The Impact of Technology on Trucking
Trucking companies and fleet managers must incorporate emergent tech and process innovations to stay relevant and retain their competitive edge.
Traditionally, business models, processes and operations in the transportation and logistics industry have been defined by infrastructure and trucks. However, tech innovations have had a tremendous impact on the industry. The enormous amount of data generated by sensors and tracking devices and the technology to leverage them are pushing the trucking and logistics business to transform for competitive advantage.
Since technology will determine the present and future of trucking, stakeholders in the transportation and logistics industry should stay up-to-speed with new technological developments, including:
Ability to Leverage Data
The software products and systems (e.g. transportation management, order management, asset and fleet management systems, etc.) that run day-to-day trucking operations generate and store a tremendous amount of data. While older proprietary systems had this data locked in, advancements in technology have made it possible to access this raw data. APIs, web services, advanced data mapping and data streaming from the back door enable real-time data access for further processing.
Analytics and Optimization
Given the dynamic nature of businesses and complex business rules, products that leverage a one-size-fits-all approach are unable to deliver an optimal solution. Cost is one of the largest barriers of entry to customized optimization solutions. Advancements in solver technology like Gurobi, Frontline and Google optimizer have placed the world's best optimization algorithms within reach. Running complex analytics to identify what to optimize and then optimizing operations in real-time are no longer subject to prohibitive license costs.
Although a machine can be trained to handle many mundane tasks that humans do today, training the machine would require access to a tremendous amount of data. Fortunately, reams of data are now readily available and accessible. This unlocks enormous potential for trucking companies to automate tasks and auto-heal or prevent problems. AI can be used to correlate data from multiple sources, such as shippers, drivers, consignees, routes, dwell time, idle time, etc.—almost in real-time. Machines can now deliver automated decision-making capabilities on driver allocation, truck breakdown and optimal fuel stops. Chatbots can improve customer service by analyzing data from your TMS and GPS.
Availability of cutting-edge technology and access to infrastructure are some of the biggest barriers that small and mid-size companies face when embarking on complex technological initiatives. With the advent of cloud computing, all this has become both accessible and affordable. Leading cloud providers like AWS, Azure and GCP provide out-of-the-box machine learning capability and compelling analytics and visualization solutions. Moving to the cloud helps eliminate the cost of infrastructure and computing power.
- Always ensure you have access to your raw data while working with products and solutions on-prem or on the cloud. Not having access to your own data limits your capability to leverage these technologies.
- Don't shy away from a hybrid solution where you can plug and play or bolt-on best-of-breed solutions. You will never have a strategic technological advantage over your competitor if you both use the exact same product.
- Stop investing in upgrading old archaic legacy systems and relying on their product roadmaps. Take advantage of current fast-paced technological advancements.
The impact and benefits of emergent technologies can no longer be ignored. With technology driving the trucking industry into the future, trucking companies and fleet managers must incorporate emergent tech and process innovations to stay relevant and retain their competitive edge. Advanced technologies are no longer out of reach for any carriers striving to capture maximum profit from limited resources.