Future-Proof Your Fleet Technology to Maximize Your Investment

Key Takeaways:

  • Fleet owners struggle to balance safety, flexibility, and quality with profitable operations. 

  • Parking, freight optimization, and diagnostics are experiencing a transformation.

  • Electric and hybrid electric vehicles are making inroads into municipal applications and last-mile delivery, though commercialization of autonomous big rigs is years away.

  • Fleet owners have many ELD options, but understanding the market and selecting the right solution can be challenging.

  • Cameras help fleet owners identify risky drivers, respond to emergencies, and create predictive analytics.

  • ELDs and cameras provide fleet owners with safety and operational benefits.

 

Overview

In the trucking sector, the safety technology market is changing rapidly. Solutions related to parking, diagnostics, and electronic logging devices (ELDs) are under- going a transformation. To future-proof fleets, fleet owners must invest in technologies that are flexible enough to accommodate future capabilities via integration.

Navigating the options in the ELD and camera market can feel overwhelming. However, making informed choices can deliver significant safety and operational benefits. In addition, combining technology tools with data from multiple devices and equipment can provide fleet owners with a more holistic view of what is happening with vehicles, drivers, and the fleet overall.

Context

Susan Beardslee discussed technology trends affecting the trucking industry. Bob Verret described how Dupré Logistics has future-proofed its fleet by implementing ELDs and cameras.

 

Key takeaways:

Fleet owners struggle to balance safety, flexibility, and quality with profitable operations.

Safety, flexibility, and operational excellence are need- ed to address changes like one-day shipping, new regulations, and even weather impacts. Two key factors driving trucking industry changes:

  • Driver shortages. The American Trucking Association estimates a shortage of at least 50,000 drivers. This is expected to continue due to driver demographics and growth in e-commerce. This is challenging in both the U.S. and Western Europe. The Department of Transportation is testing new programs for interstate travel, such as one targeted at military veterans.

  • Parking challenges based on hours of  service. Iowa was one of the first states to implement “Trucks Park Here.” This hardware and software solution from eX2 Technology provides drivers with real-time parking information at rest stops and truck stops. Several midwestern states have formed a consortium called the MAASTO Regional Truck Parking Information and Management System (TPIMS). To reduce detention time, Uber’s Power- loop division offers trailers-as-a-service.

These issues are top of mind for fleet owners seeking positive ROI, profitable operations, driver retention, and more.

 

Parking, freight optimization, and diagnostics are experiencing a transformation.

Several new developments revolutionizing parking, freight optimization, and diagnostics:

  • Pilot Flying J is enjoying tremendous investment. This platform includes user profiles, prime parking reservations, and tailored screens. Uber Freight launched a facility rating service as part of this platform that improves the driver experience through crowdsourcing. The ongoing success of Pilot Flying J will require public-private partnerships.

  • “Freight-as-a-service” (FaaS) addresses freight optimization when capacity is tight. As the spot market has tightened, interest in FaaS has in- creased. Many solutions exist, including convoys, Uber Freight, and services offered by 3PLs. In the coming years, consolidation is expected.

  • Tightened delivery windows are  affecting  the supply chain. Major shippers like Amazon, Walmart, and Target are moving to one-day delivery. This affects warehouse sizes and locations. In some cases, retail outlets are used as staging sites. Usage of intermodal transportation has also increased. These changes are having residual effects on fleets and drivers.

  • Shippers have  increased  interest  in  cold  chain and blockchain. These technologies are top of mind for shippers of fresh foods and pharmaceuticals. Major retailers like Walmart are requiring green goods suppliers to use their IBM blockchain solution. This has been driven by recent food recalls. With blockchain, retailers can track products back to the farm in seconds.

 

Electric and hybrid electric vehicles are making inroads into municipal applications and last-mile delivery.

In the U.S., commercial adoption of electric and hybrid electric vehicles is limited to municipal use cases like garbage trucks and buses, and business applications like last-mile delivery vans. Municipalities like the reduced carbon emissions generated by electric and hybrid electric vehicles. In addition, the ROI is getting closer to traditional vehicles.

