June has started with some interesting technology developments in fleet management. Antony Savvas takes a look. Madrid-based OnTruck, which has built a “haulage tech platform” to better match supply and demand in the road freight industry, has picked up €25 million in Series B funding.

The round was led by global venture capital fund Cathay Innovation, with participation from an array of existing and new investors that includes Atomico, Idinvest, All Iron Ventures, Total Energy Ventures, GP Bullhound, Point 9 Capital and Samaipata Ventures.

Digitising freight

Founded in 2016, OnTruck is one of a number of start-ups putting great efforts into “digitising” the freight market. Its efforts will enable road freight firms in Spain, and more recently the UK, to connect with the start-up’s network of more than 2,200 lorry drivers operating in both countries.

For the vehicle drivers themselves, many of whom are owner-operator firms, OnTruck offers the chance of a steady stream of reliably priced work. And OnTruck’s logistics platform is also claimed to make haulage journeys more efficient.

OnTruck says its technology automates the matching of loads to trucks and provides real-time GPS tracking of all shipments. The company’s algorithms also aim to dispatch work in a way that significantly cuts down on empty journeys. On this latter effort, the problem the system is attempting to tackle is particularly common in the regional and short-haul market on which OnTruck is focusing.

OnTruck CEO, Iñigo Juantegui says: “Regional trucking is where shippers and truck drivers suffer from the most inefficiency, with over 40% of kilometres driven empty.” The firm’s shipper and driver app can lower both supply chain costs for shippers and empty stretches driven by truckers.

The firm’s clients already include large multinational companies like Procter & Gamble and Decathlon, in addition to more than 400 mid-sized firms across the UK and Spain. The new funding, said Juantegui, will be used to consolidate its market in those two aforementioned countries, and in addition to expand to more European countries. Naturally, as they are big potential markets, both France and Germany are the focus of some of OnTruck’s attention.

An NB-IoT shot in the arm

This positive news was followed by the GSMA announcing the completion of the first European NB-IoT roaming trial, involving both Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone, which will be another shot in the arm for the developing fleet Internet of Things (IoT) market.

In the trial, the two mobile operators successfully completed the first international roaming trial in Europe using licensed NB-IoT technology. Such a service, said the GSMA, will ensure “seamless coverage” and “service continuity” for millions of connections using Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks.

The trial was performed using global SIMs from Deutsche Telekom on Vodafone Spain’s network and global Vodafone SIMs on T-Mobile Austria’s network and commercial NB-IoT modules. The trials will also provide guidance to other operators in delivering a consistent level of implementation, the GSMA adds.

Sustainable roaming

“The success of these trials is an important milestone in the development of a sustainable roaming environment for mobile IoT networks, showcasing their capabilities as well as ensuring consistent service across geographical boundaries,” says Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer at the GSMA.

He adds: “The market has matured considerably in a very short time and we anticipate that this will be the year that mobile IoT scales. Undoubtedly this is because only licensed, managed mobile services can provide the secure low power connection that can meet future demand.”

Antony Savvas

Further illustrating the importance of the effort, the trials included the deployment of important power saving features such as Power Saving Mode (PSM), Long Periodic Tracking Area Update (TAU) and various throughput and round-trip-time measurements.

The GSMA is now working to accelerate the adoption of mobile IoT through 36 Open IoT Labs, enabling operators, module vendors and application providers to develop LPWA devices and applications for a wide variety of verticals.

According to GSMA Intelligence research forecasts, by 2025, there will be 3.1 billion cellular IoT connections, including 1.8 billion licensed LPWA connections.

In various areas of IoT fleet, it now seems to be full steam ahead for the industry!

The author of this blog is freelance technology writer, Antony Savvas

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