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ZF Leverages MongoDB for Fleet Orchestration

Illustration of a driver working on a laptop in a car

INDUSTRY

High tech
Transport and logistics

PRODUCTS

MongoDB Atlas
MongoDB Atlas Search
MongoDB Atlas Charts
Online Archive/Data Lake
Time Series
Application Services

USE CASE

Serverless development

CUSTOMER SINCE

2014
Illustration of a metropolis and a highway
INTRODUCTION

From fleet management to fleet orchestration

ZF provides fleet management solutions to logistics and transport companies globally, by developing hardware, software, and services to track vehicles in transit and communicate with drivers, while optimizing routes and driving efficiency.

With a wealth of insights from multiple sources including onboard sensors, ZF is taking its digital offering to the next level, evolving from fleet management to fleet orchestration via their SCALAR SaaS solution. The SCALAR Orchestration Platform will help customers solve their challenges using real-time data and state-of-the-art process optimization capabilities.

“Transport companies need to move goods as quickly, efficiently, and as cost effectively as possible. Our solutions give them visibility on where their vehicles are and what drivers are doing in real-time, what the technical health of the vehicles is, and whether there is a chance of downtime,” says Lieven Masschelein, Data Architect SCALAR at ZF.

“We’re handling vehicle data from all over the world. There’s a huge opportunity to gather valuable insights from these vehicles to help customers identify areas for improvement across the logistics lifecycle,” says Masschelein. “We can help fleets become more fuel efficient and eventually become fully electric, and train drivers to be more eco-friendly. The world is becoming more connected every day, and everyone is striving towards same-day deliveries, which rely on a lot of moving parts working seamlessly.”

"In the beginning, MongoDB was an option for our teams, now it has become the default database system of choice."

Lieven Masschelein, Data Architect SCALAR @ZF

THE CHALLENGE

Handling 300+K connected devices and billions of monthly messages

With more than 300K vehicles connected to ZF’s SCALAR’s infrastructure and 1.3 million messages exchanged per day, ZF needed a robust platform architecture behind its new fleet orchestration solution. SCALAR, ZF’s new SaaS offering for commercial vehicles, handles huge volumes of data every day, including processing the billions of monthly messages sent and received by driver consoles at a rate of 90,000 messages per minute. That amounts to 50 gigabytes of incoming data every day, and messages from onboard computers contain multiple data points that create downstream events in the backend system.

“Our legacy environment wasn’t scalable enough to support SCALAR. We needed a reliable and flexible database capable of handling different types of data in real-time,” explains Masschelein. “We also wanted to move from on-premises to public cloud —with the option to go multi-cloud in the future.”

The company required a central solution with broad functionality to avoid maintaining multiple systems. “We wanted SCALAR to be a comprehensive service offering for customers, but it was really important to keep the technology behind it simple and cost-effective,” adds Masschelein. “Reducing friction for our team was another key consideration when we went to market.”

Finally, the solution needed to align with a wider cultural shift to adopt DevOps, microservices, and serverless development.

Image of a man and woman working in the office.

SCALAR, ZF’s new SaaS offering for commercial vehicles, handles huge volumes of data every day

THE SOLUTION

A scalable and reliable foundation for fleet orchestration

ZF began using MongoDB on-premises in 2014, so when it needed a new database solution, the team naturally evaluated MongoDB Atlas. This feature-rich managed service provided the functionality ZF required to support SCALAR as well as being high performing, scalable, and cloud-agnostic.

“MongoDB Atlas ticked all our boxes. It supports all required data types, performed well in tests, and we know it’s super-fast and stable from running it on-premises,” recalls Masschelein. “It was also much more cost-effective than other solutions on the market, and we knew it would provide a great foundation for our ecosystem. The team used documentation and relied on support from MongoDB to streamline the implementation. A dedicated customer success manager worked with the ZF development team as well as product specialists who helped configure specific features.

ZF uses Time Series and Online Archive, which reduce the overall data storage size and downstream data to other services. Metrics captured from vehicles are stored in Time Series collections for current situation, Historical and Subscription use cases. This provides the latest insights, an overview of data over time, and a publish-subscribe service for customers to track system status.

In addition, the company keeps a limited amount of recent data in hot storage to be able to respond to data-related queries quickly, older data is moved into cold storage with Atlas Online Archive, where the archived data can be queried from the same entry point. The team also uses Atlas Charts to display billing information and send cost insights downstream to the product teams.

To prepare for future growth, the company has sharded data horizontally across clusters. It also uses templates and automation to free up developers from mundane tasks so they can focus on driving innovation.

“In the nine years we’ve been using MongoDB, it’s proven itself as a real enabler for our company. It helps us to innovate quickly and release new features faster, which is great for honing our competitive edge.”

Lieven Masschelein, Data Architect SCALAR @ZF

Illustration of a multi-level road junction

As more innovative technologies come to market SCALAR will be able to connect to them and learn from best practices to identify areas to optimize deliveries.

THE RESULTS

Enabling Orchestration for Commercial Vehicles

ZF’s SCALAR’s Orchestration Platform is underpinned by MongoDB Atlas — a secure, high performing developer data platform that’s cost-effective, scalable and supports multi-cloud, making it the right solution for today and for the company’s future vision.

Customers enjoy a fast, seamless user experience and can find the data they need quickly and easily. Fast access to data also means ZF customers can become more proactive and less reactive. For example, if a truck is stuck in trafic, the system can generate an alert and calculate an alternative route, or simply notify the depot or recipient that their package will be delayed.

Meanwhile, developers have a frictionless platform with the flexibility they need to adapt and evolve the solution as the company evolves. And that’s just the beginning of moving from fleet management to fleet orchestration. As more innovative technologies come to market, like drones and autonomous vehicles, SCALAR will be able to connect to them and learn from best practices to identify areas to optimize deliveries.

“In the nine years we’ve been using MongoDB, it’s proven itself as a real enabler for our company,” says Masschelein. “It helps us innovate quickly and release new features faster, which is great for honing our competitive edge. In the beginning, MongoDB was an option for our teams, now it has become the default database system of choice.”

MongoDB Atlas supports multiple use cases at SCALAR, and Masschelein is excited to incorporate new releases into the company’s ecosystem. “I’m interested in looking at Atlas stream processing and learning how to stream MongoDB data to our Data Lakehouse, this will simplify the way we ingest data in our Lakehouse. The goal is to have qualitative data in the Lakehouse for reporting and analytical use cases in a fast and cost-effective way.” concludes Masschelein.

“MongoDB Atlas is the database of choice for multiple use cases, it’s a great ecosystem and we’re excited by the steady stream of new releases.”

Lieven Masschelein, Data Architect SCALAR @ZF

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