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How Technology Is Changing Work Trucks – Part I

In its earliest days, the modern work truck was only measured by its ability to hail or pull cargo. And while this basic necessity remains unchanged, today’s work truck is more than just a simple vehicle used for hauling cargo. Today’s work truck is more akin to a mobile office.

Because of the increasing prevalence of advanced truck technology, fleet truck drivers can do more in the cabin than ever before, while fleet managers are better equipped to manage personnel and assets. The main thrust behind this change has been the evolving needs of commercial customers.

Today’s worker uses technology in almost every aspect of their jobs and lives. Their work truck has become just another extension of that man/machine relationship.

The Quest for Efficiency

Ensuring today’s trucks can do so much is more about efficiency than anything else. If there’s a job to be done, any system or upgrade that helps to get that job done gives you an edge over the competition.

The idea is to have your vehicle doing as much as possible and running as efficiently as possible throughout the life of your operation. Things like hands free systems free up time and tasks for personal or professional use.

Many of these technologies are available straight from the OEMs. Fleet managers can now embed technology solutions directly into vehicles. Nor do they have to rely on unwarranted aftermarket parts.

What They Expect

While commercial customers have come to expect these technologies, their availability wouldn’t have become so widespread had they not been so widely adopted in luxury sedans and other passenger vehicles.

Commercial customers now expect technology in their vehicles that will help them manage their day-to-day activities. They want to both enhance safety and improve productivity, without having to cut corners on either. This technological convergence has seen fleet truckers benefiting from the change.

For many, commercial vehicles to be connected at all times. Today, more fleet managers are requiring vehicles with mobile office capabilities. They want to be provided with insightful information about how the vehicle is performing. Customer-facing telematics allow this data to be gathered and evaluated.

Who Stands to Gain

While fleet truck drivers may be the immediate and most obvious beneficiary of this new technological thrust in trucking, fleet managers are reaping the rewards as well. Managers are better able to determine how long the vehicle has been idling, how it is being driven, maintenance information and more.

The fleet manager of today can almost gamify the truck driving experience and reward only the best drivers for good performance. In an industry suffering from a major truck driver shortage, anything you can do to win the truck driver’s heart is a good thing.

These technologies also provide excellent cost-to-benefit ratios. Many medium-duty customers think about the real cost of ownership over the long haul. They consider what they need to get the job done, how much they can spend and how to optimize the balance between performance, cost and economy.

Changing the Game with Telematics

As we’ve discussed before, telematics is one of the largest game changers in trucking today. Several OEMs are not in partnerships with one or more telematics providers to preinstall telematics hardware and software on their vehicles.

When you are putting significant focus on company uptime, telematics are key. They enable increased uptime and safety, in some cases a real measurable reduction in industry averages relative to repair and maintenance can be realized with telematics.

Expect to see telematics increase productivity and fuel efficiency as well. Cloud-based fleet management systems also let moto carriers store data in protected databases and access it quickly for analysis.

The fact is, today’s work truck is more than just a simple four-wheeled vehicle. These mobile offices are truly at the front of advancing vehicle technologies. Join us in Part II of our series when we take a look at how in-cab technologies are driving efficiencies in ways that could only be dreamed of five years ago.

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