Like the fleet industry, technology is ever-changing. While some technological advancements might seem daunting at first, others can provide your fleet with more efficiencies, better safety and additional opportunities.
Take a look at several emerging technologies that can benefit your fleet operation.
New technology is resulting in more data that can provide insight into fleet operations that wasn’t previously available. Big data can help provide more financial analysis and better information on vehicle and equipment performance. It can also reveal patterns within your fleet, parts, manufacturers, vendors and staff that can help inform business decisions.
John Sass, senior vice president, sales and marketing for Navistar, broke down the benefits of big data for attendees at the 2018 Heavy Duty Truck Exchange in Scottsdale, Ariz., on May 9. According to TruckingInfo.com, Sass explained that the information big data provides can help fleets achieve better load matches, improve routing and overcome structural challenges. For example, obtaining better information can help fleets improve the coordination of arrival times, unloading times, and overall staffing and organization, as the data can convey what docks are open, what cargo is being carried, and where it is going next.
One challenge he is confident big data can help fleets overcome is driver shortages.
“If our industry could get just 5 percent more efficiency out of our operations, it could possibly eliminate the driver shortage entirely,” Sass said.
To help its clients better digest their big data, RTA Fleet Management Software is working on a solution using Microsoft’s Business Intelligence tool. Chief Technology Officer Doug Perkes previewed RTA’s solution at this year’s RTA Connect conference.
Monitors for Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is an issue for all drivers, but it can be especially dangerous for fleet drivers. New technology is allowing fleets to monitor drivers for distracted driving. One California-based company, Nauto, has created products to both detect and alert distracted drivers. Nauto Coach uses a dual-facing in-vehicle camera, sensors and algorithms to detect distracted driving. The technology can also provide drivers with an overall driving score.
Nauto Prevent provides in-cabin alerts to drivers to remind them to focus on the road. The technology monitors a driver’s head and eye positions, and sends alerts into the cabin to encourage the driver to be more engaged with the road. This product captures video of the driver and sends it – along with data of the events – to a web portal the fleet manager can access. New technologies also provide apps to reward drivers for safe-driving behavior. For example, Stay Metrics allows carriers to set up a rewards and points system based on custom data. Drivers can enter information into the app, and they will be scored and awarded points as determined by their driving behavior.
GPS Tracking with Driver Alerts
GPS tracking can allow fleet managers to get real-time feedback on where vehicles are on their route, but it can also be used to keep drivers safe on the road. GPS Insight has a solution to provide drivers with in-cab alerts when they are approaching a correction curve. These curves, which are a result of miscalculations between highways and state lines, require drivers to make sharp turns. These curves are typically unexpected, and present the risk of an accident or rollover for heavy trucks.
To help provide an advanced warning to drivers of these upcoming obstacles, GPS Insight created the functionality to have drivers alerted in the cabin when they are approaching a correction curve. This allows them enough time to slow down and prepare for the difficult turn.
Electric Trucks and Autonomous Vehicles
Electric trucks and autonomous vehicles are becoming more of a reality for fleets around the world. This past spring, UPS developed new technology to help power its London-based fleet of electric vehicles. The company created a smart grid to help recharge its electric vehicles without overwhelming the power grid.
While UPS has made progress with its London fleet, U.S.-based companies might still be a ways away from fully integrating electric and autonomous vehicles into fleets, Sass told the 2018 Heavy Duty Truck Exchange attendees.
Sass said there needs to be more charging stations available across the U.S. for electric trucks before they can be driven on longer routes. He also mentioned varying costs make it difficult for fleets to budget for electric vehicles.
The Navistar senior vice president also said work needs to be done on U.S. streets and highways before autonomous vehicles can be safely used. Sass warned that when self-driving vehicles do become part of fleets, new rules for drivers will need to be established.
“We are also going to have to redefine issues that pertain to the driver in an autonomous vehicle,” Sass said, according to TruckingInfo.com. “How much focus is required while in autonomous mode? What is time in autonomous mode worth in terms of hours of service? These are all things we’ll have to work out over time.”