The trucking industry has always faced certain challenges, but these days there seem to be more than usual. From supply chain issues to rising fuel prices, trucking companies are facing more pressure than ever to beat the competition. Smart business practices have something to do with this, of course, but there are quite a few technologies that can also help. Increasing numbers of trucking fleets are being updated with these technologies in order to make them more efficient and cheaper to operate. Some of them are simply updated versions of existing technologies, while others are emerging technologies that get featured on sites like https://truckdrivernews.com. In many cases, the tech that’s implemented depends on what the company can afford; it’s usually a case of “more is more”. To learn about the top trucking technologies being used today, just keep reading.
#1: Temperature tracking and record keeping
The Food Safety Modernization Act requires trucking companies to handle both animal and human food according to industry best practices for sanitary transportation. Where human food is concerned, this includes keeping refrigerated and frozen food at proper temperatures while it’s being taken from Point A to Point B. At this point, nobody bats an eye at the concept of trucks that can keep food frozen. However, the ability to track and record temperatures over time has yet to become standard.
Why is this technology important? One factor is that it helps companies using this technology stand out from competitors. When shippers can prove that the correct temperatures were maintained for the entire journey, buyers have more trust in their services. It also enables the shippers to prove that the truck was already at the right temperature when it arrived to accept the delivery, which is important for especially perishable goods.
In addition to helping preserve food and avoid waste, temperature tracking technology gives both trucking companies and their customers access to key data. This technology can even be implemented in refrigerated trucks with different compartments, showing that the freezer compartments stayed below freezing, and the refrigerated compartments kept foods appropriately chilly.
#2: Trailer tracking
The most obvious use for this technology is loss prevention, and that’s a valid reason to put a GPS tracker on a trailer. However, there are much broader uses for this technology as well. For example, it can be incorporated into a fleet management system and used for all kinds of purposes. This includes billing for trailers that have been rented out, the ability to perform predictive maintenance, and even helping drivers find their trucks in lots that contain hundreds of vehicles.
#3: Electronic logging devices
As of December 18, 2017, most commercial trucking companies have been required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs). This is part of the broader push to make working conditions better for truck drivers, and ensure that both drivers and trucking companies are following regulations. At the heart of this new requirement is the ability to track and record each driver’s hours of service (HOS).
Why is this so important? For a couple of different reasons. First of all, some truck drivers are tempted to keep going after a long day in order to make more money. They’re typically paid by the mile, so more miles equals a bigger paycheck. The problem is that overtired drivers are more likely to make mistakes and cause accidents, which is why there are regulations to prevent this.
Second, ELDs prevent trucking companies from pressuring drivers to keep going without breaks or proper sleep. Speed is crucial in this industry, and there are plenty of times when longer shifts would result in higher profit margins. ELDs hold drivers and companies accountable, and make conditions safer for everyone on the road.
#4: Collision mitigation technology
Even though buses and heavy trucks make up 4% of vehicle registrations, they’re involved in up to 13% of both traffic accidents and fatalities. This is partly because of how large they are; once a semi truck gets out of control, it usually does a lot of damage. Interestingly, crash data consistently proves that when there’s both a truck and a passenger vehicle involved, it was often the driver of the passenger vehicle who was at fault. Even so, this doesn’t take away the importance of reducing collision risks for truck drivers.
Sensing technologies are getting more advanced every year, especially with the push towards fully autonomous vehicles. Because it can be retrofitted on older models, collision mitigation technology is quickly becoming an industry standard for fleets of all sizes.
#5: Dynamic routing
Everyone who’s ever used the maps app on their smartphone is basically familiar with this technology, but in the trucking industry it’s much more powerful and data-driven. Dynamic routing not only helps truck drivers find the quickest routes, but also constantly updates the route to account for collisions, traffic backups, or other delays. It’s also possible to program multiple stops along the route, rather than just guiding the driver from the beginning to the end of the trip. This technology saves on fuel costs, cuts down on emissions, and helps drivers cover more distance in less time.
#6: Driver scorecards
Semi trucks get a notoriously low MPG rate, which means fuel is a considerable expense for any trucking company. However, driving behaviors can make up to a 30% difference in how much gas is used per mile. It just so happens that poor driving behaviors (such as sudden braking or acceleration) don’t just put other drivers at risk; they can also result in the wasteful use of fuel. By using technology to track both good and bad behaviors, trucking companies can identify which drivers deserve to be rewarded, which ones may need more training, and which ones need to be cautioned about their driving habits.
The trucking industry is advancing every year, with technologies that emphasize better safety, higher profit margins, and improved efficiency. Not all of the technologies discussed above are standard, but given how much value they provide, they probably will be in the near future.