Thousands of trucks carry goods from A to B every day on German motorways. Professional gangs are targeting them – the number of roadside robberies has steadily increased over the last few years. In Germany alone, the damage amounts to billions.
Not only the loaded cargo, but often the fuel from the tank is stolen, too – so-called “Fuel Theft”. This is what the Daimler Digital Solutions and Services team wanted to address: A solution to effectively prevent Fuel Theft.
Additionally, the project was the start and initial test for an internal innovation process newly developed by Daimler. The “Innovation Funnel” is build on three phases, in which ideas can be generated, tested and implemented quickly. For this first project within the Innovation Funnels Intuity was not only responsible for the conceptual development of the service and a rapid prototype implementation of the ideas developed – but also served as a consultant with many years of experience in the planning and implementation of innovation and change processes.
“Additional hardware is simply too expensive.”
The team, consisting of Daimler and Intuity colleagues, started to work on an intelligent fuel cap that would sound the alarm as soon as an unauthorized person gets to work on the truck’s tank. Within a week, the concept and a working prototype for the hardware and related app was developed. The aim was to create a first, tangible and therefore easy-to-understand result as quickly as possible, which then could be tested immediately with selected, genuine users.
Indeed, customer feedback turned out to be enormously important. The team realized that a dedicated hardware for an alarm system would be too expensive and inadequate. They could rethink and develop a new strategy without losing much time.
Two new questions were central: Could technology be used to detect a theft that already in the vehicle? And: What happens when the alarm is triggered?
The solution is both elegantly simple and technologically complex. Intuity relied on its experience and know-how in Data Analysis and Machine Learnung.
The developed system accesses the visual sensors which are already installed in the truck and combines the various image information into a coherent data stream. Through image analysis and machine learning, the algorithm evaluates the incoming data and can detect unauthorized persons and suspicious activity. Not only the tank but the entire vehicle is monitored, and therefore the cargo, fuel and the driver are protected against attacks – without having to install new hardware and technology in the truck.
“An alarm is pointless – nobody comes and helps!”
At the same time, it was clear that reliable and comprehensive theft detection could only be one part of the whole service. The alarm is triggered – but what happens then? The customer feedback showed clearly that the drivers themselves would not intervene or stop the intruder – too dangerous. Together with the Daimler team, Intuity developed a comprehensive service concept that goes beyond the mere monitoring of fuel and includes solutions to related issues and questions.
The “Fuel Theft” project was a complete success within the Daimler Innovation Funnel and is now in current development. The process shows how quick results can be implemented within a very short time and how ideas and concepts can be verified and iterated at an early stage.