Transportation Industry Continues to Embrace Technology

A report by VDC Research highlights tech trends gaining the most tracking in the transportation sector.

Getty Images 1023119734 Trucking
Getty Images

The collective transportation and logistics industry is showing a strong embrace of technological developments, according to VDC Research’s 2018 Enterprise Buyer Behavior study.

In regards to mobile technology end users, the study notes a 51.1 percent year-over-year increase in transportation respondent’s extreme satisfaction with the pace of their organization’s mobile initiatives, and a 23.4 percent 12-month improvement in extreme satisfaction with the adoption of mobile applications. 

And trucking transportation is no exception, says VDC Research analyst Pat Nolan in a blog post.

"A recent wave of big rig-targeted technologies have gained traction thanks to the forced introduction of the trucking and tech worlds. This is a result of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) official enforcement of the long-coming Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Rule in December 2017," Nolan explains.

The ELD congressional mandate requires commercial driversat least those required to prepare hour-of-service recordsto use ELDs to ensure safer driving practices.

Nolan points to Konexial's My20 ELD as one of the top solutions on the market. Konexial’s ELD automatically logs a driver’s location, hours-of-service and available capacity to fulfill FMCSA compliance rules. Further enhancing the device, its GoLoad dynamic load matching platform uses the data provided from the My20 ELD to dynamically match up drivers who have extra hours and capacity with available loads from shippers based on location, direction, hours of service, and economic criteria—providing drivers with opportunities to dramatically increase earning potential.

"At roughly $130 for the device and a $15/month subscription fee per user for the app, it is a cost-effective tool for ELD compliance, log auditing and GPS tracking with a breadth of other integrated functionalities," adds Nolan. 

While Nolan says ELD solutions serve as a technological entry point, trucking operations have also been exposed to a number of niche digital opportunities that can drive efficiencies and improve fleet safety.

"Companies like Netradyne and SmartDrive focus on highly intelligent dash cams to monitor and manage driver performance, provide safety alerts and expedite accident handling. Others offer IoT sensors equipped throughout a fleet that can be used to analyze and optimize fuel usage, parts maintenance and routing," he says. 

Also of note is software developer Samsara, which offers a nearly complete suite for fleet digitalization. In his blog post, Nolan highlights the following features:

  • A plug-and-play hardware device coupled with a smartphone app as an ELD solution;
  • A hardware unit that also serves as a WiFi hotspot to avoid cellular data costs;
  • Dash cams and sensors and a cloud-based dashboard that offers real-time fleet location and alerts, routing and dispatch planning; 
  • A variety of reporting and analytics features; and
  • Support of productivity apps like email, text and video messaging, CRM, and work order management.

"The truck tech offered by Konexial, Samsara and the likes is well-positioned for growth," Nolan says. "In our 2018 Enterprise Buyer Behavior report, when looking exclusively at our respondents from trucking transportation operations, we see that the leading market priorities driving mobile technology investments are increasing visibility (14.61 percent), improving mobile workforce productivity (12.36 percent), and reducing delivery costs (12.36 percent). The solutions discussed so far aim to achieve precisely those goals." 

Beyond readily available mobility solutions, Nolan also highlights trucking innovations from tech companies such as Uber, Tesla and Google’s Waymo who are all currently developing autonomous, driverless semi-trucks. The analyst also sees truck platooning as "another near-future likelihood." 

He further notes that although the trucking sector may have an exciting technological roadmap ahead, it is important to focus on effectively deploying the solutions at hand.

"In an industry suffering from a lack of drivers, a technology overload without proper training and adjustment time is no way to reward seasoned vets," Nolan says. "Another point of cautionour 2018 Enterprise Buyer Behavior report finds that transportation organizations were by far the most likely to have been victims of a data breach or cyberattack. The digitalization of fleets creates more opportunities for such incidents and demands even more attention to the industry’s cybersecurity problem."