The trucking industry, like most other business sectors, has seen exponential growth in the amount of technology available for fleets. There are a lot of options out there ready to address the unique challenges of trucking businesses big and small. Here’s a look at some of the current trends in trucking tech.
There’s no downside to improving safety, so a lot of focus has been put on developing technologies that reduce accidents.
“There is an understanding that there is a lot more ROI for the safety tools,” says Rick Ochsendorf, senior vice president operations and product management at PeopleNet. “When it comes to reducing accidents, staying in compliance or improving your safety rating, there is a lot of information that shows safety scores are directly correlated with the safety tools a fleet uses.”
Anti-collision systems have become increasingly popular and now are an option offered by most manufacturers. Unfortunately, each year about 130,000 crashes come from a large vehicle rear-ending a smaller passenger vehicle. Given that anti-collision systems can help avoid these types of accidents, a group of Georgia lawmakers has recently asked the National Transportation Safety Board to require the systems on all large vehicles.
If you’re looking for something a bit more futuristic, Samsung’s new tractor trailer that displaces the road ahead on its back, might be for you. Samsung unveiled the new truck in Argentina, which has a rate of a traffic fatality per hour. Many of the country’s fatal crashes were head-on collisions when cars tried to pass larger vehicles.
Cutting the wait
New technologies being used on the American/Canadian border and at the Port of Oakland are designed to make the border crossing and waiting to make a delivery more efficient for drivers.
Canada has already implemented eManifest, a system that has drivers send in their manifests before they reach the border. With the manifests in their hands ahead of time, Canadian authorities can better screen for risks. Trucks that need no further inspection can then get through the border crossing faster. Drivers not using eManifest when hauling cargo to Canada by January 10, 2016 can be fined.
Meanwhile, at the Port of Oakland technology is being used to improve truck traffic. The Port instituted several new programs, including monitoring vehicle wait times, in an effort to make truck pickups and deliveries faster.
“Our customers don't want to wait for their cargo when it comes off the ship," said Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle. "We hear them and we understand their urgency, so we're acting on it.”
The Port adopted technology already in use on highways to calculate commute times. Using Bluetooth sensors, the system detects wireless electronics signals and uses the time between a specific signal’s first appearance and last to gauge vehicle wait time. That data will help the Port know when traffic adjustments need to be made.
“This is proven technology for determining travel times and a cost-effective approach for determining port drayage truck wait times,” said Taso Zografos of Leidos, the company working with the Port of Oakland on this system. “If the test is successful, then it would be applicable to implement port wide.”
There’s an app for that
The proliferation of smartphones has opened the trucking industry to app makers designing software to be used on the go.
There are plenty of navigation apps available, so Trucker Path took a different road and focused on trip planning and helping drivers find the amenities and services they need along the way. Much of the information on Trucker Path is provided by users - other truckers - so growth has only helped the app become more useful.
“Our information has been crowd-sourced and we are up to about 250,000 users now. When you have that much growth, information begins to get accurate,” said Jeff Ogren, COO of Trucker Path. “We’ve seen lots of growth and it has largely been by word of mouth. It has been really neat to see the response.”
Fleet Owner put together a list of some of the most popular apps for truckers - ranging from health and wellness support to mechanical assistance - as well as a few things to consider when introducing apps to your business:
- If you want to find an app to use long-term, look for solutions from well-established companies. There’s pretty fast turnover in the app store and you don’t want to put business on hold while you find a new tool.
- Look into the reputation of app makers before supplying any data. Make sure your company’s information will be stored securely.
- Read online reviews with a critical eye and pay attention to the number of reviews an app has.
- Many apps are designed to operate independently, so if you’re hoping to integrate existing systems, do your research on compatibility.