In the near term, electric and hybrid electric vehicles are unlikely to gain a foothold in the long-haul or regional trucking markets. Existing battery technologies take up a lot of trailer space. The battery weight and range aren’t well suited for long trips. Building out a charging infrastructure for commercial use will also require tremendous capital investment.

 

Commercialization of autonomous big rigs is years away.

Truck drivers will be required for the foreseeable future, especially for in-town driving. The first SAE Level Two vehicle will be launched later this year by Daimler Trucks for a Freightliner Cascadia. The truck is capable of lateral steering and acceleration control, but is not driverless. Daimler is also funding work on SAE Level Four, which is highly automated, with a commercial offering coming within a decade. This will require considerable regulatory and on-road testing. Many autonomous vehicles are expected to also use electric technology.

 

The threats and opportunities facing fleet owners are constantly evolving.

Fleet owners should be aware of several emerging threats:

  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) approved exemptions that are expected to gain momentum as part of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). These will improve fuel efficiency and reduce aerodynamic drag.

  • Another issue is parameter updates for over-the-air (OTA) updates. Volvo trucks now include as many as 50 parameter updates per year. These are part of a subscription package that includes cruise control, transmissions, fuel economy, and more. By April 2019, the company had over 780 customers with over 18,000 trucks using this new service.

  • Canada finalized its ELD mandate in June 2019. Enforcement will begin in June 2021. A key difference between the U.S. and Canadian ELD mandates is that Canada will require a third party to certify equipment.

In terms of decreasing threats, platooning has received mixed reviews, due to less than expected fuel savings. Daimler, for instance, is shifting investments away  from platooning and toward autonomous development. In addition, pressure is increasing for retirement of automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs).

The outlook for intelligent transportation advances can be divided into one-year, three-year, and five-year time horizons.

 

The Intelligent Transportation Technology Roadmap

Transformation is not binary. It will largely be iterative in the near future, but exponential over the next decade. Electrification will become table stakes for upcoming autonomy. Many new form factors are also emerging for serving the last mile and even last year, from pods to robotics and drones.

Susan Beardslee

 

To future-proof fleets, owners must set realistic time horizons.

Most fleet owners have defined equipment replacement cycles. Dupré Logistics, for example, replaces trucks every four years. As fleet owners implement new technologies, it makes sense to equip trucks before they are placed in service.

If fleet owners elect to retrofit existing trucks with new technologies, a best practice is to do so during regular maintenance windows. This minimizes down- time. New equipment should improve the drivers’ ability to operate vehicles and comply with all regulatory mandates.

 

Fleet owners have many ELD options, but understanding the market and selecting the right solution can be challenging.

Although the transportation and logistics software industry has seen consolidation in recent years, the ELD mandate has had the opposite effect. More than 100 companies have been certified for ELD. This makes it difficult for fleet owners to analyze options and make the right purchase decision. When selecting an ELD, Bob Verret offered several recommendations and identified important features:

  • Consider support for telephony networks. Find a solution that is compatible with 4G or higher. Telephony networking is constantly advancing.

  • Look for solutions that integrate with the transportation management system (TMS). Many TMS solutions share end point data via tablets. Applications that can integrate with the ELD and/or camera offer greater benefits.

  • Evaluate whether the solution will work off network. In poor communication areas, off-network workflow printing and image capture are essential.

  • Consider support for signature capture on the tablet. This can assist with customer billing.

  • Understand customer requirements for hazardous materials. Be sure that tablets are intrinsically safe or are encapsulated in intrinsically safe covers.

Successful ELD implementations require employee buy-in.

Technology associates must accept and support the ELD implementation. In addition, solid training pro- grams are the key to ensuring that employees under- stand how to use new technologies. Train-the-trainer programs work well with larger fleets.

