Developing new technology in the fleet industry a national effort

Businesses in the trucking and freight management industries have unique challenges related to the delivering goods in a timely manner without compromising efficiency or safety. As a result, both private and federal organizations have worked hard in recent years to develop new tools and technology to greater satisfy all of these individual needs. Many of these developments will take several years to become fully integrated into operational activity. In the meantime, advanced trucking dispatch software programs and other similar services can help fleet managers make the most of their available resources and reliably ship goods long distances at a limited overhead cost.

Improving the technology fleet managers can use to improve overall operations has become a national effort with significant help from the federal level. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced an ongoing initiative to seek public input for its soon-to-be-released "Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Strategic Plan." The organization hopes to focus on three major topics for the future report:

  • Maturing connected vehicle systems technology, in which truck drivers can more easily communicate with one another
  • Preparing existing operations to effectively handle new tools such as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) services
  • Coming up with ways to integrate V2V and V2I tools with public utilities and other organizations

Here is a closer look at how the larger transportation industry is aiming to solve many of the long-standing issues related to freight management and ground transportation:

Greater safety on the road
According to Fleet Owner, a freight management publication, USDOT has made significant strides in recent years to develop technology that makes it easier for drivers to communicate with others on the road. The ability to do so would greatly reduce the risk of collisions and other accidents on U.S. highways systems. In fact, Politico recently reported the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently recommended V2V tools be mandated on all new road vehicles. The technology enables drivers to communicate via wireless networks, making it easier to know when to brake, change lanes or slow down.

"They've put a lot of effort into minimizing the effects after a crash with seat belts and airbags," Paul Feenstra, senior vice president for government and external affairs at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA), told Politico. "The next big step to making America's highways safer is preventing the crash."

Despite the positive impacts of these new developments, Fleet Owner said a national mandate may be an especially difficult process. For example, the article mentioned V2V tools face significant obstacles still, as various legal and financial costs, as well as slow public acceptance, may hinder development and full-scale integration.

Fuel efficiency
The need to reduce overhead costs is another important issue many fleet managers face in today's economy. Overdrive Magazine, an industry publication, said new truck designs, as well as greater driver awareness about the need to conserve fuel, have had a profound impact on improving the mileage many trucks are able to get out of a full tank. The magazine highlighted Henry Albert, owner of Albert Transport in Mooresville, N.C., who has been able to get his trucks to operate at as much as 12 miles per gallon on U.S. highways.

"Of course I'm using a special truck to achieve these numbers," Albert told Overdrive. "That's the whole point here. But more than that, I'm actually using the truck to the fullest extent of its potential. I'm buying into the concept, and I'm making it work."

Advancements in technology will continue to offer new ways to improve the overall shipping process for fleet managers. However, businesses can supplement individual tools by investing in freight management software programs that make it easier to perform daily operations. For example, companies can use these tools to automate the assignment process and make sure all available trucks are able to carry shipments whenever necessary. Additionally, route optimization software will likely result in long-term cost savings by identifying the fastest, most fuel efficient directions for delivering goods to customers. By utilizing these existing services, businesses have unique opportunities to meet today's industry's challenges head-on and with little disruption.