FedEx has 84,700 trucks. UPS has 119,000. JB Hunt has in the range of 12,000. Most logistics and transportation companies have fleets in the range of thousands. Managing every single truck in each fleet is no mean feat. With most of these trucks geographically scattered across the planet, physically managing them is extremely difficult, if not impossible.
Enter technology and a future where the real-time location of any truck can be traced, the air pressure of its tires monitored, and driver behavior supervised – all from a remote location. Here’s a quick peek into the technologies that will make it possible:
Telematics is not a standalone technology, but a combination of several technologies including telecommunication, vehicular engineering, smart sensors, GPS navigation, cloud connectivity, and multimedia services.
The future of fleet management will have telematics infusion at scale. It will enable transporters to have access to vehicular data at ground-level. For example, tire pressure monitoring sensors will stream data using 5G connectivity to cloud servers and mobile apps. Truck drivers and fleet managers alike can view the tire’s pressure on their mobile devices or full-screen dashboards to maintain pressure levels.
"There was a time when telematics was a nice-to-have. Now, [it] is a must-have.” Andrés Irlando Verizon Connect's chief executive said at the annual Latitude conference.
Did you know that UPS trucks never take a left turn? Apparently, vehicle routing software has determined that left turns were a waste of time as it resulted in longer routes. By avoiding left turns, UPS saves close to 10 million gallons of fuel annually( CNN) and has reduced accidents associated with left-hand turns.
UPS is a giant in the logistics industry and has invested heavily in routing software that suggests cost-saving routes without left turns. Thanks to the democratization of technology, even small scale transported and logistic players are now able to integrate GPS-based navigation systems into their backendx. This will pave a better future for the transportation industry where data-backed route planning will be the norm.
On November 27, 2017, Elon Musk arrived on the stage on a Tesla driverless truck. That marked the first day autonomous trucks, not just cars, became a commercially viable offering. Aside from Tesla, major truck manufacturers like Daimler are racing to build autonomous trucks that are super-efficient at navigating their own way on highways and there are no foreseeable reasons why transporters would not embrace these smart and cost-efficient autonomous trucks for their operations.
The Internet of Things has been in the news for all the right reasons. It is creating a mesh of digitally connected devices that exchange data and interact with each other through cloud servers.
One possible use of IoT in fleet management is predictive management. Trucks are heavy-weight machines that suffer extreme wear and tear due to long-distance hauls. Unfortunately, when fleet size is in the range of thousands, it is difficult for fleet owners to zero in on trucks that need preventive maintenance. IoT can solve this problem.
IoT sensors attached to vehicle parts can stream data that can be analyzed to predict possible breakdowns. This helps in preventing unexpected downtimes and also contributes to extending the truck’s lifespan. In fact, insurers in the United Kingdom have already started integrating IoT data in motor insurance premium calculations.
Although they are key components of the global economy, the transport and logistics industry has been accused of being the harbinger of global warming and climate change. Enter Electric Vehicles.
Electric vehicles use embedded batteries as power sources for propelling the vehicle instead of fossil fuels like petrol or diesel. Compared to fossil fuels that emit hazardous pollutants, EV vehicles have negligible emissions. Although it will take some time before we see them on the roads, Tesla’s autonomous trucks hint at the beginning of a better future.
The future of commercial fleet management is one that is highly influenced by digital technologies. These trends prove that we are inching closer to a future where autonomous vehicles and data-backed route plans will be the norm. These tech-based innovations will lighten the load for fleet managers. In the process, they will also result in cost savings and augment operational efficiency.
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