

Companies that use new digital technologies in a smart way, control traffic and thereby transport of the future. Such implementation requires knowledge, networking and vision of one's objectives.

rones, autonomous driving and electrification: traffic and transport of the future are being influenced by a variety of new technologies. Companies can use these technologies to convert them into specific products and solutions for their customers. In doing so, they play a part in designing the future. What are the effects of digitisation on our mobility and on supply chains? What will the intelligent transport of the future be like?


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Answers to these questions may be found at the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) world congress, to be held in Hamburg in 2021. Director Harry Evers says: ‘There will never be a single solution for all the major challenges relating to intelligent transport. Rather, there is a whole bunch of ideas, resources and options. Every country and every region will have to approach these on the basis of its own possibilities.’ In China, for example, Evers sees a major pressure to act: ‘To continue to ensure the mobility of the growing population there, traffic management systems must be completely redesigned. It is not enough to improve an existing system or to enhance it, say by integrating artificial intelligence. Rather, the challenge consists in creating entirely different framework conditions. After all, what was sufficient in the past will not be enough for the future.’
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“It is through this mixing of perspectives and exchange that it will be possible to learn from each other and also to find common solutions.“
Harry Evers,
Director, ITS Hamburg 2021


Harry Evers is certain that the logistics industry and the actors of the ITS world congress can learn from one another. ‘Logistics finds itself under strong economic pressure. In the sphere of ITS people are intensively engaged with individual mobility – an area in which cost pressures are not quite so high. It is through this mixing of perspectives and exchange that it will be possible to learn from each other and also to find common solutions.’ Special themes of the congress will include automated and networked driving, intelligent logistics and intelligent infrastructure. The organisers expect some 15,000 participants to come and learn about the latest topics and to interact and network. Alongside the exhibition, in which companies will hold their own stands, there will also be talks and podium discussions. ‘This is a trade congress that will bring together the world in the fields of transport, logistics and traffic and will allow discussions at the highest level of detail,’ says Evers. At the same time, however, the ITS conference is geared much more towards practice than towards academic aspects – that is, towards users and solutions.


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For Evers, GPS and mobile telephone communications are the decisive base technologies. ‘Countless extra services can be built using the information about where somebody or something is.’ He also regards cloud-based applications and swarm intelligence as key to answering questions about mobility. This is also the orientation taken by the Krone Commercial Vehicle Group in its development activities. ‘We offer solutions that enable parameters such as the vehicle location, axle load, temperatures and tyre pressure to be captured,’ says Kurt Kunz, head of research/predevelopment and electronics at the Krone Commercial Vehicle Group. ‘This information is what provides the key to more intelligence in transport.’ According to Kunz, the analysis takes place in four steps. Firstly, data must be gathered and can then be visualised and made transparent. Next, it is analysed to understand why something happens the way it happens. After this, one can deduce predictions, which help with advance planning and proactive action – rather than merely reacting.
Krone Smart Scan allows free storage space to be detected and used, which avoids empty runs.
Krone Smart Scan allows free storage space to be detected and used, which avoids empty runs.
“For as long as it does only what the others are doing, it will not be able to stand out from the competitors.”

Ingrid Göpfert,
professor of general business management and logistics
at the Philipps University of Marburg


‘It is exactly this proactive action that is in constant demand and sought after by our customers’, says Kunz. Based on the predictions that will be made possible by the careful use of the data, it will be possible to automate and optimise processes using artificial intelligence. ‘Companies can thus spot inefficiencies in transport and eliminate these themselves, and automatically. This is how intelligent transport systems can continue to develop, step by step.’ Apart from the development work led by Kurt Kunz, many other divisions in the company are working on these topics. ‘We meet regularly to exchange knowledge across departments on new trends and activities – and we deduce our own activities on that basis.’ A number of smart digital solutions have emerged in recent years from this process. The measurement of tyre pressure by means of ‘Smart Tyre Monitoring’ helps to prevent punctures, which for customers always means lost time. ‘If we are able to reduce the number of breakdowns of this kind, we can also cut waiting times and achieve transport cost optimisations,’ says Kunz.


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Another of Krone’s innovations is ‘Smart Scan’. This system allows available payload spaces to be detected in real time, evaluated by an algorithm, and allows the data to be made available to hauliers via a portal. ‘In future it will be possible to send this data to freight exchanges and to accept orders wholly or partly automatically, so that the trailer is utilised even more efficiently.’ This data can be combined with information on axle loads so that not only the available load space but also the free storage space can be communicated. And when the loading itself is equipped with sensors or digital devices, these can also be read and the data passed to the freight exchange – just like information on the vehicle or on certificates. ‘At the moment the haulier still has to communicate all this manually,’ says Kunz. ‘In future the many single steps can be converted into a fully automated process that saves time and costs while also offering significantly greater transparency.’ With its ‘Smart Trailer Check’ Krone also offers digital visual inspection of the trailer by mobile app.


With its new validation centre in Lingen, Krone has established a modern testing site for products all across its Commercial Vehicle Group.

