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The Marriage of Trucking and Technology

As information technology continues to permeate every part of a trucking fleet’s operations, many are wondering how far the integration will go. With talks of self-driving trucks and highly advanced digital truck systems, how will the truck, driver, and fleet co-exist in this brave new world of technological change?

Fortunately, companies are stepping forward and proving that the marriage between trucking and technology doesn’t have to be an unhappy one. From trailer detention management to in-cab navigation, video and driver hiring, technology is a tool that can be used for good. Here’s how trucking is utilizing technological tools to enhance fleet operations.

Trailer and Cargo Management

With the onset of apps and third-party companies dedicated to helping fleets increase efficiency, new methods are streamlining operations. One area of improvement is in trailer tracking and detention.

New tools have been developed that allow fleets to integrate the data they receive from various operating systems. Getting instant and accurate data on where their trailers are at any given moment allows fleets to drive down trailer retention.

In many cases the goal is not to increase the ability to charge detention fees, but rather to get trailers back on the road as quickly as possible. By using integrated software systems, fleet managers are able to eliminate some of the manual work necessary to validate various pieces of data.

The goal is to be able to send a truck driver to where the trailer will be and know it will be empty. By better utilizing existing equipment, there isn’t a need to dedicate valuable dollars to buying more.

One company has even developed an app that fleets and truck drivers can use to find loads when a trailer is somewhat empty. By leveraging technology to increase freight efficiency, commerce gets done faster and cheaper.

In-Cab Navigation and Video

The rise of GPS technology and in-cab navigation devices are allowing fleets to find the most efficient, effective routes available with a mere touch of a button. Having a digital navigation feature adds a higher level of capability to a truck.

Studies of in-cab navigation have shown that fleets are able to increase on-time delivery by as much as 15 percent. Out-of-route miles have been reduced by up to 6 percent and truck route violation by 7 percent.

As the technology matures, truck drivers will be able to access “one-button” navigation systems that allow them to input a destination without having to manually key in the address. By integrating back-office functions with a technological component, location information can be pre-loaded into a device.

In-cab video functions have revolutionized accountability and compliance. Lane assist systems, adaptive cruise control, and collision avoidance systems all have the capability to trigger in-cab video systems, which allows for a more immersive level of training and truck driver development.

Adopting video systems has been shown to reduce overall risk scores, decrease speeding, driver distractions, short following distances and seat belt violations. Video systems also allow for constant interaction with drivers and recognition for a job well done.

Effective Hiring Practices

We’ve all heard about the truck driver employment squeeze. Part of the problem is not just finding truck drivers, but in utilizing effective hiring practices that are designed to attract and retain top talent. As we’ve reported on in the past, online and in-house recruiting and training videos are designed to do just that.

The keys to driver retention are effective training, compelling company culture, and appealing driver pay and recognition programs. Through the use of data mining, fleets are better able to allocate resources where they are needed most. Social media allows carrier HR departments to develop an online presence that attracts today’s youth, the drivers of tomorrow.

Self-paced, web-based training platforms allow truck drivers to utilize a fully integrated, automated approach to skills and compliance training. This is a huge paradigm shift from ten or fifteen years ago, when truck driver training was no more than a packet of papers and a human trainer.

The key thing to note is that trucking and technology are obvious bedfellows. Jobs need not be threatened, merely enhanced. Processes need not be chucked into the muck, merely made more efficient. By properly utilizing technological tools, the fleets of today are evolving into the fleets of tomorrow.

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