Smart Fleet Management Technology that’s modernizing the Transportation Industry

tyler penske
Dec 7, 2018 · 6 min read

Technological Problem Solvers for the Big Wheels — Present and Future

The American Trucking Association (ATA) has estimated that freight transport in the US will grow to 20.73 billion tons by 2028, growth of 36.6% from 2017 numbers (15.18 billion tons). Rising demand of integrated security and safety systems for enhancing public safety is expected to drive the growth of the smart transportation market. However, huge demands for freight transport are posing several challenges to the fleet operators in the transportation industry. There seems to be no escape from a shortage of trucking capacity, fluctuating fuel prices, driver shortages and increases in trucking rates.

According to MarketResearch.com, the Smart Transportation market size is expected to grow from USD 72.05 billion in 2016 to USD 220.76 billion by 2021, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 25.1%. Commercial vehicles are estimated to be the largest segment in the Fleet Management market, in terms of installed Fleet Solutions. The growth of this segment can be attributed to the increasing trend of Smartphone integration with vehicles, Driver Behavior Monitoring, Fuel Efficiency, and Fleet Analytics. Companies such as Daimler AG, Volvo Trucks, and Scania AB have already started working on this technology.

The major drivers for an increased demand for Smarter Transportation includes the ever-increasing migration to the urban areas and the demand for increased automation in terms of security & safety of vehicles. With the increase in automation, the amount of information generated from various systems and sensors increases, and collection and interpretation of this data requires strong technological computations powered by Artificial Intelligence. The only ongoing challenge in this model is that Machine Learning is heavily Data-Driven, where vehicles need to be trained to understand various driving, drivers’ condition, and their manual, human responses.

Building technology solutions for managing transportation will have ramifications beyond just better management. Implementing Electronic logging nationally means predicted reduction in delivery costs due to better efficiency on the roads for the 3.5 million truck drivers active in the US. This has an enormous impact on retailers depending on timely bulk good arrivals.

As of December 18, 2017, the U.S. government has mandated truckers to outfit their rigs with electronic logging devices (ELDs) that track drive times and ensure truckers are complying with the federal limit of 11 hours on the road each day. According to American Trucking Association, only 45 percent of the 2,300 fleets surveyed are compliant or in the process of complying with the ELD law.

Fleet management is an industry term used in reference to a broad range of solutions for vehicle–related applications that help companies manage their fleet of commercial motor vehicles, such as cars, vans, trucks, and busses. An ELD is an electronic logging device that enables professional truck drivers and commercial motor carriers to easily track Hours of Service (HOS) compliance.

Fleet management helps motor carriers to:

  • Know where vehicles are in real-time
  • Reduce fuel costs
  • Ensure safer driving by improving driver behavior
  • Increase workforce productivity
  • Make smarter decisions with dashboards and reports

Future technologies in the Trucking and Transportation Industry

Modern transportation is currently experiencing major changes- thanks to transformative transportation technologies. Although we’ve become accustomed to long international flights, jam-packed public transportation and diesel trucks that only get 20 mpg, the future of transportation promises to change all of that and much more — and it’s closer than many people realize.

Let’s take a look at some Technologies that are sure to impact the Trucking and Transportation industries:

1. Self-Driving Automobiles and Platooning Technology- Trucks without human drivers sound just like a dream, but the next big thing in the Trucking Industry will surely be self-driving trucks. Daimler has already made and tested a semi self-driving truck, which was officially authorized to operate on the public highways of Nevada. Semi-autonomous truck technology will be combined with platooning technology to further reduce fuel costs and to enable hauling of more freight more efficiently.

Platooning technology involves several trucks with a driving support system closely following one another to form a platoon. The trucks have smart driving technology and mutual communication between the trucks (vehicle-to-vehicle communication).

2. Smart cars- California, Nevada, and Florida have already made driverless cars street-legal, and continuing advances in the technology have led many to predict that the commercialization of automated vehicles is a real possibility in the not-so-distant future. Rapidly developing vehicle technology will likely change driving more in the next five years than it has changed in the previous fifty.

3. ELDs and trucking software applications (Fleet Management Systems)- As of Dec. 18, 2017, it has become mandatory for almost all trucks to have an ELD (electronic logging device) which is aimed at creating a safe and compliant working environment for drivers. It records and tracks the driver’s record of duty status (RODs) and also monitors hours of service for each driver. Technology leaders have come up with modern software that is integrated with these devices to enhance more efficiency in fleet management. The revolutionary J.J. Keller Encompass® ELogs Fleet Management System — a simple, flexible and affordable electronic logging solution — is one solution that is helping to transform the transportation industry. It is a cloud-based system that captures data from a J. J. Keller ELD that’s installed in the engine’s diagnostic port or data from a driver’s smartphone or tablet that has the J. J. Keller® Mobile app. This does away with the need for locally setup servers and potential data loss or corruption.

The result is better roadside inspections, CSA score improvement, best-practice time management, fuel use efficiency, and protection from DOT audits and interventions.

The Fleet Management System features electronic logbook and a compliance reporting solution among other functions. The comprehensive fleet management system maintains compliance with the ELD mandate and all relevant regulations and also helps to manage and control your fleet vehicles, drivers and loads via an online reporting and management tools.

4. Gyroscopic Vehicles- a gyroscopic transport concept is a revolutionary form of urban transport that is designed to replace buses, trams and trolleybuses in congested cities. An enormous vehicle in the shape of a flying saucer flies over the streets, cutting through congestion by overtaking cars from above.

5. Telematics and Next-Gen GPS Tracking

Telematics integrates improved communication tools with GPS devices. It allows fleet managers to monitor driver information in real time, including the driver’s location, traveling speed, and behaviors (i.e. hard braking, speeding, etc.). This allows fleets to target and monitor the overall success of their safety initiatives. Other benefits include:

  • Improved fuel economy
  • Reduced theft due to anti-theft technology
  • Improved customer service
  • Improved productivity

GPS saves lives by preventing transportation accidents, aiding search and rescue efforts, and speeding the delivery of emergency services and disaster relief. GPS is vital to the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) that will enhance flight safety while increasing airspace capacity. GPS also advances scientific aims such as weather forecasting, earthquake monitoring, and environmental protection.

Innovation is also helping rewrite the economics of the transportation industry. For example, according to PwC’s 2017 commercial transportation trends article:

“It will soon be possible to integrate trucks into logistics data across the entire supply chain. Advanced telematics will enable transportation companies, through cloud-based analytics, to track and check such factors as truck location, the health, and fatigue of the driver, the temperature and barometric pressure of the freight, and so on. Telematics will also ease automated freight matching. The truck trailer, relying on sensors, will be able to determine available space and weight, route, and ETA, and send this information to software that can generate the most efficient and cost-effective scenarios for moving loads.”

In the future, trucks will eventually be able to determine whether they can take on additional freight. The truck trailer itself will be able to determine through sensors its available space and weight, as well as scheduled route, ETA, and other relevant information, and communicate this data to a digital freight-matching platform.