As of the beginning of 2017, Volkswagen Truck & Bus will be offering an open and cloud-based ‘operating system’ for the entire transportation industry.
It is a first that all players in the supply chain — shippers, dispatchers, carriers, drivers and recipients — will be connected with a uniform information and application system including forecasting features. Thanks to intelligent algorithms, RIO combines different sources of data and then analyses them. Based on the combined information from tractors, trailers, bodies, drivers, and orders as well as combining this information with traffic, weather, or navigation data, RIO will provide its users with concrete recommendations for action in real time. This will significantly improve the transportation and reloading process. It will also significantly increase efficiency and transparency in the transportation ecosystem.
‘Operating system’ for the global supply chain
To this date, harnessing data within the transportation industry is oftentimes not possible due to the players involved who use different software systems e.g. different cargo and vehicle management systems. RIO is the first to offer a common platform and thus one that can be used regardless of the vehicle brand or telematics system. This means that fleet customers with mixed fleets can only use digital services in one single solution. In addition, all vehicle types can be refitted without any difficulties. Systems that already exist and that are used as single solutions — e.g. for managing vehicle data, maintenance, keeping spare parts in stock or at the driver’s disposition — can be transferred to a common platform.
Andreas Renschler, CEO of VW Truck & Bus, commented: “Rio will fundamentally change the world of transportation as we know it. For the first time, our unified platform enables the registration, management, and integrated use of all data and information available in the transportation system. That is beneficial for our customers because it makes their business more profitable. And it is good for the environment, because we will see fewer empty trucks on the road. RIO will already be available in a few months. The future of transportation does not begin in 2025, but right here and now.”
RIO is based on an MAN initiative and is managed by MAN’s Digital Solutions fuction. The aim is to increase its customer’s profitability. “What we can see emerging here is a platform where each user will benefit individually from its added value — regardless of how the fleet looks, which vehicle with which body is carrying the sales order, and which logistics software is used,” said Joachim Drees, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus and Member of the Board of VW Truck & Bus. He emphasised: “Logistics 4.0 can only succeed if artificial barriers and data islands are overcome. That is why we are making every effort to support the development of RIO.”
As of spring 2017, new MAN trucks will be equipped with RIO as standard; in addition, any Scania customer can connect with the platform on request. Using a refit box, any vehicle can be integrated into the network with an FMS interface. Here, RIO automatically receives updates at any time and easily via the cloud. Updates will be carried out around 40 times per year.
Digitisation made easy — RIO leads the way through the data jungle
RIO is not only interesting for operators of large fleets. Especially for small and medium-sized transportation companies, RIO provides the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of digitisation without the need to have strong IT skills or specially trained experts. Similar to operating systems of smartphones, various apps can be used with RIO that are intuitive in their operation and run in any standard web browser. There will be vehicle-specific services — e.g. from MAN or Scania — but also a marketplace for cross-vendor apps or those of third-party providers. Another special feature of RIO is a consistent user interface across all functions: Here the focus was not only on easy recognisability; a particular focus was to meet demand by providing to the different stakeholders of the ecosystem an intuitive interface and subsequently ensuring broad user acceptance.
Markus Lipinsky, Chief Digital Officer at MAN and responsible for RIO, explained: “It is not about launching another telematics system. Instead, we deliberately designed RIO as an open platform that brings together the numerous island solutions. I am convinced that one technology company alone cannot master the complexity of the logistics industry. We are therefore looking for as many partners as possible with the same objective: to optimise the global transportation chain, thereby reducing costs and emissions.”
The initial partners of RIO are Continental, Schmitz Cargobull, Krone, Meiller, and TomTom. Microlise, Telogis, and Idem have been our solution partners from the start here, and BNS and LIS are our software partners. In addition, RIO is working with start-ups such as Synfioo, Park Here, and Loadfox.
Examples of future applications
Driver’s Connectivity — The app sends relevant information to the driver’s smartphone, such as new transportation orders. Following one click, the app directly navigates to the customer.
Truck Share is a feature for shared-economy requirements. Vehicles can be handed over with a digital access key. Directly on the smartphone.
Loadfox is an app for the smart order management of partial loads. Thanks to this app, trucks can be better utilised by assigning additional cargo along the route of only partially loaded trucks. This reduces the amount of traffic, increases efficiency, and helps cut emissions.