In the early 1930s, approximately 3% of interstate freight was transported by trucks according to the Federal Highway Administration. In the last century, the trucking industry has evolved into the top choice in interstate freight. In 2019, the trucking industry produced more than $791 billion in revenue, transporting the most US freight in weight than any other industry.
As technological advancements are happening, trucking industry leaders are working to incorporate various innovations into their business plans. To remain competitive in the future, fleet managers must embrace emerging technology such as autonomous vehicles to sustainable infrastructure. Traffic management is currently a big piece of the puzzle and will help to create infrastructure that will last generations and improve efficiency.
AI, Machine Learning and Real-Time Tracking
For the fleet managers who aren’t aware of emerging technological advancements, the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) may seem irrelevant in regards to logistics; however, the reality is that AI is already improving fleet efficiency whilst boosting the bottom line of companies. Ai and machine learning are invaluable in terms of processing massive amounts of data collected by on-vehicle sensors, irrespective of the size of the fleet or cargo.
AI can also handle data from a vast number of sources across the supply chain, identifying issues in particular areas in a much quicker fashion. From this, fleet managers can mitigate issues impacting on productivity, efficiency and profits. In the future, AI may aid trucking companies in reducing miles driven, improve routing and streamline the entire logistics process.
Machine learning can take AI a step further in advancing the logistics process. An AI’s interpretation of data is consistently refined effectively improving the way a fleet operates and communicates. As an AI system becomes aware of such information as the most efficient route to a location, future shipments can be adjusted to improve optimal efficiency.
Traffic Management and Technology
When it comes to collecting and interpreting data, traffic patterns and management techniques are important factors worth considering. Dealing with traffic is part of the job that comes with fleet management; however, some routes can be more problematic than others. With the help of AI, driving routes can be designed specifically to avoid gridlock and congestion in major cities, as well as other hotspots that can bring trucks to a halt.
Similar to the trucking industry, traffic management is constantly changing for the better. Traffic lights are the most common tools for traffic management with many others being introduced over the years to varying degrees of success such as lighted ramp meters; first introduced in the sixties, these were designed to limit the flow of vehicles merging onto the interstate.
Since then, urban areas have increased in congestion with passenger cars. American commuters waste an estimated 54 hours annually stuck in traffic negatively impacting on public safety, personal health and the overall economy. Trucking companies are not in a position to sustain significant delays in heavy traffic and should therefore advocate for sustainable traffic management solutions.
Fortunately, more and more cities are introducing intelligent transportation system (ITS) technologies to their infrastructure to improve traffic flow and reduce stand still. The most common forms of ITS include roadside cameras and traffic apps that produce real-time date for drivers to better plan their route. Digital technology isn’t the only necessary requirement for improving traffic management or sustainable infrastructure. Roundabouts are a good example of how cities can improve traffic flow and increase road safety without the expensive investment in the tech market.
Improve Traffic Control for a Healthy Planet
It’s not just a company’s bottom line and reputation that benefits from shorter and efficient routing. ITS and traffic management techniques are also found to make a significant reduction in fossil fuel consumption and air pollution. As a result of this, the introduction of sustainable traffic management can also benefit trucking companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
Sustainability, along with global inequality, is a driving force in the global economy. An increasing number of consumers are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce their environmental impact according to research from the Institute for Business Value (IBM). Make no mistake, the push towards sustainable products impacts every part of the supply chain including shipping, logistics, fleet management and more.
In order to stay competitive, fleet managers should make considerations on the company’s environmental impact and look to reduce their emissions. Educating themselves in traffic control management and embracing technological advancements is a good place to start.