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6 Amazing Ways IoT is Shaping Trucking for the Long Haul

July 26, 2022
The Internet of Things is changing the trucking sector for the better. Here are six ways how.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is driving innovation across many industries, and trucking is no exception. As more fleets implement these connected devices, the sector as a whole is changing for the better.

An estimated 42% of American fleets use IoT technology today, and that figure is continually growing. Before long, these devices will have reshaped how trucking operates. They already have in many companies. Here are six significant ways this transformation is shaping the future of the trucking industry.

Real-Time Location Tracking

The primary advantage of the IoT is that its interconnectivity offers real-time access to various data points. In trucking, one of the most important use cases for this real-time data is location tracking.

IoT location systems give fleet managers full transparency into where every truck is at any given time. They can then use this information to provide real-time updates to customers and shipping partners, keeping all parties informed of any updates and delays. This enables more effective route planning and communication with logistics partners and can improve customer satisfaction.

These location updates also let trucking companies see potential disruptions as they arise. They can then adjust as necessary to prevent more significant supply chain issues. Considering how there were more than 11,000 supply chain disruptions in 2021 alone, this insight is becoming increasingly crucial.

Shipment Quality Monitoring

IoT devices also let trucking companies monitor the quality of their shipments. Some products, like pharmaceuticals and produce, can easily expire during shipping if equipment malfunctions. Real-time updates from IoT sensors can alert stakeholders to these errors, informing quick actions to prevent spoilage.

Connected temperature sensors are some of the best examples. If these devices sense that temperatures within a refrigerated trailer drop beyond a certain threshold, they can alert drivers and fleet managers. They can then adjust their route to deliver their refrigerated goods to a nearer location before they spoil.

These adjustments may cause some disruption, but the savings from eliminated waste more than make up for it. Installing these systems can also offer assurance to clients with sensitive products, helping trucking businesses gain more business.

Predictive Maintenance

Another important way the IoT is reshaping trucking is by improving maintenance practices. IoT sensors can monitor vehicles through vibration analysis, temperature sensing or fluid sampling. This analysis reveals developing maintenance issues before they lead to costly breakdowns.

This practice, called predictive maintenance, lets fleets create more efficient and proactive repair schedules. Early warnings from IoT sensors prevent breakdowns and keep maintenance costs low, while the need-based approach eliminates unnecessary downtime from unneeded repairs. Fleets can then reduce maintenance spending as much as possible while maximizing vehicle performance.

As IoT device technology improves, these sensors will be able to detect maintenance issues sooner and more accurately. Fleets will be able to reach previously unattainable levels of uptime and ensure their vehicles remain in optimal condition for years. Some of their largest expenses will fall dramatically, leading to considerable profits.

Route Optimization

Data from IoT systems in truck fleets can also help logistics businesses optimize their routes. Real-time traffic data and vehicle locations can help fleet managers see if an alternate route would lead to a faster delivery. Feeding this data into artificial intelligence (AI) analytics models could reveal even more effective route changes.

Fleets could also experience more long-term improvements from analyzing this IoT data. Over time, trends will emerge in location and delivery time records. These trends can reveal if any common routes are inefficient and whether there are any better alternatives, enabling ongoing improvements.

As trucking businesses optimize their routes, they’ll improve customer satisfaction, leading to more business. They’ll also reduce ongoing expenses by minimizing fuel consumption, which will also help companies become more environmentally sustainable.

Driver Safety Monitoring

Just as the IoT lets fleets monitor their vehicles and shipments, it enables them to check on drivers, too. This information can help trucking companies hold employees accountable and make sure they’re driving safely.

Many telematics systems today track dangerous driving behaviors by default, including harsh braking, speeding and taking sharp turns. When they detect these hazards, they can alert fleet managers, letting them know which drivers practice unsafe habits. They can then correct these actions, ensuring the safety of truck drivers and others on the road.

Other IoT safety tools include in-cab cameras to enforce seatbelt wearing and ignition locks that require drivers to pass breathalyzer tests to drive. These systems encourage safer behavior, minimizing fleets’ liabilities and prevent potentially fatal accidents. As more companies implement them, transportation as a whole will become safer.

Streamlined Regulatory Compliance

IoT systems can also make it easier for trucking companies to ensure regulatory compliance. Labor concerns like working hours and breaks can be difficult to manage in long-haul trucking, given employees’ long shifts alone. IoT tracking makes it easier.

Telematics solutions can offer an easily accessible digital record of when drivers are active, and when and for how long they stop. This provides hard data on how long drivers work and how often they take breaks. Gathering these records automatically through IoT networks eliminates complications with manually recording breaks and tracking working hours.

Digitizing these processes makes it easier to ensure companies meet labor standards and gives managers more time to focus on other tasks. Office workers spend one-third of the working year on administrative tasks like this, so automating them through the IoT can yield impressive time savings.

The IoT Is Revolutionizing the Trucking Sector

These six changes are not a definitive list of the ways the IoT is reshaping the trucking industry. As technology improves and adoption rises, new use cases and benefits will emerge, leading to further improvements. While many fleets have already transformed through the IoT, the sector has likely just scratched the surface of these technologies’ potential.

Over the next few years, IoT implementation will move from being a strategic advantage to becoming a necessity. These connected technologies are revolutionizing the industry. Those that don’t capitalize on them in the future could quickly fall behind the competition.

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About the Author

Emily Newton

Emily Newton has eight years of creating logistics and supply chain articles under her belt. She loves helping people stay informed about industry trends. Her work in Supply Chain Connect, Global Trade Magazine and Parcel, showcases her ability to identify newsworthy stories. When Emily isn't writing, she enjoys building lego sets with her husband.