How Technology is Changing the Trucking Industry
While many people outside of the industry consider trucking to be “old school,” nothing could be further from the truth. This isn’t a surprise to you. Technology has been making waves for years, but lately it’s starting to feel like the trucking industry is about to see a flood of technology that will (hopefully) help you better manage your fleets, reduce costs and increase profits.
We’re not talking “uber-for-trucking”. We’re talking about tools that will give you an edge and take back some of those hard earned dollars.
With each passing year, new technology makes its way into millions of trucks that roam the nation’s highways. For example, at FR8Star, we’re devoted to providing advanced technology for finding loads, optimizing schedules, and managing dispatch. We’ve seen these features impact other parts of day-to-day business. When you’re spending less time on dispatch, you have more time to actually manage the business.
While there’s no way of knowing what the future holds, the trucking industry is sure to take full advantage of any technology that can improve efficiency, boost safety, and of course, help companies save money.
We’re going to make a few predictions. Here are five technologies to keep an eye on in the months and years to come:
1. Safety Technology
Every trucking company and truck driver is concerned with safety. Keeping your safety rating at a good spot is crucial to recruiting great drivers, securing loads in the future and keeping legal costs down.
When it comes to highway safety, the whole country has placed a big spotlight on safety in the trucking industry. Our prediction is that we will start to see enhanced safety technology beyond what we’ve ever seen before.
We’re already seeing advanced safety systems in place. For example, collision avoidance systems, lane departure warnings, and cameras are becoming commonplace.
With market penetration of advanced safety technologies relatively low, there is plenty of room for growth in the years to come. Our hunch is that you’ll see an increase in safety technology from existing companies and new startups. We don’t think it’s as simple as getting rid of drivers and making trucks automatic. Instead, we believe companies are going to spend more time and energy giving drivers the tools and resources they need to drive safely.
2. Fuel Efficiency
Is there a way to use technology to improve fuel efficiency? To date, the answer has been “maybe.” Fortunately, a growing number of companies are tackling this task, realizing that it’s a major problem that continues to plague the industry.
With constantly fluctuating fuel costs, the ability to improve fuel efficiency could generate thousands of dollars in savings per truck, per year. Advanced ELDs are going to help fleets manage drivers’ fuel efficiency and take necessary action. That’s an obvious gain for fleets, but there’s more to fuel efficiency than just knowing if your driver is driving responsibly.
You need to have the time and ability to train drivers on best practices. If your dispatch team is using technology to spend less time finding loads and checking driver location, they may have more time to coach drivers on fuel efficient driving techniques.
When you take into consideration that many companies have hundreds or thousands of trucks on the road at a given time, savings can quickly add up. We’re looking forward to seeing fuel consumption drop over the coming years. (If you haven’t seen Matt Kropp’s article on reducing costs, you should definitely take a look!)
3. Invoicing and Payroll
The faster you get paid, the faster you can pay your drivers. But it’s never quite this simple and technology hasn’t really done enough in the past to streamline the whole exchange “money” thing in the industry.
We’re quickly seeing progress in this area and we firmly believe we’re just touching the tip of the iceberg. Regardless of how you pay your drivers (by the mile, by the load, etc.), you’re going to have access to affordable (and even free!) tools that make this much, much easier.
If you haven’t started looking into this, it’s time! According to SurePayroll, “roughly 40 percent of small businesses incur an average of $845 a year in IRS penalties.” Without the right payroll system, small businesses, including those in the trucking industry, often make mistakes that cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
But it’s not just paying the drivers. As a fleet owner, you need to be able to invoice shippers and brokers as quickly as possible. Technology is going to make the process from finding a load to invoicing the broker and collecting those funds will soon be automated. This isn’t something that’s going to take years – we’re talking months. Great minds are already working on it.
4. Driver Risk Management
Driver management is a question of efficiency, safety, and liability. Our industry relies so heavily on trust – and that won’t change. But technology can make the relationship a bit easier to manage. This is an area in which many trucking companies are devoting more time, money, and resources.
In short, companies need to know what their drivers are doing when they are behind the wheel. Taking this one step further, they need to know which changes will have the biggest impact on driver safety.
This type of technology is designed to do two things:
- Improve driver behavior.
- Assess liability in the event of an accident.
With the right system in place, trucking companies can teach drivers how to remain safe while on the road. They can also use the technology to reduce vehicle damage, as well as costs associated with workers’ compensation.
In 2014 alone, nearly 4,000 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal accidents. This doesn’t take into consideration those in which people were injured.
With data like this, there is no doubt that driver risk management technology has a place in the trucking industry.
5. Electronic Logging
Do you remember the days when truck drivers used pencil and paper to log their miles? Oh wait, for many of our drivers on the road, this is still the standard mode used today. We’re going to avoid the whole conversation on regulation and just say this – Like, love it, or hate it – Electronic Logging is here to stay. In the long-run, your fleet will likely be better off for it. There are many benefits and features of this technology, including:
- More accurate reporting.
- Ability to conduct more efficient log audits.
- GPS tracking.
- Idle time tracking.
- Fuel tax reporting.
Electronic logging is one of the fastest growing technologies in the trucking industry. In the coming months, you’re going to hear news on the endless ways ELDs will be more than just an ELD.
What does this mean for fleets?
The trucking industry is going to change. It’s been a long-time coming and there’s not a whole lot you can do other than figuring out the best ways to leverage these technologies to increase your revenue and lower your costs.
What do you think? Did we miss something important? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.