Technology in the automotive sector has continued to advance with innovations like driver assistance, fuel-savings, accident prevention, road safety, and environmental conservation technology. These new advancements are being implemented slowly into the trucking industry and is helping to upscale their operations.
However, these advancements are coming at a time when the trucking industry has been facing several downturns and challenges. Truck operators have been battling fuel price fluctuations and driver shortages, all the while contending with highest rate of accidents of all modes of logistics. Additionally, environmental impact from the trucking industry is the highest amongst all logistics sectors. These two factors are the main contributors for the research being done to find innovative solutions.
Here are some of the innovations and technologies that standout and are taking an important role in leading the trucking industry to a more positive and environmental-conscious direction. They are developed to facilitate efficient and safe trucking, as well as guiding trucking towards stronger growth as an industry.
Telematics technology function is to analyze a truck driver’s behavior, and is amongst the most important innovations being developed for the trucking industry today. In the near future, telematics technology will become a basic requirement for anyone operating a truck.
The main focus of telematics technology is reporting when an accident has occurred, when a driver leaves a designated route, as well as recording each driver’s behavior. This is only the tip of the iceberg for this technology, as much more is being explored for how best to utilize it in the trucking industry. This comes at a time when more people are voicing their concerns over the need to examine hours of service regulations, the mass installation of telematics technology will assist greatly in this with its unmatched information exchange processes. The connection between each truck in a fleet will allow truck manufacturers to design trucks with greater efficiency and better ergonomics for drivers.
Safety is at the true heart of all trucking technological innovations. Some of the safety devices already being used include, forward collision warning system, lane departure warning, roll stability control system, drivers’ attention assistance, stability control for trailers, and active brake assistance, with many more in development.
Besides being a worthwhile investment, safety systems are an investment that enhances security for both truck drivers and other drivers who share their roads. While trucking is more prone to accidents than other modes of logistics; road accident statistics suggest that truck accidents generally result in less severe or fatal cases than other vehicles sharing the road. The installation of optimized security systems will only help to further decrease the risk of road accidents.
The trucking industries impact on the environment has always been of concern. The industry has been trying to develop ways to reduce fossil fuel consumption and air pollution to curb this negative aspect.
A popular choice among truck manufacturers to reduce fuel consumption is converting to a hybrid engine system, which allows trucks to run on clean energy. Hybrid engines save between 25-30 percent more on fuel consumption compared to conventional diesel engines. Hybrid engines also come in a more compact size and consume less fuel. Furthermore, as a byproduct of these advancements the trucking industry has also been able to develop more efficient powertrains by decreasing the size, all the while increasing trucks combustion efficiency, and lessening exhaust emissions.
Self-driving truck technology has been receiving a lot of attention recently. As a cutting-edge technology, self-driving trucks can help save on costs and often boast electric engines. Additionally, more trips can be made with self-driving trucks with reduced risk of accidents which are often caused by human error.
Research and development on self-driving truck technology have shown promising results with several successful real-road tests from several major trucking operators. This gives more hope to the development of better speed control and detection, as well as weather detection. With more self-driving trucks on the road in the future; accompanying laws and regulations will be the next step in supporting efficient and safe truck operations.
The development of platooning system is under the same banner as the development of self-driving trucks. The main difference is platooning requires one driver to drive the truck leading the rest of the caravan of trucks, all of which are automatically driven and follow behind the lead truck.
However, platooning requires extreme precision between each truck in a platoon in sending information on speed, acceleration and deceleration. Implementing platooning system will not only save on costs, energy, and carbon dioxide released; it is expected to also improve traffic congestion and save space on the road. Nevertheless, platooning is more suitable for highway trips where traffic flows better, and it has yet to be tested on congested city streets.
Truck operators are working on implementing many of these technologies into their businesses to revive the attraction of trucking. Although it’s a big investment, implementing these types of technologies can pay dividends in the long run, and is likely to be the sole method in standardizing the trucking industry at an international level. The use of these technologies in the trucking industry will usher positive behavioral changes and lead the way forward for trucking as an industry.