The Next Generation In Cab Trucking Technology

Technology is changing every day and the trucking industry is no stranger. With an upcoming final rule mandating the use of electronic logging devices for commercial truck drivers expected to be published September 30th, as well as requirements for speed limiters and electronic stability controls systems, members of the trucking industry are wondering what’s next. We set out to uncover what professionals believe to be the “next generation in cab trucking technology” as well as how Road Scholar Transport is improving our technology this summer. Here is what experts believe is next.

“In my opinion it will be about driver aids (the slow move towards autonomous/driverless vehicles in many ways) but before things get that far, we can expect to see a lot more infotainment and paperless systems in the cab,” said Alun Bain, GPS Fleet Management Product Specialist at The simPRO Group. “Electronic Work Diaries for sure and an increase in cameras (road/driver facing and for stock security, parking assistance and driver aids such as adaptive cruise and lane departure).”

Bob Rutherford, President of Rutherford & Company, looks into automatic tire pressure regulation as a possibility. “The driver will have access to a button that when pushed, will lower the tire air pressure to maximize the tire footprint for the best traction when needed. One thing that will drive this is the fuel economy of a 6×2 configuration vs. the 6×4. The adjustable air pressure will make the 6×2 more practical. On a 6×4 you have a much safer vehicle. That is my plan for the future.”

Joe Lombardo, President and Founder of Ege Avenue Associates, shared several ideas as to what he believed would be the next generation in trucking technology. Within the next ten years, he foresees “engines that run on multiple fuel types and solar panels on trailer roofs to provide energy.” At least 20 years from now, he expects “most tractors sold to have an option for autonomous operation as well as driver control.” He also foresees tractors and trailer to be “sleeker and more aerodynamic.”

While many shared suggestions, such as tablets for drivers to eliminate paperwork and data communication being sent from the truck to dispatch on preventative maintenance, Rob Salamida, Founder and President at Rob Salamida Co., provided us with his insight on the need for future technology to direct its attention toward improving the delivery/transferring of freight.

“This is a hot topic for shippers of product for the simple reason that there is a new cost factor added to the actual transportation,” says Salamida. “When a truck arrives at a warehouse, there are numerous new consequences that affect the transfer into the warehouse locations. ‘Lumper fees’ are charges that are passed on to the product vendor for the unloading of the truck contents. The product vendor has no voice in this charge. ‘Sort and seg’ fees deal with the warehouse having to disassemble a pallet skid to differentiate the product cases by UPC skew. For example, Billy Joe’s Pickle Company receives an order from the XYZ grocery chain for 23 cases of Hot Pickle Slices, 9 cases of Jumbo Dill pickles, and 14 cases of Sweet Jerkins. The economy of scale dictates that since all of the cases can fit on one pallet skid, and the trucking company has given the vendor a ‘pallet pricing’ set dollar amount within a certain mile radius, the receiver must now sort out the cases to the proper bin locations in their warehouse. Taking the pallet apart and sorting it is chargeable as a fee per case. This cost varies depending on the warehouse operation. The impact is a hidden and unpredictable cost to the producer vendor. She has no choice but to accept these fees which are simply deducted from the invoice payment. Added to that is the variable of damaged cases that are deducted and which must be charged back to the trucking company. See how complicated this gets for the Quickbooks’ jockey? The technology may come to the rescue of this issue since it is a labor intensive problem.”

“The other factor is that some warehouses will force a non-preferred trucking company to sit and wait for several hours before that trucker can bring his truck to the dock,” Salamida continues. “In many cases, there has to be an appointment made for the trucker to even enter the shipping area. With the recent growth of distribution centers around the country, the concept of hub and spoke supply systems is an advancement, but unloading the trucks and locating the contents to the proper location bins is begging the question of how to make it a better format. Some warehouses have preferred trucking firms. In many cases, the trucking company has a DC’s empty trailer at their site and loads it fully. Then the DC truck picks it up and brings it to their docks and unloads it per their own methods.

Self driving trucks, as I’ve heard about, will take a decade to fully develop. But it’s the transfer of product that will be the sticking point and that also has a union perspective to add to the mix because robots would be the best bet with current technology of scanning UPCs. Consider the impact one could have if the truck floor would slide out on rails and allow the unloading to be done downstream. Switching in a replacement floor and the truck is back on the road within a half hour. More road time means more product is moved. If you were inquire any warehouse operators as to what is their opinion about future changes, I’d be pretty sure it’s all about the time it takes to properly take the shipment off the trailer, documenting correct information, and feeding the supply chain.”

Tim O’Reilly once said, “What new technology does is create new opportunities to do a job that customers want done.” That’s what Road Scholar Transport is doing by continuously improving our technology and striving to provide our customers with the resources they need to stay ahead of pace in a non-stop evolving industry. This summer, we are integrating three software solutions into one resourceful online tool for our customers.

Software Solution 1: Fleet Complete

Benefits

-Provides Fleet, Resource and Action Tracking all in ONE place

-Immediacy, which includes up to the minute tracking and multi-dimensional asset tracking (tractor, trailer, and communication device)

-Full integration with TMW (real time status updates)

-Geo-Fencing capability (route or facility specific). Geo-fencing ensures that rigs and trailers are where they are supposed to be at all times

-Exception-based alerts (violation of geo-fence, driver behavior, unauthorized use of assets). All reports are 100% customizable

-Improved efficiency of assets (geo-fence customer facilities to quickly search for assets within “X”-miles)

-Hours-of-Service application to insure carrier integrity

Software Solution 2: Synergize

Benefits

-Enterprise imaging and document management platform, which will enable us to scan and convert paper documents into E-images that are readily available for review any time, any place

-Document availability (provides immediate document availability across all platforms, both order and customer specific)

Software Solution 3: TM4Web

Benefits

-Provides a secure, intelligent customer web portal that embodies the integration of our software with Fleet Complete and Synergize

-Enter pickups online (with a portal that remembers your history as well as receive confirmation of receipt)

-Generate a rate for your shipment (using your contracted rates with us)

-Track your orders in our pipeline (Fleet Complete integration creates up to the minute status updates)

-Obtain all paperwork corresponding with your shipments (drivers will be submitting all paperwork electronically upon pickup and delivery, which will automatically be indexed into our system and immediately available to you through Synergize integration with TM4Web)

These tools will be implemented and available to our customers this summer.

One thing is for sure, technology is always changing around us and the trucking industry is no exception. With self-driving trucks already being tested on the roads and uber for trucking apps popping up, industry members are wondering, what’s next?

Lou Ludwig says it best, “Adapt or get left behind…it’s your choice.”