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Technology in the Trucking Industry: What the Future Holds

The trucking industry is an example of a significant business vertical where technology can help optimize segments of an industry while also benefiting our planet and our society. Previously, transportation mainly relied on a classic model consisting of transportation infrastructure, fragmented technology, and more than 700,000 carriers with fewer than 20 trucks in the US alone. However, like with every other industry, companies have had to change with the times. The constant changes in tech have pushed those in logistics to diversify and transform in order to maintain a competitive advantage. Today, advances in technology promise to provide solutions to some of the industry’s biggest obstacles. 

How can technology solve these issues in the logistics industry? Let’s dive right in for a brief overview. 

1. The Driver Shortage

Always at the forefront when discussing what plagues freight, the driver shortage is a real issue for the industry. With drivers and employers butting heads over profits, and the American Trucking Association having officially recognized an ongoing shortage, companies in the meantime are at a loss of what to do. A layered situation, the shortage is not something that has appeared overnight, and it can’t be resolved overnight either. Today, there are only two solutions: Adding capacity by adding drivers & trucks or making what is called dark capacity accessible to shippers through technology.

Training drivers takes time and is costly. Technology, like Digital Freight Marketplaces, can be implemented faster, and instantly solve the problem of capacity access, as long as empty miles and unused capacity still exist. DFMs like the ZUUM DFM just require more adoption, where more shippers start to use DFMs for both dedicated and spot freight. The resulting increase of capacity utilization and resulting fewer empty miles also have a positive effect on carbon emissions. ZUUM’s new backhaul finder is a great example of technology that can alleviate the capacity problem for shippers, while increasing profitability for carriers by adding paying loads instead of empty miles.

In the future, automated trucking – either driver assisted autopilots or fully self-driving trucks - are also a solution that may be able to reduce the size of the problem. Some self-driving trucks are being tested today and may be more common on our roads within the next decade. According to Chuck Price, Chief Product Officer at TuSimple, “their new autonomous trucks can see forward over a half mile, farther than any other autonomous system in the world, and that they can run during the day, the night and even in the rain.” This technology could reduce the capacity problem, especially during times when transportation demand is high, as a temporary supplement to the truckers on the road today.

2. Lack of Efficiency

Time is money, and money is time. Regardless of where you work, almost every businessman will tell you the same thing. The good news is, there are countless ways to improve efficiency at every step of the way, thanks to different technology solutions. We can see this at the ground level, such as by using truck scales: they allow workers to weigh the shipment as they are simultaneously loading and unloading it, versus having to manually carry it back and forth in order to weigh it. Saving your worker’s time and energy helps ensure that they are happier at work and makes it so that the surplus is being reinvested elsewhere, thereby benefiting the employer. Software and driver apps that help truckers find the cheapest available gas, improved GPS features, and automated freight matching are all key improvements that help further freight.

3. Legacy Tools

The few technological enhancements in trucking are often legacy tools that has not been updated for years. New logistics technology companies are emerging and are offering innovative solutions. Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, has been a game changer for many fleet management companies. From maintenance, route planning, trend analysis, and real-time updates on the shipment process, SaaS has made it possible for companies to go online and subscribe to a service without being locked in for years, potentially missing out on further technological innovation. Being internet-based increases accessibility and lets multiple parties make use of the software. A 2016 survey reported that over 60% of companies were already using SaaS, making it a welcome addition to technology that has improved trucking on a significant scale. 

At ZUUM Transportation, we believe that the future is in the details, and those details can be found in the technology that we choose to invest in. Learn more about our technology solutions here.

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