Dupré Logistics uses webinars and solutions like Slack to communicate directly with drivers. Younger drivers tend to adopt new technologies like ELDs more rapidly, since they have been surrounded by different high-tech products throughout their lives.

 

Cameras help fleet owners identify risky drivers, respond to emergencies, and create predictive analytics.

Key considerations when selecting onboard cameras include:

  • Understanding risks as they happen on the road. Most truck cameras capture between 10 and 20 seconds before and after an incident. This is often triggered by the camera’s accelerometer. The truck’s engine control module (ECM) can also trigger events if the camera is linked to the ECM.

Dupré Logistics uses Lytx cameras and is transition- ing from the FV series to the DF series. The SF series provides over 100 hours of continuous video and audio recording of the driver. Lytx cameras record close following, lane drifting, U-turns, and collision activities. Real-time cab alerts help drivers modify dangerous behaviors. Wide-angle lenses capture information about outside activities, such as sideswipes.

If drivers are engaging in risky behaviors, Dupré has the ability to remotely activate the inside camera in its trucks. The company is primarily looking for drivers who are using their cell phones. This is unfortunately a pervasive problem for the industry.

  • Driver panic buttons enable drivers to capture events. For instance, if a driver is pulled over by the police, has a breakdown, or is having equipment problem, they can record what is going on and request assistance.

  • Cameras must integrate with the ELD unit. This ensures that information captured by both devices is synchronized. It is also important to capture and share data for predictive analytics.

 

ELDs and cameras provide fleet owners with safety and operational benefits.

Over 75% of big rig accidents are the fault of cars. As a result, camera video footage protects drivers from unfounded allegations. In-cab alerts prevent collisions, reduce law enforcement fines, and warn drowsy drivers. Simple, automated logging keeps drivers compliant with hours of service (HOS) regulations.

Improved safety scores give fleets a competitive edge, while reducing litigation and insurance fees.

From an operations perspective, ELDs and cameras improve backhaul and equipment utilization thanks to constant truck location and HOS visibility. Integration with the ECM assists with maintenance scheduling, while integration with the TMS helps with settlements and payroll. Location information and directions enable better on-time performance and proper entrance and departure. Service issues can be shared earlier. This helps carriers and customers determine the best way to deal with missed schedules. ELDs and cameras also make drivers’ jobs easier, resulting in higher retention.

Investments in endpoint tools like cameras and ELDs have improved our ability to utilize our equipment and drivers. It’s also enabled us to generate strong financial returns, while differentiating our customer offerings. We feel that these devices have future-proofed our trucking solutions.

Bob Verret

 

Biographies:

Susan Beardslee - Principal Analyst, ABI Research

Susan Beardslee, principal analyst at global tech market advisory, ABI Research, provides global intelligent transportation, and e-freight research coverage, including commercial vehicle telematics, heavy duty and agriculture equipment technologies and multi-mod- al service models. She leads research on emerging areas such as analytics, prognostics, and over-the-air (OTA) updates, Freight as a Service (FaaS), gateways, and electrification.

Susan’s background includes relevant experience in embedded technologies and IoT, advanced automotive, transport, and UAVs. She previously worked for Intel and ON Semiconductor and held a variety of positions with other semiconductor manufacturers and suppliers. She assumed roles in market research, as well as strategy, operations management, competitive analysis, and IT, including cybersecurity management.

 

Bob Verret - Chief Information Officer, Dupré Logistics

Bob Verret is the chief information officer for Dupré Logistics. He is an accomplished executive with leadership experience in the transportation, logistics, supply chain, IT, and consulting industries. In his career, spanning over 35 years, Bob has led companies’ technical solutions with United Vision Logistics, Greatwide Logistics, and CEVA Logistics. He is a skilled leader, building high-performance teams, enhancing systems, and developing business solutions. Bob is adept at working with domestic and  global business organizations, developing strategic partnerships, and leveraging technical and business knowledge to drive market penetration and business growth with solid financial controls. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management Information Systems from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.

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