The Internet of Things (IoT) is driving innovation in many industries, and trucking is no exception. As more and more fleets implement these connected devices, the industry as a whole is changing for the better.
An estimated 42% of U.S. fleets today use IoT technology, and that number continues to grow. Before long, these devices will have reshaped the way trucking works. They already have in many companies. Here are six important ways this transformation is shaping the future of the trucking industry.
Real-time location tracking
The main advantage of IoT is that its interconnectivity provides real-time access to various data points. In trucking, one of the most important use cases for this real-time data is location tracking.
IoT tracking systems provide fleet managers with full transparency on where each truck is at any given time. They can then use this information to provide real-time updates to customers and shipping partners, keeping all parties informed of updates and delays. This allows for more efficient route planning and communication with logistics partners and can improve customer satisfaction.
These location updates also allow trucking companies to see potential disruptions as they arise. They can then adapt as needed to avoid larger supply chain issues. Considering that there were over 11,000 supply chain disruptions in 2021 alone, this idea becomes increasingly crucial.
Shipment Quality Monitoring
IoT devices also allow trucking companies to monitor the quality of their shipments. Some products, such as pharmaceuticals and fruits and vegetables, can easily expire during shipping if equipment malfunctions. Real-time updates from IoT sensors can alert stakeholders to these errors, informing prompt actions to prevent deterioration.
Connected temperature sensors are some of the best examples. If these devices detect that temperatures inside a refrigerated trailer drop beyond a certain threshold, they can alert drivers and fleet managers. They can then adjust their route to deliver their chilled goods to a closer location before they spoil.
These adjustments can cause disruption, but the savings from waste disposal more than compensate. Installing these systems can also provide assurance to customers with sensitive products, helping trucking companies win more business.
Improving maintenance practices is another important way the IoT is reshaping trucking. IoT sensors can monitor vehicles through vibration analysis, temperature sensing, or fluid sampling. This analysis reveals the evolution of maintenance issues before they lead to costly breakdowns.
This practice, called predictive maintenance, allows fleets to create more efficient and proactive repair schedules. Early warnings from IoT sensors prevent outages and keep maintenance costs low, while the needs-based approach eliminates unnecessary downtime from unnecessary repairs. Fleets can then reduce maintenance expenses as much as possible while maximizing vehicle performance.
As IoT device technology improves, these sensors will be able to detect maintenance issues earlier and more accurately. Fleets will be able to achieve previously unattainable levels of uptime and ensure their vehicles remain in peak condition for years. Some of their biggest expenses will drop dramatically, resulting in huge profits.
Data from truck fleet IoT systems can also help logistics companies optimize their routes. Real-time traffic data and vehicle locations can help fleet managers see if an alternate route would lead to faster delivery. Feeding this data into artificial intelligence (AI) analysis models could reveal even more efficient route changes.
Fleets could also benefit from longer-term improvements through the analysis of this IoT data. Over time, trends will appear in location and delivery time records. These trends can reveal if common routes are ineffective and if there are better alternatives, allowing for continuous improvements.
As trucking companies optimize their routes, they improve customer satisfaction, which leads to increased business. They will also reduce running expenses by minimizing fuel consumption, which will also help businesses become more environmentally friendly.
Driver Safety Monitoring
Just as the IoT allows fleets to monitor their vehicles and shipments, it also allows them to verify drivers. This information can help trucking companies empower their employees and ensure they drive safely.
Today, many telematics systems default to tracking dangerous driving behavior, including hard braking, speeding and sharp cornering. When they detect these dangers, they can alert fleet managers, letting them know which drivers are adopting dangerous habits. They can then correct those actions, ensuring the safety of truckers and others on the road.
Other IoT safety tools include in-cab cameras to enforce seat belt use and ignition locks that require drivers to pass breathalyzer tests to drive. These systems encourage safer behavior, minimize fleet liabilities and prevent potentially fatal accidents. As more companies implement them, transportation as a whole will become safer.
Simplified regulatory compliance
IoT systems can also make it easier for trucking companies to ensure regulatory compliance. Labor issues such as working hours and breaks can be difficult to manage in long-haul trucking, given the long shifts of single employees. IoT tracking makes it easy.
Telematics solutions can provide an easily accessible digital record of when drivers are active, and when and for how long they stop. This provides accurate data on how long drivers work and how often they take breaks. Collecting these records automatically through IoT networks eliminates the hassle of manually recording breaks and tracking working hours.
Digitizing these processes makes it easier to ensure that companies comply with labor standards and gives managers more time to focus on other tasks. Office workers spend a third of the working year on administrative tasks like this, so automating them through the IoT can yield impressive time savings.
IoT is revolutionizing the trucking industry
These six changes are not a definitive list of the ways the IoT is reshaping the trucking industry. As technology improves and adoption increases, new use cases and benefits will emerge, leading to further enhancements. While many fleets have already transformed with IoT, the industry has probably only scratched the surface of the potential of these technologies.
Over the next few years, the implementation of IoT will move from a strategic advantage to a necessity. These connected technologies are revolutionizing the industry. Those who fail to take advantage of this in the future could quickly fall behind the competition.
This article originally appeared in Source Today.