App prototype looks to keep truck drivers safe, socially distant – Truck News

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KITCHENER, Ont. — Researchers at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ont., are building a mobile software app that will help critical supply chain workers maintain physical distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The prototype is being developed
by researchers at the college’s SMART (Smart Manufacturing and Advanced
Recycling Technologies) Centre in col­laboration with Kitchener-based Cones­toga
Cold Storage (CCS).

The app will help direct drivers serving the Conestoga Cold Storage (CCS) facility. (Photo: Conestoga College)

Each
day, hundreds of truck drivers, now deemed essential workers, move between the
company’s facilities, haul­ing frozen food and other goods across the country.
The new software applica­tion will allow drivers to remain in their trucks and
avoid face-to-face contact when arriving at a CCS facility.

“Working
in collaboration with CCS programmers, we have built an applica­tion that uses
the concept of geofenc­ing to monitor truck drivers as they approach CCS
facilities,” said principal investigator Russell Foubert.

“By
using GPS or cellular data, the system can track drivers to understand when
their trucks are within the appro­priate range, then issue door assign­ments to
drivers through a mobile check-in process, eliminating the need for them to
enter the building.”

Student
researchers Taylor Beck and Travis Roy from Conestoga’s Software Engineering
Technology program have been working on the project since Jan­uary 2020, before
the COVID-19 pan­demic reached North America; however, there’s a new sense of
urgency to deliver the prototype.

“Our
cold storage facilities provide a critical service to food manufacturers across
the country. The current situation has highlighted the importance of keep­ing
Canada’s food supply chain up and running so deliveries to grocery stores can
continue uninterrupted,” said Gavin Sargeant, vice-president of CCS.

“If
we can eliminate the need for truck drivers to park in our yards and enter our
offices to do paperwork, we can reduce the risk to workers while also making
our operations more efficient.”

CCS
hoped to have some of their driv­ers using the mobile software applica­tion by
the end of May.

Researchers
are also discussing poten­tial opportunities to further enhance the system.

“We’re exploring how this
technology could be used to automate more of the process,” explained Foubert.

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