In 2016, there were about 1.7 million truckers in America – and all of them could be replaced by robots in the next 10 years.
That’s what some experts believe, given the recent developments in technology for driverless cars. Trucks driven by robots would be safer and more efficient in many ways, even if they still had a “driver” in the truck to keep an eye on things.
However, technology is starting to impact the trucking industry in less drastic ways already. Trucking companies are starting to take advantage of all the new opportunities provided by digital tech. Is your company one of them?
Let’s take a look at some of the ways digital technology is changing the way trucking companies do business, and how you can use this technology for your own company.
How Digital Technology Can Benefit Trucking Companies
It’ll be a while before robots become truck drivers, but other changes have already started making a difference in the industry. From the automatic transfer of information between vehicles to safety and maintenance updates, technology is making trucking better for everyone.
As the technology gets more sophisticated, the benefits only get better. What’s known as the “digital supply chain” no longer just refers to the supply chain for digital media like videos. Today, the supply chain for physical goods is becoming digitized, as well.
Let’s take a look at six different ways this technology is poised to help trucking companies do their job better.
1. Digitial Communication During Transport
Once, when a truck driver was on the road they were more or less on their own. Even radios did little to warn truck drivers of all the unexpected things they might encounter on the way.
However, today’s trucks can easily be connected to information about the route ahead. Drivers are now able to access information about accidents and slowdowns, for example, which helps them to plan the best route.
Communication with the world outside is also useful for things like parking. A truck driver can park more safely with the help of modern cameras and sensors to watch for obstacles. Digital technology can even suggest places to park or update a route based on real-time information about traffic.
2. Remote Monitoring of Trucks
Trucks spend a lot of time on the road and need frequent repairs to keep running.
Digital technology means a truck’s condition can be remotely monitored. When repairs or maintenance is needed, an alert system can make sure it happens in a timely manner, before anything goes wrong.
A truck that can monitor itself for maintenance can also do things like suggest nearby repair shops, and update drivers and managers of its repair status. Information on the work needed can be digitally sent to the shop before the truck even comes in, speeding up the repair process.
3. Digitized Supply Chain
Digital technology is already affecting the way the supply chain works. In the future, a completely digitized supply chain can be expected.
Everything along the chain, from the suppliers of parts to the manufacturer all the way down to the customer, will be able to view and send information in real-time. This means that when a customer orders something, they’ll be able to get an automatic update about the availability of the item and how long shipping will take.
In fact, many online retailers already use digitized systems to alert customers to stock levels and shipping times. Expect to see this technology expand into the trucking industry as well. It’s not just good customer service – the ability to swap information quickly
Expect to see this technology expand into trucking companies as well. It’s not just good customer service – the ability to swap information quickly makes the entire process faster and more efficient.
4. Automated Driving
Of course, we are a long way from driverless cars and trucks. But there are many ways that driving is already becoming more automatic.
As mentioned above, trucks can now be equipped with sensors to help with parking. The same technology can be used during the drive, to provide an automatic safety backup for the driver.
Accidents are more likely to be prevented when a truck can sense an obstacle before changing lanes, for example. Vehicles can now be equipped with sensors that can tell when a truck drifts out of its lane, or automatic braking for when a stop ahead is not noticed by the driver fast enough.
Ordinary cars are already making use of this technology. It’s only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace in the trucking industry, as well.
5. Freight Matching Services
In the near future, trucks are likely to have automated freight matching technology. This will let fleet management know when trucks can take on more freight, based on how much weight and space is left inside.
Using sensors to measure this will be faster and more accurate than modern techniques. Digital technology will also match the right truck with the right location to pick up more freight, as well as the best route to get there.
6. Communication Between Trucks
Trucks will not only be able to send information to management, drivers, and customers. Soon, trucks will also be able to communicate digitally with each other, and with other vehicles.
The more cars and trucks that are in this communication loop, the more accidents can be prevented. It will no longer be up to the drivers to look out for other trucks and drivers – soon, the trucks will also help by keeping digital “eyes” on the road.
This can also be helpful for management in trucking companies, because trucks will be able to reroute depending on where other trucks are at and how quickly they are getting to the right destination.
In many ways, digital technology is already helping trucking companies. And the number of ways in which digital tech can make a difference in trucking is quickly growing.
As the technology becomes more finetuned and elaborate, expect to see even more changes in the way trucking companies operate. With increased safety, efficiency, and job quality for drivers, the time to embrace digital technology in trucking is now.
Is your company one of the trucking companies that is embracing this trend? If not, we can help you get started – take a look at our services today.