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On Our Radar: How Blackberry Redefined Visibility for the Transportation Sector


On Our Radar: How Blackberry Redefined Visibility for the Transportation Sector

Visibility by definition is, “the state of being able to see or be seen.” For transportation professionals, this definition merely scratches the surface of what’s required for streamlining operations while eliminating costs and inefficiencies. Everything is connected in some form or capacity, and the moment one part of the equation is affected, the entire supply chain can suffer or become enhanced. The determining factor between the two ultimately depends on the tools being used to ensure all parts are in motion while maintaining an optimal view of each moving part.

In the modern supply chain ecosystem, disruptions come at a high cost–both in time and money. Industry players require advanced solutions to weather the various storms on the horizon, especially in a world where theft costs seem to only be rising and cybersecurity risks become advanced by the day. Visibility in the modern world no longer entails the “ability to see or be seen” and that’s exactly what BlackBerry’s asset tracking Radar solution aims to redefine and revolutionize.

The Radar dashboard provides a multitude of visibility options for trailers, chassis and containers all through securely stored data on a cloud-based platform. BlackBerry takes pride in leading the industry as a security software and services company with an impressive portfolio of solutions designed with transportation professionals in mind. Launched in 2016, the BlackBerry Radar solution continues to recreate opportunities for growth and maximizing operations impacting every part of the asset tracking process down to maintenance.

“Radar was the brainchild of founder Sandeep Chennakeshu leveraging the legendary BlackBerry patents and engineering talent, and we’ve been able to transform the Radar BlackBerry experience and history into a new, modern solution for the transportation industry,” explains Christopher Plaat, senior vice president and general manager of BlackBerry Radar. “Radar fits into the overall vision of BlackBerry providing end-point security and effectiveness for customers. Built into the basis of BlackBerry Radar is the secure infrastructure and operating system leveraging BlackBerry QNX software to provide additional layers of security in the growing transportation sector. Ensuring technology cannot be hacked is a growing concern for transportation professionals.”

Over the years, BlackBerry has established its position as a leader in legacy engineering offering unique, modern and viable solutions built to last and overcome current and anticipated industry obstacles for the transportation sector. BlackBerry Radar takes asset management and tracking to a new level and industry leaders are noticing. Last year, Radar received recognition from American Trucking Associations as the newest ATA Featured Product Provider, attributing the offering’s real-time data capabilities as one of the hallmark features redefining asset tracking and transportation visibility. More recently, Class 1 railway Canadian Pacific announced the integration of Radar devices on their intermodal chassis fleet–2,000 to be exact.

“CP is constantly looking to evolve, innovate and elevate the experience for our customers,” says Jonathan Wahba, vice president Sales and Marketing, Intermodal and Automotive at Canadian Pacific. “We’re excited about this collaboration with BlackBerry Radar, and the potential benefits this technology will allow us to drive within our network.”

Plaat understands why the industry is reacting so positively to Radar. “Visibility means different things to different people and for Radar, visibility is more than just knowing where your asset is,” he explains. “It also means visibility into utilization and the effectiveness of your operations. We provide visibility in the way of information that is actionable that can help improve asset utilization, reduce costs, improve service for customers.”

Radar takes what customers were previously blind to and presents it along with a solution to ensure it doesn’t happen again. An example of this is revealing when other companies connect to another chassis and leave while starting to do business with another customer’s assets. This is a prime example of taking visibility beyond what’s available to view and revealing unidentified and hidden challenges. The Radar solution takes a proactive approach rather than preparing for reactive measures.

“We have customers that have seen on the Radar solution that their chassis is going somewhere they do not serve, only to later to find out that another carrier was using their assets to do business,” Plaat notes. “This is wrong but it’s happening. Knowing where your assets are, what they’re doing, and how they’re being utilized is something many companies don’t have visibility into. By deploying asset-management solutions, customers are provided with information they don’t have access to.”

Recall the industry-wide concern surrounding theft and unauthorized use in the industry. BlackBerry customers are building geofences that pair nicely with Radar devices, creating a tandem effort in addressing the issue of theft and ultimately preventing it. It’s a two-part solution that relies heavily on both ends of the solution. Repeated errors are costly and have no place in operations

“Beyond reporting how long assets sit within geofences, we provide reporting on what’s going on outside of geofences and terminals,” Plaat says. “Our customers receive alerts when their trailer leaves the yard to ensure thieves aren’t pulling their customer’s cargo in their trailer. Our reporting and alerting mechanism are very good at preventing theft.”

