With eCommerce options becoming more available to the average person and the convenience of quick deliveries in high demand, many logistics companies are facing a shift in the industry away from supplying small businesses with regular stock and towards high-demand contracts through online corporations and delivery services. One-way shipping and freight companies combat this by incorporating technology innovations to improve the efficiency of their systems, track vehicles and keep drivers safe. Following the latest news on technological developments, therefore, should be a priority for logistics managers and truckers. Some of the things you should keep track of include innovative tech in the ways semi-trucks are made, how miles are tracked and ways to improve fuel efficiency.
Electronic Logging Devices
Regulations put in place in 2017 mean that shipping trucks need electronic logging devices to keep track of how long each driver is behind the wheel. This shows compliance with required breaks and can be easier to keep than written logs. Some vehicles will need these devices hardwired into the electrical system, but others can use autonomous units that require few upgrades to current systems. ELDs can also provide GPS for commercial trucks to have accurate directions and give customers ETAs based on traffic conditions. This can help you avoid construction or roads which are not safe for large vehicles as well as plot out the most fuel-efficient routes and effective detours.
Innovations in automated driving can make truck drivers feel as though they will be obsolete in a few short years, the reality, however, is that experienced human drivers are in high demand now and will be far into the future. Current projected models of automated truck driving have an AI drive the truck from one hub to another with human drivers taking over for the more complex tasks involved in city driving. This could save shipping companies from the delays of mandated breaks because an AI can drive around the clock without the fear of falling asleep at the wheel.
With the shortage of trained truck drivers already stretching shipping to the limits, embracing automated driving semi-trucks is causing truckers job insecurity and more are leaving the industry with few replacements entering the job market. Logistics companies, however, are hoping that hub-to-hub AI drivers will help ease the driver shortage and allow their personnel to log hours closer to home. Until a proven balance is established, trucking companies will continue to encourage drivers to stay while offering incentives for others to take the necessary training.
Class 8 trucks are going green with electric options projected as early 2024 and more infrastructure plans including electric charging stations each year. Many customers are trying to source goods locally as much as possible to reduce their carbon footprint, which is translating to fewer truckloads being booked. Some states and municipalities are starting to tighten up emissions regulations or outright ban internal combustion motors on some forms of transport, meaning that upgrading to electric as soon as possible will keep these areas open to your drivers and shipments.
The field of data analytics is working its way into just about every industry with these tools and techniques playing a big part in increasing efficiency for businesses and individuals. For logistics companies, Big Data tools can help pinpoint the most fuel-efficient routes, show real-time delivery tracking and find weak links in the supply chain. Gathering accurate data is the biggest hurdle for analytics, but the latest AI innovations in that area are streamlining the process of enriching and cleaning data sets so your reports are more accurate.
The Internet of Things
By using RFID chips and scanners, you can connect your moving parts to the Internet of Things to track movements and gather data. The chips and scanners communicate data such as location and speed without the need for human-to-computer or computer-to-computer interactions, freeing up personnel for other tasks. Not only does IoT aid warehouses and trucking companies in tracking goods and calculating an ETA on shipments, but this technology can also allow AI-driven vehicles to keep track of each other, stay within the boundaries of roadways and monitor speed limits. Autonomous vehicles have RFID scanners to read the chips in road signs, barricades and other vehicles as well as chips placed in key locations to be identified by others.
Many of the innovations in shipping technology are designed to ease the burden on drivers by increasing the efficiency of their semi-trucks, shifting to electronic vehicles, and even letting AI take over some of the long hours behind the wheel. Some of these innovations are causing job insecurity among seasoned drivers and more are leaving the industry than entering it. Following news on these innovations can help logistics companies ease some of that fear by letting their drivers know how each one can benefit them.