Truckers have been a cornerstone of the American economy for generations. But their longevity doesn’t mean they’re primitive – the industry has been evolving considerably throughout the years.
Trucks remain America’s preferred method of freight transport, even beating out rails and delivering over two-thirds of the countries freight, accounting for about $671 billion in goods.
But everything from the engines in the trucks to the tools drivers use to log their hours are changing. Low-emission engines, electronic logging devices, and even blockchain platforms are all finding their way into the trucking industry. With so much technology coming along at such a quick rate, the industry is taking the chance to explore these changes in depth at conferences.
The South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference on March 12 will feature a panel dedicated to discussing technology in trucking. The panel, which will be dubbed Tech and Trucking: Regulations, Ridesharing, and Robots,” will feature many prominent industry groups weighing in.
FR8Star, KeepTruckin, Daimler Trucks North America, and Peloton Technology will all play a role in the panel. FR8Star offers data-driven cloud-based tools to help reduce costs and improve transparency in the freight industry. KeepTruckin aims to improve safety and efficiency through logging technology and tracking options. Peloton Technology is a Silicon-Valley based company that focuses on bringing connectivity to trucking in an effort to improve safety and financial efficiency.
SXSW was founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas. The event features panels, screenings, demos, and plenty of networking opportunities for drivers, carriers, and partner companies that work with the freight industry regularly.
The impact of technology on load dispatching and driver monitoring will be discussed, as will the impact of autonomous vehicles on the trucking workforce.
Decentralized technologies and platforms (such as the Uber Freight app) have promised to unite the fragmented industry, helping independent drivers with available capacity get matched up to shippers or receivers who need a truck. The aim is to bring the same simplicity to trucking that exists in ride-sharing now.
However, the complications associated with delivering freight may make this goal a bit harder to achieve than it seems on the surface. But the logistical aspect of trucking is also changing, with new tools and platforms combining telematic freight-monitoring solutions with diagnostic updates and even hour logging into a single system.
FR8Star CEO and co-founder Matt Kropp spoke about the digital evolution in trucking, noting that the industry’s 3.5 million drivers are now required to use electronic logging devices over paper logbooks, and that tech startups can help provide solutions for regulatory compliance, online marketplaces for freight companies, and even improved performance of vehicles.
Technology is a big part of trucking, but not all of the innovations in the industry have been welcomed by workers. Some worry that technologies like electronic logging devices are designed to push smaller carriers and independent drivers out of the industry. Others worry that driverless vehicles could take human jobs, reducing the industry’s already slim workforce.