The reporting abilities found with Radar are paramount compared to other solution offerings in that it addresses a multitude of questions all at once. Radar is providing more than basic tracking of asset utilization by reporting the frequency a chassis is moving and when it’s stationary for a selected period through weekly, monthly or annual snapshots. This provides a clearer picture of exactly how productive operations are and how your customers are impacted. Radar also provides a trailer pool management solution addressing too much or too little available equipment, all while providing information on how the end customer’s needs are being addressed.

“This allows the effective balancing of equipment while reducing costs and using current assets,” Plaat says. “It also eliminates the need to buy more and the possibility of coming up short. Radar provides the ability to do mileage-based maintenance for customers with time-based chassis. Accurate mileage reporting found within Radar enables the customer to channel maintenance dollars where they are needed. Customers can allocate costs more effectively through identifying high-use equipment versus low-utilization equipment.”

The Radar solution differentiates itself beyond its asset management offerings. The solution offers a one-of-a-kind level of durability not typically found in transportation solutions. Radar devices boast a rugged and long-lasting hardware reputation through a self-contained, high-capacity six-year premium battery life, eight sensor reading capabilities, and the elimination of external wiring.

Additionally, Radar devices provide ease in installation combined with an unmatched and modern software nature. Customers don’t have to worry about delayed operations and can focus efforts on features such as the solution’s timeline tools, visibility tools and graphical user interface. It’s really that simple.

“BlackBerry has standard set of open APIs for customers to integrate Radar data into their TMS system or into their own PRP for providing visibility for customer service or operations or even management,” Plaat explains. “About 50 percent of our customers use the Radar dashboard while the other 50 percent use their own dashboards and reporting tools with Radar data populating those reports and visibility tools. Our software is easy to understand and provides great utilization at the customer’s fingertips that helps improve performance immediately upon deploying our solution. Those major differences–the durability, the ease of implementation and use are really what make Radar stand out.”

Radar does not forget about key pieces of the transportation puzzle, including drivers. In fact, it has specific features designed with drivers in mind, directly affecting the amount of time spent on locating assets. For trucking companies, locating assets quickly is essential in maintaining efficiencies. Unfortunately, this is an issue still very much present within the sector due to outdated pieces of information. With Radar devices, real-time updates for drivers are a major advantage that address existing problems in time management. The goal is to give back the time previously lost and with Radar, this is easily accomplished.

“Radar has a unique capability that sends a link to a driver that launches navigation to route a driver to the exact location of a chassis or trailer,” Plaat says. “This eliminates the issue of inaccurate or outdated data which in turn maximizes time efficiencies. A driver can save up to 30 minutes per day, per driver in their hours of service, which is valuable to all players in the supply chain.”

Whether it’s dwell times or the number of turns drivers are taking, Radar is equipped with the technology necessary to provide a clear picture of exactly what’s going on and identifying an opportunity for increasing average turns and ultimately, revenue. These features support the notion that asset tracking is more than basic visibility and requires a sophisticated and user-friendly approach that is not only secure but revolutionary technology solutions.

“Knowing how long an asset is sitting in a geofence and getting reports of average dwell times within an intermodal terminal or shipping facility–whether that’s a weekly or monthly basis–can provide good information for conversations with your customers and suppliers,” Plaat adds. “It opens the conversation of ‘how long is my container sitting before I can utilize it for other customers?’ which is very important for improving the utilization of one’s assets. Having this information can be highly valuable for operations and increase revenue.”

BlackBerry’s Radar solution shows no signs of slowing down fleet management and optimization in transportation for 2020. It’s clear this solution has set the bar higher and continues redefining the real transparent, real-time visibility for intermodal asset tracking. Through actionable visibility, BlackBerry Radar aims to impact every moving part of the supply chain and reinforce the role of advanced technology while improving service for customers and reducing costs.


Christopher Plaat is senior vice president and general manager of BlackBerry Radar. He has more than 25 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industry. With a focus on advanced technology solutions that help companies improve operational efficiencies, manage compliance and reduce costs, Plaat spent more than 18 years in strategic technology sales and leadership roles for Fortune 500 companies, including Qualcomm and Lockheed Martin. He previously led sales and operations units for organizations including Overnite Transportation Co. and Emery Worldwide. Prior to joining BlackBerry, Plaat was vice president of Strategic Account Sales at Omnitracs. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Business and Economics from Point Loma College in San Diego.