From snail's pace supply chains to hiring crises, the transportation industry has had a tough couple of years. Part of these challenges have been exacerbated by the fact that the industry as a whole is late to the tech game. Relying on outdated technology isn't an option anymore, and everything from fleet operations to vehicle management is getting an upgrade. Here are the six key innovations that are ready to accelerate progress in this vital industry.
The tools have existed for a while, but one company called TruckX has finally made them affordable and accessible for fleets of all sizes. Planning and optimizing routes means huge benefits for both drivers and fleet managers. First, it means key avoidance of congested areas, planning driver breaks to not be on the road at peak hours and scoring greater accuracy for on-time arrivals. Done based on static data, this has a moderate level of accuracy. New tools use real time streaming data, straight into the cab, so drivers don't have to guess or second guess, but can adapt on the go to ensure timely operations.
Speaking of drivers, these are the people who get the work done: and they're human. Trucking has long been an industry that attracts tough employees with great work ethics, but even they have limits. Drivers who get tired on the road may be less alert, which leaves a huge margin for error and risk. Until Smart Trucks are here (it will be a while), new vehicle proximity alerts can be enabled through sensors installed on a vehicle. This addresses not just what happens if a driver isn't paying close attention, but provides visibility into things that can't even be seen, such as stops several cars ahead. Drivers can get the alert and pump the brakes before it's too late.
Heavy trucks and transport vehicles are immensely valuable and subject to significant wear and tear. The entire supply chain for transporting goods relies on vehicles being in good repair. Sensors also play a role here. TruckX, for instance, has sensors that can monitor engine performance and vehicle efficiency, providing alerts back to operational headquarters if something on a vehicle is in disrepair. This mitigates major issues, detecting things that a typical driver wouldn't notice, and ensuring that repairs can occur before breakdowns.
As the world goes green, the concern over large fleets goes up. However, the feasibility of removing these essential vehicles from the road is virtually nil. What is possible is making them more efficient and effective. This is achieved in part by things like route planning and vehicle maintenance alerts, but asset tracking can go beyond even those functions. Dash cams, sensors, in-cab WiFi, and more make it possible to gather data on the performance of an entire fleet, enabling owners and operators to identify inefficiencies and streamline practices. If regulations continue to be passed on both the federal and state levels, this kind of monitoring will be increasingly important to achieve regulatory compliance.
A salient example of the value of goods tracking is in the transport of refrigerated medicines. New tech makes it possible not just to have temperature control, but to see the temperature in real time directly from the cab. Cameras in and around a vehicle provide real time evidence of when goods were loaded, how they were handled, when they were offloaded and more. Both of these components work in tandem to keep items safe in transit, and achieve a high level of visibility if anything should go wrong.
Most of the features listed above are technologies made possible in on-the-road scenarios through IoT. ELD compliance, dashcam use, tracking assets, sensors, and more make it possible now to monitor driver behavior, track goods, and keep the roads safe and efficient. As more fleets make these strategic upgrades, it is possible to envision a world of more streamlined and effective transport.
Even if the transportation industry was late to adopt new technology, it is quickly catching up. Graduating from paper-based systems to an elite assembly of well-equipped vehicles is a matter of progress, and one in wide scale motion nationwide. Companies like TruckX are doing a good job of retaining what is positive about the trucking industry, while adding novel uses of technology that make it easier, safer and faster to be on the go.