Machines and products are becoming increasingly intelligent. Cars can communicate with repair shops, containers with logistics service providers. The technology that makes this possible is called machine-to-machine communication, or M2M. By 2020 the number of M2M connections around the world is expected to increase to 2.5 billion. Machine-to-machine communication is an important area of growth for us.
M2M can help ideally coordinate the processes of various devices, vehicles and entire industrial facilities. This helps increase industrial productivity, ensure efficient logistics, reduce energy consumption and conserve resources.
We also support the German federal government's Industry 4.0 initiative through our involvement in machine-to-machine communication. The initiative's objective is to maintain Germany's competitive edge in the technology sector.
New wireless technology allows for innovative applications
Our networks are the basis for a number of M2M applications, as mobile network technology is the key transmission channel of every M2M connection. In this respect, the NarrowBand Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is gaining significance. As opposed to broadband applications, which enable transmission of large amounts of data, narrowband technology is specifically designed to reliably transfer very small data packages. Benefits of NB-IoT include its low energy requirements, extensive reach and low-cost device networking. NB-IoT is particularly suitable for use in logistics. When tracing transport containers, all that is needed is for the current position to be transferred about once an hour. Only very small amounts of data need to be transferred in small data packages – and not necessarily in real time. NB-IoT is even used for protecting biodiversity, in a technology that beekeepers can use to protect their bees.
We were pioneers in aiding the development of uniform NB-IoT standards and continue to drive it. NB-IoT is now available in more than 600 locations in Germany. More than 200 of our business customers in various sectors use this technology (as of year-end 2017). We are also leaders in the launch of NB-IoT in Europe and North America: we are already active in seven European markets and the USA with the technology. Our narrowband network should be available nationwide in the USA and in many European countries by the end of 2018.
The port of tomorrow
In 2017 we continued our involvement in the smartPORT logistics (SPL) pilot project for the port of Hamburg. The goal of the project is to improve HDV traffic flows at the port of Hamburg and in its vicinity. All relevant traffic and infrastructure data is collected and analyzed in real time for this purpose. Results can be used to inform users about waiting times, alternative routes or parking. The project is increasingly being integrated into commercial operation.
EU project AEOLIX: A platform for more efficient and climate-friendly logistics chains
The port of Hamburg is a part of the EU project AEOLIX. The goal of this project is to build a new ICT platform that networks numerous, previously isolated individual logistics systems across the EU. At the same time, practical services will be developed and tried out in 11 European test zones. T-Systems is participating in test zone 1: Intermodal Logistics in the Hamburg – Frankfurt Transportation Corridor. This zone will test a smartphone app that helps truck drivers drive in an ecologically responsible manner. Some 958,230 metric tons of CO2 could be spared in ongoing customer projects MAN Telematics and SchmitzCargoBull Telematics as well as in additional new projects (e.g. AEOLIX) by analyzing driving profiles and ecodrive functions. The project will run until 2019.
AUTOPILOT – autonomous driving services for more efficiency
The goal of the EU project AUTOPILOT is to test autopilot services on the market. This also includes self-driving cars in short-distance traffic, self-parking cars and real-time car sharing. Such solutions are particularly efficient and environmentally friendly, resulting in an estimated 10 percent fewer CO2 emissions as compared to conventional driving practices. The project will run from 2017 to 2019. Thereafter the services will be incorporated into regular operations. T-Systems is the project partner of AUTOPILOT and supports analyses on the feasibility and market launch of the new services.
Connected Car: Preventing traffic jams with connected cars
T-Systems has been developing and operating Daimler's Connected Car platform (Daimler vehicle backend) worldwide since 2013. The platform is the technical basis for the Live Traffic service, which provides drivers with real-time traffic information, thereby helping them avoid traffic jams. Live Traffic prevents about 30% of traffic jams per vehicle. This means that the approximately 5 million vehicles equipped with Live Traffic consumed about 6.2 million liters less fuel. This translates into CO2 savings of about 15,000 metric tons.