Truckers are traditionally seen as hard-working women and men, driving long hours through difficult conditions. They do an incredible job that not many people can do. It’s difficult, isolating, and nationwide, businesses are struggling to hire enough truckers. But technology is on the rise, and so are new ways of applying it to what truckers do every day. Technology can increase safety and job satisfaction, make processes and communication easier, and streamline the supply chain in ways that boost productivity and shorten delivery times. The future of trucking is technology, and this blog will examine some of the ways new advancements in automation and communication will change how truckers operate in the next few years.
First, let’s take a close look at what technology won’t do.
With AI machine learning transforming the market, it’s only natural that truck driving is one occupation that may be supplanted by robots. Autonomous vehicles or the possibility of driverless vehicles is an idea in its infancy, and as businesses learn how to incorporate automation into more occupations, there are a few reasons why trucking will always require a human driver. Truck drivers do more than drive:
- Truck drivers maintain the cargo: The driver is responsible for the truck AND the cargo. This includes repositioning the load if it’s out of balance or unloading it if the destination doesn’t have the means to do so. This element of customer service is something that will always be missing from an autonomous vehicle.
- Truck drivers maintain the truck: While technology can drive a truck, it can’t repair it on the road. Sensors can detect a flat tire and report it to the system, but a person is still needed to replace the tire on the road; otherwise, a unit will have to sit idle until help arrives.
A better use of autonomous technology may lie in driver assistance, so instead of supplanting the driver, the technology assists them to be safer and more efficient on the road. The innovations include lane assistance and assisted braking features. Reduced accidents from assisted driving technologies will save a lot of money, time, and lives.
For now, gasoline and diesel vehicles remain the king, but electric vehicles are starting to make important strides. However, electric trucks face two important challenges: travel range and sufficient charging infrastructure. Batteries with the power to drive a sufficient distance need to be more robust, cheaper to purchase, and smaller. While great strides have been made to create a high-power electric vehicle charging network across Europe, the US hasn’t embraced the technology quite as much.
If it can be measured, it can be improved, and one area that is always ripe for improvement is supply chain management. With the Internet of Things, everything is becoming connected. Networks of sensors mounted on trucks can measure everything from fuel efficiency to load stability. When analyzed properly, this data can provide a wealth of information about each trip, what could have been improved, how much weather and road conditions factored into delivery times, and how traffic patterns can determine the most optimal time to drive. Freight monitoring technology will provide real-time information about temperature, humidity, pressure, and possible shock and damage to shipments en route. This combination of big data, business intelligence, and geolocation will simplify the supply chain and drive innovation.
This combination of big data, business intelligence, and geolocation will simplify the supply chain and drive innovation.
While some of these innovations are years away, all of them are designed to make long-haul trucking safer for people on the road, take the pressure off overworked drivers, and turn supply-chain logistics from a cost center into a powerful asset. Trucking is a large job, and through the right application of technology, it is one sector of the supply chain that will see plenty of changes in the coming years.
At White Tank & Truck Repair, we stay at the forefront of these changes, and we continue to adapt our processes and procedures to accommodate them. For more information about us, our preventive maintenance plans, or our expertise with blower tanks, call us today, and let’s start a conversation about how we can help you modernize your trucking.