A number of operational functions can be monitored by on-board systems - from the operational status of a route (including schedule adherence) to consumption of resources, engine performance and driving behaviour. Data from operational status monitoring can also enable more effective monitoring of service contract performance.
These features will typically be implemented as part of an application integrating service schedules and route details with Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) and Computer Aided Design (CAD) technologies – to convey information to the CAD / Automatic Vehicle Monitoring (AVM) dispatcher. Microcontrollers located on individual vehicle components allow the technical status of the vehicle drive-train to be captured for monitoring purposes. Infrared sensors and on-board cameras capture passenger loading data.
It is important that different systems used for different purposes do not conflict with each other. The extent to which a bus or coach manufacturer’s technical specification allows for the coexistence of different monitoring functionality needs to be considered prior to purchasing new vehicles.
Applications for monitoring performance must be complemented by training programmes aimed at improving performance, if the ITS systems are to have any benefit.
Similarly the delivery of status monitoring information to dispatchers can be made more effective when complemented by tools which highlight changes in status - such as colour coding, flashing lights and audio.
The value of monitoring applications is increasing rapidly due to the availability of more accurate data, higher processing power, more sophisticated algorithms for data analysis - and a growing range of devices from which results can be accessed. The European Bus System of the Future (EBSF) project (http://www.ebsf.eu) showed that by combining a dynamic programming algorithm with monitoring of fuel consumption by auxiliaries – it was possible to reduce fuel consumption to an absolute minimum.
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) will also increasingly be offering monitoring applications as standard, factory-installed on-board computers.
The usefulness of sophisticated monitoring systems for vehicle performance will often depend on vehicles being properly maintained and on drivers being able to interpret console warning signals. These conditions must be in place if monitoring systems are to be used effectively.