According to Statista, within two years the discrete manufacturing, transportation & logistics and utilities industries will spend $40 billion each on IoT platforms, systems and services. Those are some pretty big numbers!
Of course, the IoT is disrupting everything in its sight and the transportation industry is no exception. There already is, and will continue to be, increasing reliance on the technology and that aforementioned $40 billion + will fund this ongoing transformation.
So what are the various ways the IoT is making an impact on the trucking and transportation industry? Let’s take a look.
Collecting Truck and Tire Data via Sensors
Truck data can be more easily collected and analyzed by simply equipping vehicles with IoT sensors. The information gleaned from the sensors can then be used to track, monitor, analyze, and maintain an entire fleet and in real-time.
It’s not just trucking companies per se who are relying on IoT data to help improve business insights. Critical industry partners, such as premium tire manufacturer, Continental, recently unveiled a new digital tire monitoring platform, ContiConnect. The system uses Vodafone’s IoT SIM technology to collect tire pressure data for commercial vehicle fleets. Each time a truck returns to a fleet terminal, data is displayed in a web portal that can be accessed worldwide. The data provided will indicate problems, such as tires with low air pressure or even high temperature, which can cause dangerous tire blowouts. Entire fleet’s tires are monitored every time trucks or buses return to their terminal. With this technology, manual pressure checks in the fleet yard are eliminated and tire data is available to everyone in the fleet.
Transporting Perishable Goods
As with tires, numerous products transported in the trucking industry are perishable and/or environmentally sensitive. These products can be impacted by high or low temperatures, vibrations, shocks and humidity. For example, in the medical industry, trucks carrying biologic and biopharmaceutical medicine must be kept at specific temperatures during a journey. By implementing IoT applications, alerts will notify truckers and management when the conditions of these products go awry, avoiding potentially dangerous and life-threatening outcomes.
Government Regulation Compliance
Also impacting the trucking industry are increased government regulations. The Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) mandate, which took effect in late 2017, requires all motor carriers to install electronic devices in their trucks that will automatically track drivers’ hours of service. By law, drivers are only allowed to drive for 11 hours with a mandatory, continuous rest period of 10 hours, daily.
Prior to the mandate, most (but not all) drivers kept manual logbooks to track their hours, while some of the larger carriers already had ELDs installed in their vehicles. The majority of smaller carriers have become compliant as this regulation was implemented with the intention of creating safer roads.
A company in Minnesota, Upper Lakes Foods, is taking advantage of IoT technology to document problems that arise during inspections. They did so by using a mobile ELD solution enabling drivers to use a smartphone or tablet to document pre and post trip inspections. The data is then shared with their carrier’s garage and any issues can then be documented, with the hopes of creating a predictive and efficient maintenance model. According to an article in Freight Waves, the company’s trucks connected to the IoT help asset owners reduce “uselessness and wastefulness” by optimizing maintenance schedules and eliminating unnecessary miles and idle time.
Improve Business Processes
IoT can help optimize a company’s day-to-day operations. This could enhance delivery strategies, cut travel costs, or reduce emissions. For example, if two drivers leave from the same location but use different routes to travel to the same destination, sensor data could help identify which driver arrived faster, paid fewer tolls, or conserved more fuel. As with the example from Upper Lakes Foods, optimization is the goal – this new data means deliveries can be streamlined and standardized.
Another area where the IoT can be particularly useful to fleet operators is downtime, which is said to be one of the biggest expenses for truck maintenance. If the downtime was unexpected, costs can quickly increase. By implementing IoT applications, fleet owners can learn critical information and hopefully avoid future failures, such as engine problems, or at least identify them more quickly than ever before.
It's clear that the trucking industry can greatly benefit from implementing IoT solutions. From temperature control and predicting downtime to reducing dangerous tire blowouts, fleet owners and logistics coordinators will increasingly deploy this technology to better serve their customers.