5 Things to Expect from Trucking’s Digital Future


Emily NewtonEditor-in-Chief at Revolutionized

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Like many other industries, trucking has adopted a wide range of new technologies and digital solutions.

Article 6 Minutes
 5 Things to Expect From Trucking’s Digital Future

The trucking industry is going digital. Tools for route optimization, AI solutions and self-driving trucks are just a few examples of new technology changing the industry.

These are five things about the trucking industry that will change as the industry undergoes its digital transformation.

1. New technology helps trucking companies go green

Sustainability has become more important than ever for both consumers and businesses.

Research has found that many consumers are willing to pay more for green products and that businesses that invest in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance tend to perform better than their competition. As a result, there is a serious business and ethical case for making trucking more sustainable.

Right now, the transportation industry accounts for around 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The trucking industry contributes a significant portion of that figure.

A combination of electric vehicles and automated solutions could help the industry reduce its carbon footprint.

Electric vehicles can nearly or entirely eliminate emissions produced during normal operations. Automation can help eliminate waste throughout the process, speeding up freight and minimizing the time truckers spend idling or on the road driving inefficient routes.

When adopting electric or hybrid vehicles isn’t practical, businesses can also use digital management solutions to improve the efficiency of their operations. This reduces miles driven, time spent idling and business-related GHG emissions.

2. Businesses cut costs with route optimization

Determining routes for a trucking job can be both time-consuming and labor-intensive. Plus, there’s no guarantee a worker will be able to find the most optimal route on their own, especially if time or resource constraints are forcing them to act fast.

Route optimization technologies use computer algorithms to automatically calculate the most efficient route for a job based on factors like delivery start point and endpoint, speed limits, number of stops, number of deliveries and driver and facility schedules.

Certain route optimization platforms may also consider the number of intersections on a route, legal requirements and the number of left-handed vs. right-handed turns.

The technology can reduce the amount of administrative work necessary when planning a new job, and help drivers get from point A to point B faster. This means less wasted gas, fewer hours driven, reduced maintenance costs and quicker delivery times.

For the most part, route optimization systems also won’t require the adoption of any supporting technologies like IoT data trackers or GPS tracking systems. However, they may be able to use the data these systems collect to design more efficient routes.

3. Self-driving trucks help the industry navigate a labor shortage

The trucking industry faced a shortage of drivers before COVID-19, but the pandemic deepened the problem. In January 2022, the U.S. was experiencing a shortage of 80,000 drivers, significantly slowing down national logistics and reducing the shipping capacity of many trucking companies.

Self-driving trucks could help the industry manage the shortage. These trucks use AI algorithms, cloud computing and a suite of smart sensors to drive themselves. However, before self-driving trucks are ready for widespread use, they must overcome a few serious hurdles.

A number of companies have completed successful self-driving truck experiments. Towards the end of 2021, TuSimple completed its first driverless truck test. One of the company’s self-driving trucks was able to finish an 80-mile journey entirely on its own. The drive took place on surface streets and highways between a railyard in Tuscon, Arizona, and a distribution center in Phoenix and required no human intervention.

The 1-hour-and-20-minute drive may not seem like much compared to some of the long hauls expected from truckers today. However, the test was an important step forward for self-driving truck technology. Within the decade – after significant additional testing – we may begin to see trucking companies adopt self-driving tractor-trailers.

4. IoT devices improve supply chain transparency and traceability

Transparency in the supply chain has become a major topic of discussion. Consumers, retailers and manufacturers all want to know where goods come from, how they were made, and how they were transported. Ensuring transparency and traceability can be difficult, however.

With internet of things (IoT) devices – including sensors that transmit and receive information over the internet – it’s possible to get much better data on the movement of goods and transportation conditions.

Using this data, trucking companies can pass on better information about shipment conditions and provenance to retailers and consumers.

The technology is also being used to monitor important shipments while in transit. Many COVID-19 vaccines, for example, must be held at extremely low temperatures from manufacturing up until the time they are used.

Temperature excursions that occur during transportation can cause the vaccines to spoil, effectively wasting an essential medical product.

IoT temperature trackers can be attached to COVID-19 vaccine containers and monitor the temperatures to which they are exposed. If a cooling system fails, the device can automatically alert drivers, warehouse workers or managers to take action to ensure the vaccines do not spoil.

The same devices may also track where the vaccines are, giving logistics companies and their clients deeper visibility of the vaccine cold chain.

5. Cybersecurity will become an essential investment

Digital systems, data collection and cloud computing are all valuable tools, but they can also make a company much more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Across the world, hackers are ramping up attacks that target business systems, stealing critical data or holding information hostage so the business cannot function without paying a ransom.

Many trucking and logistics companies fell victim to ransomware attacks in 2021. An even greater number of companies were attacked but narrowly avoided a breach.

As trucking undergoes its digital transformation, it will also need to invest in cybersecurity professionals, training and technology.

It’s likely everyone in the industry will need some form of security training, from IT professionals to executives to the truckers themselves. Otherwise, working may be vulnerable to social engineering attacks – like phishing – that can provide attackers with account credentials and network access.

Cybersecurity professionals who work for trucking companies will also need to start sharing information and best practices with professionals outside the industry. They may also need to help trucking adopt universal standards and frameworks for secure IT practices that are becoming more popular in other industries.

These information-sharing practices and cybersecurity training programs are probably the only way to guarantee digital transformations in trucking don’t leave the industry open to attack.

The digital transformation in trucking could reshape the industry

Like most industries, trucking is undergoing a major digital transformation right now. Technologies like AI, IoT, self-driving vehicles and the cloud are helping businesses in the industry become more efficient and utilize valuable data.

In the near future, these technologies could completely change how the industry moves goods, enabling more efficient routes and better traceability and reducing labor costs.

Emily Newton

Emily is a tech and industrial journalist with over four years of experience writing articles for the industrial sector. She’s Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online publication exploring innovations in manufacturing, technology and science. 


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