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How to choose your Fleet Management Backbone

by Rob Lodesky | Mar 28, 2018

Forklift header

For many years, forklift manufacturers have been at the forefront of using big data to assist their customer's bottom line.

Many of these leading manufacturers are using edge gateways to collect data and send it to on-premises or cloud servers. These edge gateways need to communicate with all systems on a forklift, as well as 3rd party add-on peripherals. It also needs to be available in a compact and robust format. Lastly, cost is also a factor, as no communication platform adds enough ROI on its own to deliver enough value to be purchased outright.

Typically, an end user will project his forklift data onto a local server, although many are seeing the economic value in moving databases into the cloud. The information is then sent to a historian reporting tool, and potentially, a dashboard device.


On-premises services are costly, they require:

  • A local server
  • IT to service the server
  • Programmers or consultants to create the historian and dashboard services

Some companies are avoiding many of the local costs, such as local IT support and servers, by using a cloud server which just requires a cost-effective payment. Your edge gateway provider should be aware of the capabilities and needs of both on-premises and cloud data servers, and have ready-made solutions for both types of end users.


Allow your forklift to communicate!


Figure 2: Forklift


The forklift has many primary and 3rd party communication systems downstream. These devices communicate through CAN, J1939, CANopen, serial, USB as well as many others. An edge gateway platform should be able to communicate with and project this data through various upstream channels such as WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular as well as strict wired connections.

These solutions will increasingly use OPC UA and MQTT, the veritable leaders in northbound IIoT connectivity currently. Thus, an IIoT solution will require the ability to connect with multiple northbound protocols, as well as communicate to many types of southbound physical and object layer protocols.


Edge gateway platforms typically come in 3 sizes:

  • Sensor, I/O and Zigbee data aggregators
  • Mid-sized Factory Automation OPC UA enabled edge gateways
  • Linux enabled, logic enabling mini-PC/controllers

With more complexity, the cost rises quickly, with the lower options priced at around $300, and the higher options around $3000. In a lift truck application, an edge gateway must not increase the cost so much as to be less cost competitive. A mid-level edge gateway has enough Memory and processor speed to communicate to the peripherals, and to connect securely to a Cloud server.


OEM Toolbox- Open Gateway Platform and SDK

Solutions_OEM toolbox

Figure 3: OEM Toolbox Solution


The OEM Toolbox from HMS Industrial Networks is a secure, cost-effective solution for Lift Truck Manufacturers to deliver an integrated edge gateway solution for their ROI. Its open architecture allows one or multiple cloud API’s to run through wireless, cellular, or wired northbound connections.

Manufacturers can purchase HMS Networks APIs for the Azure, AWS or Argos cloud. As well, customers have built in CAN, CANopen, J1939, EtherNet/IP and Modbus TCP southbound connections. Our mid-level gateway is powerful enough to handle industrial networks and cost-effective enough for use in every machine.



Get your copy of the Connected Vehicle:

 Connected Vehicle


Learn more about the OEM toolbox:

 OEM Toolbox

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