For most people outside of the trucking industry, there doesn’t seem to be much to it. It’s just lots of guys and gals driving big trucks full of stuff up and down the interstates, right? Wrong. So wrong. Today’s trucking industry is a $676 billion business, with 3.5 million drivers moving more than 10 billion tons of freight every year. More than 7 million Americans work together to drive, service, navigate, monitor, manufacture, fuel, accessorize, promote, load, and do much more. The trucking business is big, and it’s booming thanks in part to incredible advances in trucking technology. In fact, high-tech advances are changing the trucking industry, creating efficiencies, enhancing safety, and getting freight where it needs to be more quickly than ever.
Electronic logging devices
An electronic logging device, or ELD, is a new technology that was recently mandated by the government for implementation in all over-the-road trucks. These fully-electronic devices synchronize with a truck’s engine to record the truck’s (and driver’s) driving time. The purpose of the ELD is to ensure that the number of hours a driver operates the truck is within safety parameters. With the electronic integration, tracking and sharing this data is instant and easier than ever.
Fleet management software
While individual owner-operators may have only one truck to manage and maintain, some fleets own thousands of them. Luckily, most trucking companies use fleet management software to keep track of their trucks’ service records, warranties, operations, and much, much more. Some of these platforms, including FleetPal Connect, also provide software for truck repair shops. This integration syncs the records of the repair shops with those of owners whose trucks that have been serviced, providing a holistic and accurate picture of each individual unit.
GPS navigation and tracking
With today’s advancements in geographic positioning systems (GPS), the manager of a fleet of 5,000 or so trucks can visualize exactly where every truck in his or her fleet is located at any time. Now, if a truck has broken down on an isolated stretch of road where there’s no cell service, a fleet manager can immediately locate the vehicle to send rescue and repair assistance. GPS also offers advantages for logistics managers, who can easily pinpoint the location of any truck in a fleet that happens to be closest to a load that needs to be picked up quickly. For the driver, enhanced GPS navigation systems help not only with directions to the next destination, but can also alert them to accidents, construction, or other issues that might slow them down and delay arrival times.
Trucking safety devices
Big trucks are being retrofit or manufactured with safety devices that are becoming the norm in today’s passenger vehicles. Back-up cameras, anti-collision warnings, and sensors that monitor drivers’ driving behaviors are all contributing to making driving safer for every driver on the road today.
Low-tech, but high-touch
Eighteen-wheelers may have gone high-tech, and automated trucks may be just around the corner, but for now, big trucks still need to be operated by well-trained, licensed, human drivers. In fact, a mounting shortage of truck drivers is one of the most crucial challenges facing today’s trucking industry. Companies are hiking wages and offering sign-on bonuses to attract new, younger drivers to man new trucks and replace retiring drivers. The United States isn’t the only country to face this crisis, though. Australia is also experiencing a shortage of truck drivers, even though courses like those at the Truck Driving School in Brisbane offer a variety of truck driving licenses that take only one day to achieve.
With our increased reliance on online shopping, it’s safe to say the trucking industry will always be around. The evolution of technology is making trucking much safer than before. So if you’re interested in becoming a driver or operator of a trucking service, there couldn’t be a better time to start.