RIO – A Paradigm Shift for Global Transportation?

RIO - A Paradigm Shift for Global Transportation


According to Andreas Renschler, CEO of Volkswagen Truck and Bus:

“RIO will fundamentally change the world of transportation as we know it.”

So what is RIO? And why don’t we know about it? To answer this question we first have to look at the history of Telematics in truck fleet management.

What is Telematics?

Telematics is a combination of the words telecommunications and informatics. It is the technology of sending, receiving and storing information relating to remote objects – like vehicles – via telecommunications devices.

Fleet managers use it to monitor data ranging from engine maintenance, driving habits and geolocation. They do this to drive down costs and increase productivity. Telematics plays an absolutely critical role in the profitability of trucking companies.

Telematics Allow Trucking Companies to Make Money

An article in Fleet Owner explains this very well:

“In 1980, the cost of a new truck was around $80,000 and trucking companies got around $1.50/mi. to haul freight,” says Chris Hines, executive vice president at Fleet management technology firm Zonar. Today, a new truck costs around $130,000, according to Hines, yet trucking companies are getting roughly the same $1.50/mi. “It is technology and Telematics that still allow trucking companies to be hyper – competitive and make money.”

There are four main goals for Telematics technology development:

  1. Maximize uptime
  2. Meet current safety/compliance standards
  3. Increase fuel savings
  4. Maximize operational efficiency

And Telematics companies have come a long way to providing very sophisticated solutions to meet those goals, since their first “clunky” offerings in the early 2000’s. Therein lies the problem. Multiple Telematics providers are providing the same solutions but each with their own operational workflows and strengths and weaknesses. And they all sit on their own technology islands not talking to each other.

RIO – An Operating System for the Global Supply Chain

Enter RIO, a paradigm shift for transportation technology. It is an open cloud-based “operating system” for the entire transportation industry. Note the use of the word “entire” in MAN’s truck and bus press release. It is not only for fleet management of trucks but for air and ocean freight too i.e. an operating system for the global supply chain.

Complete Transparency

So let’s drill down some to discover what this really means for the logistics industry. The first is that all players in the supply chain – shippers, dispatches, carriers, drivers and customers – are all connected to the same platform. Efficiency is increased, which of course everyone wants, and the whole shipping process becomes completely transparent, which is an enormous benefit for the customer.

Open Platform

Seondly, the open platform means that RIO can be used regardless of vehicle brand or telematics system. The expensive piece of telematics hardware already installed in the truck does not have to be replaced or trashed. All vehicles can be retrofitted without any difficulties. This is another significant benefit for the truck owners.

Operating System

And finally the open platform also means that it becomes an operating system. Envisage IOS or Android for the transportation industry. You have a basic operating framework, the operating system, and you download apps to extend its functionality. As stated in the press release:

“RIO provides the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of digitization without the need to have strong IT skills all specially trained experts. Similar to operating systems of smart phones, 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.”

MAN plan to start rolling out trucks with RIO as standard in spring 2017. Volkswagen has an ownership stake in Navistar so expect to see deployment in their line of trucks at some point.

RIO – Changing the World of Transportation As We Know It

RIO has ramifications across the global transportation industry. A single platform for the movement of goods across the planet will level the playing field for shippers, carriers, freight forwarders, 3PL’s and customers. Even Amazon will have to pay attention!

Andreas Renschler sums it up best:

“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 be available in a few months. The future of transportation does not begin in 2025, but right here and now.”

If you’re interested in learning how shipping by rail might better meet your freight transportation needs call New Mexico Transloading at 505 – 908 – 1911. We’d be delighted to have a conversation with you.

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