The fleet of today is nothing like the fleet of yesterday, and the fleet of tomorrow will be even more unrecognizable. Technology is changing the face of transportation in ways that haven’t been easily predicted.
As electronic logging devices, cameras, GPS units, and computing devices of all sorts invade the cab, carriers and drivers have to adjust. No longer is “staying connected” a landline phone call away; today it’s the way we live in modern society.
For decades the trucking industry languished in a low-tech environment. Efficient connectivity and interoperability was limited to primitive mobile communication systems. These devices simply inventoried assets, sent messages, and logged performance and maintenance information.
Today’s technological revolution means that even with an aging workforce, approximately 70 percent of drivers now utilize personal devices that keep them in communication with their vehicle and the road. And with regulations always waxing and waning, independent operators and commercial and private fleets need to utilize these new technologies to stay in compliance.
More and more the requirements of the business demand applications such as electronic logbooks, driver workflow monitors, and performance and maintenance tracking. Meeting the demands of a new day requires new ways of thinking.
Many fleets have become adept at utilizing their own technologies, but still others are not quite up to the challenge. These operators outsource fleet optimization and data analysis, creating a whole new sub-set of jobs and market growth.
This interconnectivity is being driven even when the wheels aren’t rolling. Drivers are using personal smartphone or tablet-like devices to handle things like finding their next load, planning their route, or managing their expenses.
New commercial platforms are available that can combine the needs of the fleet with the needs of the driver through the use of specialized applications and services. So what are the trends that are creating the fleet of the future?
The Network Evolves
The cloud is changing more than just computing. New software-based fleet management systems are becoming increasingly compatible with personal computing devices that drivers use to manage their operation.
Today’s most popular smartphone and computer operating systems are able to smoothly run a host of fleet management applications. Electronic logging applications, proof of delivery and driver messaging are only a few of the options available through modern technological applications and services.
Devices are able to connect to the cloud and utilize any number of mobile device management (MDM) applications. By removing the hardware element, information can be quickly accessed and efficiently distributed across an internal network.
The Vehicle Evolves
Innovation in trucking is visualized in today’s advanced vehicle designs. New technologies are coming available and manufacturers are adapting to the idea of a connected truck.
As mobile fleet management system and truck manufacturers team up, the in-vehicle communications hub expanding. Now the communication web encompasses personal devices, vehicle hardware and software, back-office networks, and more.
The idea of keeping moving assets in contact with maintenance, for example, has long been a static process. With new technologies, how this connectivity takes place, how data is stored and analyzed, and how quickly the transfer of information happens is upending the status quo.
New platforms are offering much more complete mobile solutions that go beyond traditional telematics devices. Thousands of trucking-related apps are available for multiple devices and platforms.
Specialized deployment and training can now be accessed and driver learning curves are low. In an industry used to standard office paperwork, these new ways of running the business may seem complex. Fortunately drivers have always been at the forefront of technological change and they adapt quickly.
What is the Future of Trucking?
Mobile technology trends are almost always centered on user experience, whether for personal or business applications. Interconnectivity, fast data transfer and accurate analysis all become crucial factors in the fleet of the future.
As technology marches on, carriers and drivers will utilize devices that offer ease of use and convenience while lowering costs, increasing efficiency and spurring return on investment. Services will spring up that cater to specific needs, and indeed are already available. Things like freight factoring, load optimization, and load boards are continually advancing with technology.
Will you be ready for the fleet of the future when it pulls up to your operation?