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This September, the Lower Saxony-based technology company Continental will be presenting a wide range of products, technologies and digital solutions relating to sustainability, connected commercial vehicles, data-based services and safe and fair transport. These include intelligent driver assistance systems and autonomous driving functions, all-round networked components, high-performance computing, sustainable tires for the commercial vehicle sector - as well as a service for greater compliance: with VDO Link, Continental intends to provide fleet managers with real-time data from the tachograph in the future.

Two that belong together

With the VDO Link concept from its Upper Palatinate subsidiary VDO, Continental intends to build a bridge between digital tachographs and online platforms for fleet management. The plug-and-play solution, which Continental claims is the first of its kind, is designed to enable data recorded by the tachograph to be accessed and processed remotely in real time without the need for telematics modules permanently installed in the vehicle. "Smaller fleets in particular have not been able to make the most of their data collected in the tachograph because their vehicles did not have the necessary telematics infrastructure," said Marcello Lucarelli, head of Continental's Connected Commercial Vehicle Solutions business segment. "With VDO Link, we are closing this gap by providing an easy-to-use solution."

According to Continental, the envisioned use cases and services based on tachograph data, based on an open interface concept, represent another important contribution to the digitalization of trucking companies. "The technological advancement of the tachograph, which will reach a new level in mid-2023 with the release of the second version of the intelligent tachograph, does not only mean new tasks for companies in road transport," says Marcello Lucarelli. "Data from the tachograph offers the opportunity to automate processes, simplify tasks and even achieve productivity gains."

Plug-and-play approach simplifies compliance

Getting started with VDO Link is quick and easy thanks to plug-and-play: after installation and a short registration on the VDO Fleet website, the transmission of the collected vehicle and driver data to Continental's secure cloud backend starts immediately via a secure mobile connection in real time. The time-consuming and cost-intensive visit to a specialist workshop for installation can be omitted. "Plug-and-play is always a good solution when a new service needs to be available to many different customers with different vehicle generations as quickly as possible," says Timo Ketterer, Head of Service Product Management in the Connected Commercial Vehicle Solutions business segment at Continental. Thanks to the real-time transfer of data to the cloud, fleet managers will be able to use Continental's compliance services immediately in the future. Whether it's current positions of individual vehicles and their condition or even the mandatory download of the mass memory in the tachograph - all of this will work remotely via VDO Link in the future.

Good thing we talked about it

But that's not all. The combination of plug-and-play telematics unit, cloud backend and digital service enables another exciting feature: the talking tachograph. In addition to Continental, a startup based in Augsburg is behind the development of this service. The communications specialists at ZeKju (derived from "CQ," a CB radio code frequently used by truckers) have developed a platform that, among other things, helps truck drivers comply with the legally prescribed driving and rest times. In turn, this is helped by the real-time tachograph data available in the cloud via VDO Link.

In practice

Immediately after registering his driver card with the tachograph, the driver can log into the talking tachograph with his smartphone via QR code. If compliance situations now arise, the driver receives a message via the messenger service of his choice. After crossing a border, for example, he can be reminded to change the country code in the tachograph. But the playout of short training videos is also conceivable, for example for special load securing. "Almost all drivers have a smartphone, but don't want to download another app," explains Thorsten Stuke, co-founder of ZeKju. "We believe that the messages from the talking tachograph directly on their preferred messenger channel will make their everyday life much easier." And the system also caters to the international nature of large fleets: the talking tachograph sends messages in a total of 19 languages.

Open to new partnerships

The cooperation with ZeKju is an example of how Continental intends to further expand its portfolio of solutions for compliance in the transport industry in the future. However, the simple provision of real-time data from the digital tachograph by VDO Link already opens up many additional opportunities to simplify and optimize everyday fleet operations. Marcello Lucarelli: "We will, together with development partners, customers and startups, unlock the full potential of the tachograph and further expand the service landscape for fleets and drivers."

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Continental AG (D-30165 Hannover)