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2017 Predictions: Four Ways Technology Will Change the Trucking Industry

Data Blocks
Data Blocks

Futurists predict a trucking industry filled with platooning, autonomous and self-driving vehicles, drone deliveries and smart cities. That is a reality, but one that is still relatively far off.

In the short-term, technology will impact carriers and drivers in more imaginable, but no less valuable ways. Here are four areas telematics and fleet analytics are delivering new fleet management efficiencies and changing the way carriers operate in 2017, not 2030.

Advanced Tools for an Empowered Driver

Telematics and GPS vehicle tracking is becoming the de facto. In-cab monitoring cameras, common in consumer motor vehicles, are also making their way into commercial trucks. Right now, video footage is mostly applied alongside telematics data to diagnose the cause of events such as harsh braking and accidents, often proving the trucker was not at fault.

But soon, in-cab cameras will assist vehicle operators – a vibration in the steering wheel or seat to alert a driver if they are veering outside the lane, or a beeping sound if drivers show signs of sleepiness, such as head nods. The next few years might also see cameras “interacting” with speed signs, other cars on the road and more to provide drivers with real-time corrective actions and automate accident prevention.

While some of these systems are not readily welcomed by drivers, the goal is not to act as a “big brother.” They bring exponential benefits and empower them to do their jobs better – giving them the ability to predict traffic, multi-task, drive safer and more. And as these technologies become more scalable and affordable in the coming years, there will be wider spread adoption.

Getting More Utilization Than the Industry Average

Is 100 percent utilization of assets achievable in 2017? Likely not, but advancements in connectivity creates many opportunities for carriers to do better than the fluctuating utilization average, which we have heard can be as low as 50 percent. And every percent gained results in incremental revenue. With GPS truck tracking technology more pervasive, second-by-second information and long-term trends are more readily available to help identify performance outliers and inefficiencies that would otherwise go unseen. With real-time job progress and vehicle locations, managers and dispatchers can:

  • practice dynamic routing and better match drivers with availability hours to customer delivery windows;
  • reduce wait time between assignments;
  • predict and address in-transit delays before a job is assigned;
  • benchmark driver performance and coach the bottom quartile;
  • see how often trucks go on the road less than full.

This can be taken to an even more granular level with geofencing for site-based fleet utilization reporting. With this data, new routes within a site as trucks move from depot to delivery point can be designed to improve efficiency.

Every minute matters in keeping assets rolling and fleet utilization data gives full visibility into what assets are unused or underused. This lets carriers get more out of their vehicles, do more with less, or use newfound efficiencies to take on more work. Either way, it increases the bottom line.

More Predictive Maintenance Programs & Vehicle Diagnostics

To improve fleet utilization and meet compliance requirements, a maintenance program must be in place. This is another area we’ll see technology improve how carriers run their business.

Having a regular maintenance schedule– brake inspections, oil changes, tire rotations and automating the routine services are table stakes at this point. Connecting hardware to the JBUS or OBD-II port pulls data straight from the engine so dispatchers and managers are able to detect and address maintenance signals before a problem arises. Having this diagnostic data and fleet maintenance histories in the system-of-record is critical to identify patterns and trends to manage service intervals more accurately. Approaching it with predictive analytics is where great short-term gains will be seen by carriers.

Connected Workflows Take the Lead in Fleet Management

The technology investment to connect all the disparate systems and processes required to manage a fleet has already begun. While smart city infrastructure – stop signs, street lights, roads and highways with sensors – is not yet fully realized, using the Internet of Things to connect disparate sets of fleet data is here. GPS fleet tracking software, engine diagnostics, in-cab camera footage and other data from the field is being incorporated into in-office systems. This creates the ultimate control center, with unprecedented visibility and decision-making support.

Carriers with smart fleets are well acquainted with the business and financial advantages they bring: predicting breakdowns, faster routing, the ability to correct unsafe driving, and taking the guesswork out of compliance. When smart city infrastructure does arrive, fleets with this connected workflow will have a head start and that will complete what is now a partially connected network.

The way the business of trucking gets done will change as new devices and systems are invented and adopted. Carriers that use fleet tracking solutions for time-saving operational and maintenance costs, save money. There are plenty of new opportunities being driven by technology advancements. Which ones will you take advantage of?

To learn more about the advantages of GPS fleet tracking, visit: Vehicle Tracking Systems

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