Photo courtesy of Phillips Industries
T/T Pair

Phillips smart socket enhances tractor/trailer connectivity

March 14, 2024
The advancements will streamline communication from trailer to cab, keeping drivers and fleet managers more informed about their trailer assets.

NEW ORLEANS—Phillips Industries unveiled a new "smart 7-way socket" for trailers called T/T Pair at the 2024 Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) Annual Meeting that the company says provides 100% reliable, instantaneous tractor and trailer pairing, "ensuring seamless communication and efficient fleet management."

Due to an embedded PLC transceiver that identifies and communicates the tractor/trailer pairing to any BLE integrated ELD or trailer telematics device, the T/T also ensures the corect tractor is paired to the desired trailer. This helps prevent cargo theft and mispulls on the lot, Phillips CEO and President Rob Phillips told the media during the unveiling.

Phillips also went into more detail on two previously announced trailer products: the Rear-Vu back up camera and the cross-compatible EC47 Connector.

These represent significant advancements in tractor/trailer connectivity technology, and the three products are designed primarily to provide the driver with more clarity—accurate data like tire pressure, wheel-end temperature, and even a live feed from rear-facing cameras delivered directly from the trailer to the cab.

T/T Pair

According to Phillips, the T/T’s No. 1 job is to ensure the proper authorized driver has mated to the correct trailer, and to notify the fleet owner and other necessary parties in case of cargo/trailer theft.

It also helps answer one question Phillips said is asked more commonly than some would like to admit: “Did the driver grab the wrong trailer?”

Unnecessary or accidental trailer pulls consume driver hours, fuel, and mileage, so avoiding them can offer significant time and cost savings.

The T/T utilizes a proprietary Wi-Fi protocol that has less than a quarter-second latency, Phillips noted. Wi-Fi also has a clear advantage at a busy terminal.

“The problem with Bluetooth is if you're in a yard that's got multiple trailers, then you're not going to know which one you're connected to,” Phillips said. “And if you're 20 or 30 miles down the road, at that point, there's a good chance you've got the wrong one. And this happens on a daily basis in every major fleet across the country.”

The secure, wired connection means drivers know exactly which trailer they’re pulling.

The device is meant to replace Phillips’ QCS2 7-way socket, the standard on virtually all trucks and most trailers in North America. The installation is straightforward and takes about a minute to swap out, with no additional wiring or installation steps. The new iteration has a non-corrosive, molded design that keeps water and debris out of the electrical systems, ensuring long-time reliable performance. 

It is also compatible with OEM-installed S7 Break-Away Box, i-BOX, QBOX, VOLT-BOX and QCS2 Harnesses.

On the cybersecurity side, due to large customer demands for high levels of protection, Phillips said the level of security on the device has quadrupled over a couple years ago.

“Security is something that we are extremely serious about,” Phillips said. “We've got a very large department and R&D group just focused on that.

Rear-Vu

Another advancement announced at TMC was Phillips’ new Rear-Vu back up camera. While there are currently numerous trailer backup cameras on the market, Phillips explained how this uniquely portable device is able to be installed on any trailer in less than 10 minutes, providing truck drivers with the same level of visibility that passenger cars have had for years. 

"The camera gives you a simple way of connecting a camera on any trailer to the tractor, whether it's through the ELD, your smartphone, or a smart tablet… It makes it so easy,” he said, adding "75% of accidents happen at low speeds in yards and truck stops."

Phillips also said the Rear-Vu is universal solution "that anybody can use.”

EC47

The EC47, released in August of 2023, is a backwards compatible Ethernet connector capable of high-speed communication between tractor and trailer. The socket also includes CAN and 4 AUX connections that are cross-compatible with the standard 7-way connections, allowing fleets to upgrade as they see fit. 

“Our EC47 has the world’s fastest Ethernet connectivity, so 10 gigabits per second, and we can pass between the trailer and tractor and back and forth,” Phillips said.

This allows for the transfer of heavy information and video streaming between the truck and trailer.

This direct line of communication also enhances driver experience when coupled with Phillips Connect’s Smart Trailer systems, which monitor things like tire pressure, temperature, and ATIS, regulator, and air tank status. Drivers will receive health warnings in certain situations, allowing for proactive maintenance and increased safety on the roads.

Read More: Phillips Industries releases EC47 tractor-trailer connector | Fleet Maintenance

Phillips explained that European trailers use both old and modern style connectors, and may have up to four or five connectors on them total.

TMC has advocated for a standardized solution for secondary connections, spurring Phillips to action.

“When we surveyed our membership, over 40%, were using some sort of second connector, and there's no standardization right now for that,” TMC Executive Director Robert Braswell told Fleet Maintenance. “This is a big opportunity to figure out a way to accommodate all these new technologies that are happening—not just additional circuits, but also things like automotive Ethernet and CAN FD.”

The EC47 aligns with these recommendations, harmoniously interfacing with present-day J560 components used across all fleets today without needing any additional adapters.

The Phillips EC47 was developed in partnership with O’Neil Components. The design draws inspiration from the original O’Neil connector, made popular in the logging sector for its supplementary AUX pins and SAE J560 adaptability

About the Author

Lucas Roberto

Lucas Roberto is an Associate Editor for Fleet Maintenance magazine. He has written and produced multimedia content over the past few years and is a newcomer to the commercial vehicle industry. He holds a bachelor's in media production and a master's in communication from High Point University in North Carolina.

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