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“With this new centre we will be able to test products far more effectively and at the same time more quickly, so as to get them to market faster or work on their further development.”

Dr Ulrich Wessling,
Head of product development at Krone


The official ground-breaking ceremony was held in the Lingen industry park in early 2019. The 13-hectare site will include a machine hall with workshops, a testing hall with three permanent test stands and a modular test facility for a wide range of tasks. Additionally, office space and a test track for homologation and test runs are under construction. The entire facility will enable hard daily operation to be brought into the laboratory, with products being tested, for example, on test tracks for up to a million kilometres. The tests will run for different lengths of time – from a few hours to several weeks. In the new centre, the equipment can be operated round the clock; planning will not be hampered by factors such as drivers’ rest periods or interruptions caused by bad weather.
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“This will enable us to respond more specifically to the requirements of our customers.”

Thorsten Perk,
Head of Testing at Krone

The testing can include, for example, the axles of agricultural machinery or individual parts through to entire semi-trailers. The products will be tested for static strength and durability, among other parameters. ‘With the new facilities we will also be able to test larger gearboxes for the agricultural sector than before,’ says Thorsten Perk, head tester for the Krone Commercial Vehicle Group. The modular, multi-axial test facility makes testing considerably more flexible, since the most diverse of tests can be prepared and carried out quickly without great effort. A further system simulates the impact of the road on vehicles: here, mechanical impulses are introduced vertically through the wheels and the fifth wheel into the vehicle. This imitates the oscillations that occur during travel and allows their effects on the components to be studied, with weak spots quickly found and eliminated.

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The centre will enable the Krone Commercial Vehicle Group to ensure the high quality of its products and to visualise and verify their reliability in operation with even greater efficiency. ‘This will let us respond more specifically to the requirements of our customers, as it will be possible to test even small batch sizes,’ says Perk. ‘This is of particular interest for components that are only used in special areas.’ He sees the greatest advantages of the new centre in terms of the combination of its high-quality modern equipment, the size of the site and the amalgamation of the test centre and test track side by side. Ulrich Wessling adds: ‘We will then have far more possibilities available to us and will be able to deal with more issues in future. The location in Lingen with its higher-education institution will also foster cooperation with academia.’ The Krone Future Lab also deliberately adopted this name because it is intended in future to be a place where ideas beyond day-to-day business can be developed. Teams from different company divisions will be able to meet one another in specially designed offices to pursue innovative approaches together.

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This solution, which won the award of ‘Trailer Innovation 2019’, can capture various data such as the status of a vehicle before the start of a journey. This information is then digitally stored. ‘This gives the fleet manager a complete overview of the fleet; he can then take actions if necessary, such as scheduling a repair appointment. So, again, this amounts to proactive action,’ says Kunz. Improved vision and driving safety are provided by ‘Krone Smart Birdview’. With this solution, cameras are fitted into the upper trailer structure and offer the driver at the wheel an all-round view. That is helpful, for example, when manoeuvring. ‘If you think carefully about the possibilities that this application offers, by combining it with sensors you could for example, create a higher level of anti-theft protection,’ explains Kurt Kunz. This is exactly where the great potential of the technological developments lie. They can flow into specific solutions that make the ordinary working day easier, offer greater safety, or reduce costs. To put this into practice, one needs to understand that direct customer contact is required – but so is foresight: companies must continue to look ahead, to focus on their own development, and to set clear objectives.


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How can you work on tomorrow’s intelligent transport systems and develop and implement businesses that are also fit for the future? Ingrid Göpfert, professor of general business management and logistics at the Philipps University of Marburg and author of ‘Logistik der Zukunft’ (‘Logistics of the future’, published by Springer) is certain that a clear vision of the future is necessary to do this. ‘If a company hasn’t got this, it will behave like the competition: it will imitate the developments of the others. In doing so, however, it will fall into a dangerous growth trap. For as long as it does only what the others are doing, it will not be able to stand out from the competitors, and so it will not achieve any kind of sustainable competitive advantage.’ It is important that such a vision is specific to the company. ‘No off-the-peg future vision will suit individual situations,’ adds Göpfert. With a carefully matched view of the future, on the other hand, a company will be able to access all the functions that give it energy and strength: ‘Studies demonstrate that companies with vision are more successful than companies without vision. Vision gives the company a personal identity by highlighting its uniqueness and specificity.’ She adds that employees are more motivated and have more of a sense of meaning if a concept for the future is formulated. ‘It indicates the direction and focuses on the core activities in the company. If the people working there have internalised this direction, it also provides an important coordinating function in that it promotes holistic, systematic thinking and action. And last but not least, the vision is a driver of innovations in the company.’
If a company has no vision of the future of its own, it will scarcely stand out from the competition. An accurate picture of its own objectives, on the other hand, sharpens its own identity.
If a company has no vision of the future of its own, it will scarcely stand out from the competition. An accurate picture of its own objectives, on the other hand, sharpens its own identity.
Photos: Freepik, ITS, Krone, iStock Illustrationen: Susann Hoffmann

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