TIP Trailer Services, a multinational provider of truck and trailer leasing, rental, maintenance and sales services, has teamed up with Xomnia to build two solutions from the ground up to solve the following challenges: the need to automate their customer on-boarding and off-boarding process, and the need to be able to access and use data about their trailers in real time.
To overcome the first challenge, the manual on-boarding process of clients, which required the efforts of multiple people and took a longer time, became completely automated by integrating the existing TIP systems to a third-party system via APIs (using Function Apps), and ETL pipelines and job orchestration (using Data Factory).
The second challenge was ingesting IoT data collected by the modems on the trailers, in order to allow TIP to access vital information such as the trailers’ status and mileage in real-time. To solve this challenge, Xomnia built an IoT data wrangling solution, which can process data in batches and in streams in order to provide useful insights to both TIP and their customers.
“Daniel successfully aligned the Azure platform design with the business needs to integrate the FleetConnected telematics platform with TIP’s leasing and rental platform to enable customer hire automation, customer set-up and on-boarding.” - Christian Payne about Daniel Galea, the data engineer at Xomnia in charge of the project
TIP Trailer Services (TIP Europe) covers 17 countries, with a current fleet of 113,000 assets. To enhance its services, the company aims to start allowing its customers to monitor and maintain their fleet in real-time.
The first challenge that TIP wanted to overcome by collaborating with Xomnia was integrating its existing internal systems with its third-party telematics provider. This provider stores data generated by TIP, and provides it with modems, IoT devices, and a client-side application that allows clients to log-in and view their fleet in real-time.
Previously, multiple team members were involved in the on-boarding and off-boarding process of a client. The process involved requesting that trailers be fitted for a customer into the third-party environment, then uploading the trailer information to the customers’ systems, followed by synchronizing the modems with the trailers, among other steps. This manual process, which often took several hours to complete, was an ideal case to apply automation.
The second challenge was that of ingesting the IoT data generated by the devices installed on the various trailers owned by TIP. TIP had been collecting data from its trailers through modem installed on them, which was stored into a third party API. TIP, however, was not able to access this data in real time. As a result of this, the company couldn’t directly access the mileage crossed by a trailer, and needed to rely on drivers reporting in TIP’s garages the distance crossed. This challenged the accuracy with which customers were billed for their mileage.
Solution: Automation and ingesting IoT data
Daniel Galea, a data engineer at Xomnia, started by talking with TIP Insight’s product owner and project manager to gather the requirements, understand the business logic required for integration, and determine which datasets are needed and where they currently reside.
To automate the on-boarding process, all the steps that it involves got translated into an architecture composed of Microsoft Azure PaaS services, which are both scalable and secure, and allow for a short time-to-market. Azure Functions were used to create APIs, which integrate existing TIP applications with the third-party telematics solution. As a result, on-boarding and off-boarding a client became a process that could in one step be triggered to happen from end to end, from TIP to customers and vice versa.
Azure functions were also used as a means of extracting the IoT data from the third-party API that had been used to store data collected by the modems on the trucks. The IoT devices will now allow TIP to ingest that data in real time, by inserting data collected by the trailers into TIP’s Azure environment so that they can use it for reporting and finance.
In the future, this will allow data scientists to analyze data and train their machine learning models. Furthermore, the data (raw, curated, and consumption ready) will be stored in a centralised storage, which is easily accessible by other tools.
Xomnia provided a twofold impact to TIP. Firstly, the integration solution means that a once cumbersome and entirely manual process has now become fully automated, and it can scale as TIP brings in more business. TIP can now better control its IoT data-flow as assets are off-hired by one customer and hired by another. This ensures complete privacy to TIP’s customers, while maintaining a history of the data which is valuable to both TIP and its customers.
Secondly, the Telematics Analytics Platform will allow TIP to provide their customers with better service, as well as ensuring that TIP can take better care of their fleet and provide the business with a higher level of data quality. With regards to operational and financial reports, TIP no longer needs to rely on manually inputted data that can be prone to errors and can compromise the accuracy with which customers are billed. Moreover, it will be able to use its newly accessed data to train valuable machine learning models.
By: Daniel Galea