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New technology in trucking

New technology aims to keep drivers safe and maintain efficiency.
/ Industry News & Trends /

By: Phil Sneed

Most, if not all, of today's work operations rely on technology in one capacity or another. Logistics management companies utilize telephones and computers to determine the best route for drivers. Truckers also use this equipment to transport the goods. The semi-trailer is considered a piece of tech, after all. 

Even so, more technology is poised to enter the industry. The hope is to improve driving conditions. These technology companies are not looking to replace the industry. They are instead hoping to offer logistics management and truckers more tools to reach their destinations in a fast and safe manner. Some of the tech is already making an impact.

New tech advancements is brought on in light of a recent report from the GE Capital Survey Forecast. GE is a large supporter of the trucking industry, and they have been an industry leader when it comes to financing commercial trucking. In their report, GE found many positive outlooks nationwide for trucking. An increase in employment, business operations and customers bodes well for the industry and may allow for further investment opportunities. For instance, middle-market trucking company officials told GE that they were planning to invest in more equipment. Investment totals may surpass figures from the previous 12 months. Equipment is a broad term, but it is interesting to see how some equipment may benefit all parties involved.

"Middle-market trucking company officials told GE that they were planning to invest in more equipment."

GPS and camera
The global positioning system company Garmin started offering an all-in-one trucking navigator late June 2015. This device, called dēzlCam, combines a GPS with an on-board dash camera. It should be noted, however, this camera is not like some devices currently on the market that may only record the driver. There are actually two cameras: one camera starts recording immediately and the other is known as Incident Detection camera. According to GPS World, the Detection camera only starts recording and saving footage in the event of an accident.

"Truckers will like dēzlCam especially because of its premium trucking features combined with an integrated dash cam that records proof of road incidents and protects their driving reputation," said Garmin Vice President of worldwide sales, Dan Bartel, in an interview with GPS World.

Garmin's latest offering also helps drivers stay safe because it allows them to use voice activated commands and connect Bluetooth headsets. Information such as speed and location are record so drivers can potentially review routes. In addition to the GPS providing detailed directions, drivers will benefit from advance alerts about bridge heights, sharp turns, weight limits and other variables.

Connected semis
The future of trucks may lie within the Internet, according to Wired magazine. Writer Alex Davies highlighted Zonar, a company that is utilizing data to increase efficiency. Essentially, data is collected on fuel efficiency, safety compliance, operations and maintenance. An interesting aspect is the company's virtual technician offering. Truckers will be able to receive real-time advice from a customer support center because a remote diagnostic tool will automatically transmit data about issues. This may save hours of idle time since truckers will no longer have to wait for maintenance help. Another perk of the system is real-time feedback for drivers. This system will alert them when to shift or remind them not to push too hard on the pedal.

"In an industry where monthly fuel bills for a vehicle can hit $8,000, everything you can do to save gas matters," Davies wrote.

"The hope is if drivers can see what the trucker sees, accidents will be reduced."

Transparent truck
Electronics and manufacturing giant Samsung unveiled an unorthodox truck design in late June: a transparent truck. The company places a camera on the truck's front and livestreams the footage in real time to the four video screen located on the truck's back, according to CNN Money. The company believes this will help passenger vehicles have an easier time moving in front of trucks while on the highway. The hope is if drivers can see what the trucker sees, accidents will be reduced. CNN Money did say these trucks are still far away, however.

Technology is constantly changing every industry, especially the trucking sector. Companies constantly look for ways to increase efficiency, remain cost-effective and keep drivers safe. Some future options will seemingly combine the best of everything.