How Technology Is Driving Trucks For The Logistics Industry

The global third party logistics (3PL) industry is expanding significantly as pointed out by a recent research report by Global Market Insights, Inc. They project that the industry is set to exceed USD 1,100 billion by 2024 . One hardly need wonder why.

Each shipment is critical and intricately linked in the value chain. Manufacturing is getting leaner and inventory, just-in-time. Data is being acknowledged as a key driver. This is leading shippers and 3PL providers to collect, transmit and analyze an increasing amount of information to make data-driven decisions, increase asset utilization, improve efficiency and decrease volatility. This is leading to an increasing amount of technology to be installed on Class 8 trucks (the largest over-the-road equipment). These innovations can improve safety and limit the impact of human error in transportation. Here are the top seven technology solutions making their way to the most common trucks.

  1. Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Braking: Trucks can use forward-looking radar that enables them to maintain adequate distance from the vehicle ahead and automatically adjust their speed. The system allows the truck to automatically reduce throttle, cut the engine’s driving force and apply up to one-third of the foundation brakes to maintain the gap.

  2. Lane Departure Warning: This is a vision-based system powered by a camera that triggers a verbal warning if the driver strays into another lane.

  3. Collision-Mitigation System: Radar, lasers and cameras operate in tandem to mark the distances of the vehicles both in front and behind. The system alerts the driver, and even if the driver doesn’t slow down, the system has the ability to use up to two-thirds of the foundation brakes’ overall power.

  4. Right-Side Object Detection Sensor: In countries where truck drivers sit on the left side of the cab, a radar can set off a combination of audio and visual warnings to let the driver know what is in their blind spot.

  5. Electronic Stability Control: All new trucks in the US are mandated to be equipped with stability system that minimizes the instances of vehicle rollover, jackknife or loss of control. If the system detects that a vehicle is reaching its critical stability threshold, the technology intervenes by automatically reducing engine torque, applying the engine brake and activating the necessary wheel end brakes.

  6. Telematics Devices: These transmit hundreds of data points as the truck cruises along the highway: drivers’ hours-of-service, fuel tax report, health of major mechanical components, behavior of the driver and more. Cumulatively, this data will facilitate decision-making that enhances safety and optimal use of the truck.

  7. In-Dash Cameras: Can be used to monitor driver behavior and record what is happening on the road. In addition to helping improve driver performance, the cameras can be used to examine the root cause of a crash. Eventually this data will enable insurance companies to set insurance premiums and even settle claims faster

The potential of data collected from hundreds of thousands of trucks crisscrossing the country is tremendous, especially as it could power the evolving field of self-driving technology.

According to the 2018 Third-Party Logistics Study - The State of Logistics Outsourcing, companies such as Paccar, Daimler, Volvo, Waymo and Otto are all in various test stages to bring self-driving trucks into circulation. The business potential is enormous as only 2.5 percent of shippers, and less than 2 percent of 3PLs say they currently use autonomous vehicles. In the near-future, however, 27 percent of both shippers and 3PLs say they will be using the technology in some forms.

The future will see the introduction of much needed transparency, efficiency and control into transportation equipment. The day may not be far away when the only vehicle driving without an array of technology solutions will be Santa’s sleigh!