Mol CY

Smart can-bus data collection on an electric terminal tractor with a strong focus on the "edge". The intelligent collection of can-bus data, linking location data and generating insights that are important for Mol's engineering department.

Mol CY
Azure IoT Edge, IoT Central, Canbus, Edge gateway


Since its foundation in 1944, MOL has been profiling itself as a company that does not shy away from technical challenges. Active product development, an innovative approach and internationalisation have made the company what it is today: a group with 400 motivated employees and one of the market leaders in the sector!

In the context of this project, the customer developed a new "battery-powered" tractor (i.e. a full-electric vehicle). In the long run, the aim is to focus on preventive maintenance. In order to arrive at the right algorithms, we first need to collect data on how the vehicle reacts in which circumstances. In addition to the above objectives, we also want to know how the vehicle is used and especially gain insight into how the battery behaves.

How does it work?

In this project we as Aptus put a lot of effort into the IoT solutions of Microsoft Azure. We want to build a bridge between the physical and digital world, between the tractor and the "cloud". This was the ideal project for us to apply things like Azure IoT Edge and Azure IoT Central. The combination of IoT Edge with IoT Central makes the management and rollout of the project perfectly possible.

It's working the system? We've put an edge computer in the tractor that's capable of retrieving data from the tractor's CAN bus. This data is locally aggregated and maintained. Filtering is applied to certain CAN identifiers and a link is made with the GPS information which we also read into our edge computer. This information is intelligently sent via 4G to the Azure Cloud. Below is a simple explanation of how the solution works.

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If you want to know all the technical details, I can definitely recommend Frederik's technical blog post!

What are the next steps?

Because of the large amount of messages that pass by on a CAN bus, with the current connectivity it is more difficult to send these messages in real time to the cloud. This functionality would be extremely useful to perform a comprehensive diagnosis of the real-time streaming of CAN messages to the cloud. The perfect technology for this is 5G and has the bandwidth and latency to make this possible. Aptus has already taken the first steps with 5G to validate such scenarios.

In most cases it is not necessary to send all messages from the CAN bus to the cloud (imagine, capturing 10 messages every 50ms), but one does want to be notified when there is abnormal behavior. To detect this abnormal, the first steps have already been made towards data capture and the first version of the algorithm that will report abnormal behaviour when it does so.

A next step in that project is also to offer insights to the owner of the vehicle. Here we think of things such as:

  • Loading usage
  • Track and trace of the vehicle
  • Messages from the vehicle
  • Current status
  • Maintenance history

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