By Robert J. Hall
The world is changing to one where technology is integrated into almost every industry and aspect of our daily lives — and the trucking industry is no exception. As you consider the future for your trucking business, here are some technology trends to watch:
Trucking Companies Going Mobile
Mobile technology is really not a new factor, but it is gaining importance in the trucking industry, and far beyond simply putting a mobile device in the hands of drivers. Today’s trucking professionals have the ability to use mobile devices to schedule routing, log hours of service automatically, perform weigh station bypass functions and connect drivers more easily with dispatch professionals. Mobile apps allow dispatchers to do their job in the field as well, which makes the task of managing drivers much easier for the small- to medium-sized trucking business.
One of the biggest ways mobile is changing the trucking industry is, perhaps, in limiting paperwork. Trucking Info quoted Joab Schultheis, director of IT development for Atlas Van Lines, who said, “If you have a large shipment, you could be dealing with 25-30 pages of handwritten inventory. That’s pretty laborious.” Mobile apps allow drivers to log cargo and inventory digitally, reducing errors due to improperly logging paper documents and limiting the amount of paperwork necessary on the road.
Greater Reliance on Big Data
“Big data” is a term thrown around in the mobile analytics industry that refers to the vast amount of data available through modern technology. Yet, in the trucking industry, big data has a major role to play. Decision makers in trucking companies and fleet managers now have access to major amounts of data they can use to make decisions.
Data comes from a range of sources, including the tracking programming, the drivers and the vehicles themselves. The presence of the data is not a new factor, but rather, the way in which it can be quickly used is changing the effectiveness of the modern fleet. Data on everything from driver behavior to maintenance needs for vehicles can now be analyzed in an instant. Dataconomy indicates that big data has helped the modern trucking fleet increase efficiency, lower fuel costs, enhance service offerings and improve customer service, all key factors in developing a strong, effective trucking business.
Another way in which technology is revolutionizing the trucking industry is through giving customers more power and information. Customers are increasingly aware of the technology changes in the trucking industry. They are now demanding tracking and quotes in real time. Customers want to be able to see where their products are and how long it will take for them to arrive.
Vehicle tracking is making it possible to integrate this information into customer-centric apps and other delivery monitoring systems. Customers can now hold an app that shows not only when they can expect their delivery, but also, exactly where it is in the shipping process. This helps improve customer service and client satisfaction.
Better Integration of GPS Tracking Technology
Many of the already mentioned technologies rely largely on GPS tracking. GPS tracking lets the trucking company know where trucks are at all times, allows the dispatcher to route drivers in the most effective way, and improves delivery times and customer service. It is connected to customer-facing apps and updates, can connect with mobile technology to keep drivers informed, and collects the big data that companies need for success.
GPS tracking is not necessarily a new player in the trucking industry, but GPS programming designed specifically for fleets is becoming increasingly available and important. When fleets turn from consumer-focused GPS technology to technology designed specifically for trucking, they are able to limit common problems caused by drivers relying on GPS programming designed for conventional motorists, such as bridge strikes that occur when GPS programming routes drivers along routes not designed for trucks. According to an article in Land Line Magazine, a push for GPS standards for trucks, requiring fleets to use GPS designed specifically for trucks with updated bridge clearance data, can help limit this problem.
Increased Presence and Use of Social Media
Social media is becoming a valuable tool to the driver in the modern fleet. Not only can drivers use social media to connect with other drivers, and family and friends, while on the road, but they can also improve driving practices by sharing information with other drivers about routes, construction, parking, dining options and more. This, in turn, saves time by helping drivers avoid delays as they deliver products or services. It also helps improve driver satisfaction and retention by ensuring drivers are connected with each other, can find the services they need and are aware of changes that happen in the field that could impact their productivity.
Social media also improves the fleet as a whole. Great Dane Trailers indicates key ways that trucking fleets are using social media, including:
• Initiating conversations with suppliers to help improve products and delivery.
• More effectively connecting and working with drivers and other employees.
• Reaching and engaging with customers looking for trucking services.
What do all of these trends mean? For the modern trucking company, they mean that technology is now firmly integrated into the trucking industry, and it’s time for trucking professionals to take notice!
Robert J. Hall is president of Track Your Truck. Located in New Lenox, Illinois, Track Your Truck is a leader in GPS vehicle tracking systems and software for small and midsized companies.