DOI: 10.1002/iis2.13083 ISSN:

A Systems Engineering Approach to Reducing Mis‐pulls and Misplaced Trailers for Trucking Fleets

Sean Bumgarner, Martin “Trae” Span, Jeremy Daily
  • Automotive Engineering


Heavy vehicle fleets can have more than three times the number of trailers than tractors, but tractors host most of the vehicle network and tracking systems. Tractor location is readily available through telematics systems, yet trucking operations may pull the wrong trailer during operations because of the lack of trailer location information. The lack of automated trailer location data can lead to lost or mis‐placed trailers, which compromises the service of the product being shipped. Adding dedicated telematics systems to individual trailers is cost prohibitive. Therefore, we propose leveraging the tractor's existing location data with unique identifiers from the trailer to geo‐reference trailers. The goal of the proposed system is to use existing truck and trailer hardware (i.e. the braking system controllers) to identify the trailer serial numbers to the truck‐tractor, which creates geo‐referenced tractor‐trailer combinations. This work follows a system engineering approach for a trailer tracking system design beginning with a thorough review of the problem and customer need, generating concise requirements, conducting a tradeoff study of potential solutions, and demonstrating the proposed solution on a test bench. A systems engineering approach following the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 15288 and International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) technical processes is used for this design and development effort. This work demonstrates a novel approach, delivering a trailer tracking capability fielded through minimal changes to existing hardware and software. This automated trailer location system would reduce mis‐pulled and temporarily misplaced trailers, thus saving time and money for fleet operations worldwide.

More from our Archive