Networking and connectivity have altered the way people interact with their devices. Today, nearly everything is connected to the internet. This represents a massive shift in the industry. And yet, many trucking companies cling to old-school methods and are not ready for an environment where all their devices are connected and talk to each other.
Fleets nationwide struggle to swiftly deploy wireless interoperable and fully networked solutions to address the needs of their operation. And this is a paradigm that has been amplified due to the COVID-19 pandemic, war, and inflation. Certainly, fleet managers have enough to worry about, yet this is something they need to pay attention to. Fleet leaders must work closely with their telecommunication partners to find integrated solutions to common business problems. Let’s examine the various ways smart trucking companies do this.
Solving Problems Using Networked Strategies
The sudden and seemingly never-ending disruptions and crises that have plagued the world since 2020 continually change how businesses leverage technology. With everyone going remote, suddenly we are relying a lot more on technology than ever before. Yet, the business goals remain the same. Fleet managers always look to optimize operations, reduce costs and risks, and improve procedural efficiency.
Fortunately, networked devices go a long way to meeting these goals. Trucking companies are using various devices to harvest data from sensors and other devices now installed on trucks and trailers. In many cases, the devices in question operate on cell network technologies. Vendors are also hard at work creating software applications designed for fast deployment and advanced analytics that provide actionable information for fleet managers.
There are many benefits to adopting networked technology and networked solutions at the fleet level. They include the ability to gather current, actionable data on operations. Systems bring data points together that include everything from equipment issues and status to asset tracking, transporting and warehousing goods and materials. Fleet managers can then generate real-time information and status reports and visibility into the supply chain.
Finally, a comprehensive networked device strategy allows fleet managers to quickly respond to sudden shifts in customer behaviors. Just consider for a moment how much changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Trucking companies must be prepared to accommodate shifting consumer buying patterns, preferences, and priorities. These strategies also improve efficiency for a wide range of business processes, increase workforce productivity, and reduce overall fleet costs.
Networked Systems in Real-World Use
Smart fleet managers understand that the value of IoT solutions and the ability to increase productivity has dramatically increased. This is especially true considering the unprecedented tight labor market we find ourselves in today. The fact is networked solutions are no longer academic considerations. They have moved from research and development to real-world use.
But what can trucking companies use advanced networked solutions to accomplish? Well, here are some possible options. First, they can use IoT devices to expand interoperability and communication between disparate devices. Networked devices can provide a throughway for communication between, say, your ELD and your fleet management software. And although truck drivers must drive, back-office professionals receive support for remote work initiatives. They can also track the impact of changing customer patterns, improve employee training, enhance safety measures, and raise productivity levels. And finally, they can help fleets and truck drivers stay in compliance and violation-free.
And yet, for all these benefits, there is an important consideration motor carriers must consider. Many networked services work by connecting to a cellular network. As a result, mobile operators potentially are well-positioned to benefit from increased networked device adoption. And fleets will need to find a reputable mobile carrier to partner with for their IoT strategy to bear fruit. In the meantime, big telecoms are busy creating integrated solutions that consist of IoT device companies, software vendors, mobile networks, process management systems, and real-time consulting.
What Role Will Telecommunication Providers Play?
Many trucking companies remain hesitant to embrace these technologies because quickly creating and deploying manageable IoT projects is a complex and time-consuming process. It will be up to trucking companies to conduct due diligence and evaluate the mobile network operators out there to see if the fit is right. Because it has become obvious that telecom providers are emerging as effective networked solution providers.
But why do networked strategies require wireless network integration? Well, the reason is that today’s IoT projects typically rely on wireless network technologies such as LTE and Narrowband-IoT to cost-effectively deploy. Advanced mobile networks provide the bandwidth and throughput required to have lots of Internet of Things (IoT) devices connected to edge computing and analytical resources.
When conducting their due diligence, business leaders must evaluate the mobile operators’ IoT capabilities considering their own connected device requirements. That way they can rest assured deployment will be fast and effective. But what types of packages and capabilities can trucking companies expect as they adopt a trucking networked device strategy?
Trucking IoT Solutions Mature
Fleet managers setting up networked strategies have access to packaged, ready-to-run network solutions. Telecom providers and hardware manufacturers have created devices and systems that simplify, speed, and scale fleet critical interconnected deployments. And mobile network operators are well-positioned to assemble, run, and maintain these fast-deployment solutions across the United States.
Of course, these are complex systems. As a result, they require experienced professional systems integrators to properly deploy. For big trucking companies, scale is of vital importance. Networked systems quickly become complex to design and manage, especially large-scale ones. And in many cases, trucking companies simply do not have an IT staff capable of handling massive network deployments.
Fortunately, telecom providers have set up consultancy operations to provide fleets with the expertise they need to deploy a cellular-based IoT strategy. Fast-deployment solutions should create the right environment for solid business use cases. Of course, they will have provisions for adapting them to specific business requirements. Some common features include:
- Fleet Management Solutions: Route planning, equipment location, and monitoring.
- Asset Tracking: From locating to monitoring tractors and trailers.
- Sensor Solutions: 24/7 monitoring and alerting for alerting trucking companies.
- Smart Video Analytics: Continuous automated scans and vehicle alerts.
Telecom companies have developed proactive and tested programs to certify and validate third-party modules, chipsets, and devices for network technologies. And they have set up partnerships with trucking and logistics providers to ensure certified networked device lists are readily available. This is especially necessary as fleets make procurement decisions.
What Should Trucking Companies Look For?
You must take some necessary steps to get some use out of the data networked devices collect. The data needs to be processed and integrated with current systems. Trucking companies need to work with their telecom partner to ensure the systems are connected and properly integrated. By completing these steps, motor carriers can transform raw data into actionable results that enable better decisions, process improvements, greater efficiency, or lower costs.
When conducting due diligence, fleet managers must ensure the vendor and telecom provider they partner with has proven features and services. They should enable customers to quickly leverage the available network technologies and the inventory of available networked devices. And they should have well-documented policies and procedures in place to guide their trucking clients through the process of adoption and integration.
Transportation companies should also expect a comprehensive, automated process to select, order, and provision a broad range of IoT devices. Integration should also be quite turnkey. Overly complex integration processes can slow adoption time and add unnecessary costs. Vendor partners should also offer services to enable remote activation and configuration of networked devices over the air. A range of billing models, from recurring to prepaid and pooled, matched to individual business needs.
Finally, fleet managers should have access to a web portal with a user-friendly interface and backend self-service tools to manage these capabilities. In the end, many companies are speeding up or scaling up wireless IoT solutions. Whether it be to optimize costs or improve business efficiencies, smart trucking companies see that connectivity is the future. Does yours?