(STL.News) For many of us, trucking and the logistics industry, in general, is a hidden essential to our lives. We may not often think of it, but pretty much every aspect of our modern lifestyle is possible only with the aid of transport. OK you might say, but that doesn’t make it interesting or complicated, does it? You could not be more wrong, it’s one of the industries that has seen, and will see, some of the most fascinating changes in procedure and technology. Here we will take a closer look at some of the fascinating trends changing the face of the trucking industry.
Everyone will be aware of the emergence of Sat Navs for everyday drivers, this has made everyone’s life easier unless you manufacture road atlases. But the technological advancements on an industrial scale go so much further. Systems are using the same basic technology of GPS that can effectively plan and organize routing at a fleet level. Advantages of this include being able to alter plans at a moment’s notice, if you have an issue then trucks can be redirected or called back to base as needed. It can also be used to monitor staff, as you can see where they stop and for how long, so it’s easy to see if they are taking excessive breaks.
Safety & Security
As with all of the motoring industry we have seen excellent increases in vehicle performance over the years. Improvements such as ABS braking, seat-belts, lighter frames and more have made motoring a much less dangerous undertaking. In the trucking industry though, one specific improvement, autonomous braking systems, this is where if the driver does not respond in time an automatic braking system kicks in. The other big assistive technology is parking sensors and rear cameras to help parking or backing into a loading bay safely.
Speaking of loading bays, there has been a vast movement in how trucks are loaded. Some strategies have always been in place, obvious things such as loading the cargo in the opposite order than it needs to be removed. In the distant past, it would have been loaded by teams of men. Then we got forklifts, which cut down on loading time and the need for excessive amounts of physical labor. Now we even have automatic loading systems, which not only mean the forklift trucks are no longer required. Loading time comes down from about 40 minutes to just a few minutes for a whole truck.
Package tracking is commonplace for both businesses and consumers, and there is an expectation that we can follow the package from source to completion. In an industrial setting, we can use technologies that take things one step further. It is even possible to use GPS trackers for individual items. High cost per item could indeed be prohibitively expensive for low-value packages, but if you are transporting premium items, the investment could pay off. Not only does it cut down on the potential for theft or loss of your items, but it could also mean that insurance on your trucks and cargo lessens considerably.
There is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to shipping goods around the country or the world. There are many reasons that we could need a bespoke solution to our transport needs. Any irregular size or shape of shipments can make getting a haulage courier that can transport them at a decent cost difficult. Many operators sell space in their trucks by pallets, but if you have an item that is long but not tall, carpets, for example, you would have to book the space of five pallets to transport something that weighs less than the capacity of one. You would do well to have a more specialized setup. Carpet trucks would include a forklift with a carpet boom instead of forks and a method of unloading at the other end. You might end up considering the value of opting to build your own truck online, everything to your specifications, size, shape, etc.
Self-driving vehicles are the next big thing in transport and haulage. The debate rages on with regards to many aspects of this controversial subject. Is it safe? Safety is one of the paramount concerns. Safety approval from governments is essential and high demands are required for new technologies to be granted. Are driverless vehicles going to be held to a higher standard than those controlled by a person? We are willing to accept that accidents happen and that people make mistakes, often fatal. But would the public be able to live with these mistakes if made by a machine, as we tend to expect, reasonably or not, that a robot driver should be infallible? Then we must address the notion of liability, both criminal and in the case of damages. Would the owner of an errant self-driving vehicle be responsible for its failure, or would it be the supplier? These are all questions that require answering before we fully embrace the automated vehicle as a standard way of doing things.
All of humanity is facing up to the fact that global warming is a challenge that we must all play our part in solving. The transport industry is one that is more polluting than most. The issue being carbon emissions, large vehicles must be powered using diesel fuel as electric motors are not powerful enough. Until recently, this was true. We can see the emergence of fully electric trucks, and this could be a game-changer for the industry.
The industry has always monitored driver performance, tracking delivery times, and having ‘hows my driving’ signs with a phone number for the public to report issues. Driver performance is tracked via GPS technology, it will tell what speed the vehicle is driving at, how sharply the brakes are applied, and even how closely it drives to other vehicles and road users.