Technology is advancing exponentially, so it should come as no surprise that there are many opportunities for how the trucking industry will be incorporating technology. Autonomous vehicles are only scratching the surface, and as the industry looks for efficiencies and improvements, new technologies will be created and applied.
AI and IoT
Most individuals have heard of Artificial Intelligence (AI), but have you heard of IOT? IOT, otherwise known as smart sensor applications, stands for ‘Internet of Things’ and is a term that applies to how nearly any product can be engineered to connect to the internet. In the trucking industry, this technology is being applied to take steps beyond GPS. Onboard diagnostics and GPS work together, as Bill McCouch in FleetOwner Magazine explains:
“Using both historical and real-time data, the information provided by telematic sensors provides insight into live traffic data, route analytics, fuel consumption and idling time while tracking a vehicle’s location in real-time. Companies can use that information to achieve increased performance and efficiency.
One example is predictive maintenance. Sensors record and organize information so that AI can determine the cause of maintenance issues before sending technicians into the field. This results in faster repairs and reduces downtime.”
Additionally, these technologies can be used when combined with analytics to improve productivity, as well as demand forecasting for routes, enhanced safety, managing fuel consumption, and service level increases.
New Technologies in Practice
Trucks.com shares how one company benefited from implementing new technologies in the trucking industry:
“TIP Trailer Services, manages a transport fleet of over 90,000 units, provides trailer leasing, rental, maintenance, and repair services. The company struggled to anticipate peaks in demand because of the natural waxing and waning of demand in freight.
Oftentimes, TIP was left with a surplus of unused assets at one location while having a shortage at another—forcing them to reject customer orders on account of unavailability. This was exacerbated by the fact that the company didn’t have an online platform to track orders, which gave them an over-generalized understanding of their order—misleading the company on the numbers they were truly losing with customer bookings.
By implementing predictive analytics, the company achieved 95 percent demand prediction, with a record-breaking revenue increase of 11 percent.”
There has been much talk about autonomous vehicles, but they won’t be appearing on roads anytime soon – although improvements in driving technology such as lane departure warnings and collision mitigation are already in use. There are fewer familiar technologies that are also being utilized by the trucking industry. One example is using robotics to aid in manual, repetitive tasks, which will allow employees to allocate their time to more complex tasks. For example, Wynright Robotics has created an automated robotic truck loader (RTL) which uses sensors to adjust its position and load cargo directly into the truck or shipping container while optimizing space. These automations will change the way trucking businesses operate on a day-to-day basis.
An interesting application of blockchain technologies allows organizations to manage transactions and ensure ledgers are up-to-date with the goal to certify that data is consistent across all aspects of the supply chain, as well as increase transparency and improve security. Created for digital currency, using blockchain technology this way is one example of technology being utilized beyond its original purpose.
As ideas and technologies multiply in other fields, innovation will continue to look at trucking and logistics with new eyes. Although we can’t be certain how technological growth will shape the future of the trucking industry, Northwest Tank Lines will be ready for the bright future ahead.
For more information on how technology is changing the trucking industry, check out these articles: