Welcome! Guest

Exploring the Advantages of In-Cab Technology for Fleet Operations

11/01/2023 02:08

In today's fast-paced business world, efficiency and productivity are key factors in achieving success. This is especially true for companies involved in management in fleet operations, where managing a large number of vehicles and drivers can be a challenging task.

However, with the advancements in technology, fleet managers now have access to a wide range of tools and solutions to streamline their operations. One such technology that has gained significant traction in recent years is in-cab technology.

In-cab technology refers to the use of various electronic devices and software within the driver's cabin to improve communication, safety, and efficiency. From simple navigation systems to advanced fleet management software, in-cab technology has revolutionized the way fleet operations are managed.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the advantages of in-cab technology for fleet operations and how it can help businesses achieve their goals of cost reduction, increased safety, and improved efficiency.

By the end of this article, readers will have a comprehensive understanding of in-cab technology and its potential to transform the fleet management industry.

The Importance of Striking a Balance

Fleet operators are increasingly recognizing the importance of striking a balance between utilizing software and customizing it to meet their specific needs. They understand that this presents both an opportunity and a challenge - the opportunity to leverage new technologies for better route mapping, cost savings, and streamlining various functions, and the challenge of finding the right mix of software solutions.

When it comes to implementing transportation management systems on a large scale, each fleet has its unique experience. Some heavily rely on in-cab technology to optimize routes, while others continue to rely on dispatch for this task, with additional support from familiar tools like Google Maps.

Simplifying processes like invoicing and bills of lading is seen as a significant advantage. However, all of this is happening against the backdrop of the impending integration of artificial intelligence into fleet operations.

Danny Lilley, the Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Werner, shared insights with Transport Topics. He explained that Werner has taken a proactive approach by developing its own tablet-based digital platform called EDGE Connect. This platform was created in-house by their innovation arm, known as Werner EDGE.

Werner Enterprises has secured a noteworthy position on the prestigious Transport Topics Top 100 list, ranking at an impressive No. 17 among the largest for-hire carriers in North America. Additionally, the company has also earned a commendable No. 71 spot on the list of top freight brokerage firms.

According to Lilley, a representative of Werner Enterprises, the company has invested in state-of-the-art telematics devices to enhance the efficiency of their operations. These devices enable drivers to seamlessly manage electronic logging devices, workflow, and other essential functions. Over the past few years, Werner Enterprises has diligently upgraded this technology, focusing on improving critical aspects such as payroll management and load shipments.

Dissatisfaction with the Fleet's Previous Solution

Lilley expressed his dissatisfaction with the fleet's previous solution, stating that it was antiquated and inconvenient. He explained that the system relied on physical forms and had a user interface with a detachable keyboard, lacking any streamlined workflow.

Upon reaching a shipper, drivers had to navigate through a daunting stack of 60 different forms, manually inputting the required data. Clearly, this technology was not optimal for the drivers, as it involved excessive manual labor and was far from being the most technologically advanced option available.

Advanced Electronic Logging Device System

UniGroup utilizes an advanced electronic logging device system provided by Samsara to enhance various aspects of its operations. One crucial function of this system revolves around fuel efficiency, which holds significant importance for the company's commitment to sustainability.

To promote fuel efficiency and sustainability, UniGroup leverages the capabilities of this device to measure and monitor fuel consumption. This empowers their van operators to adopt more fuel-efficient practices, aligning with their sustainability goals. Detailed reports on idling and fuel consumption are generated, enabling the company's ELD manager to collaborate closely with drivers. The ELD manager shares valuable insights and safe driving tips to maximize fuel efficiency, fostering a culture of environmentally-conscious driving.

Furthermore, UniGroup's implementation of this technology extends beyond the device itself. Dedicated ELD administrators collaborate with drivers to optimize the system's resources. By customizing each application to the unique capabilities of individual drivers and trucks, these administrators ensure maximum effectiveness and seamless integration into the company's operations.

Overall, UniGroup's partnership with Samsara and the utilization of its electronic logging device system significantly contribute to improving fuel efficiency, promoting sustainability, and enhancing overall operational performance.

Earliest Technological Advancements

Routing software revolutionized the trucking industry as one of its earliest technological advancements. Even in the present day, it remains an indispensable component.

Chad Dittberner, the senior vice president of the van/expedited division at Werner, emphasizes its significance, stating that managing routing is of utmost importance to truckers, especially when considering low bridges, traffic conditions, weather, construction, and parking availability.

Fleets recognize the importance of route optimization in providing shippers with accurate and reliable estimated time of arrivals. Averitt, ranked No. 29 on TT's Top 100 for-hire list, places great emphasis on this aspect. They have developed the Averitt Drive Workflow app, operating on a Samsung Tab Active3 tablet, to address this need.

Amos Rogan, the LTL field operations leader for Averitt, explains that ensuring confirmation of shipment pickup, movement, and delivery has become increasingly crucial. Customer service and visibility have taken precedence, with customers now demanding more information compared to 15 years ago.

Due to supply chain issues, customers are now seeking details such as ETAs, information about who signed for the delivery, and when it was signed for.

In summary, routing software continues to play a vital role in the trucking industry, offering improved efficiency and customer satisfaction by optimizing routes and providing accurate information on estimated time of arrivals and delivery details.

A cutting-edge ETA engine has been developed, exclusively available to both Averitt drivers and dispatchers, resulting in exceptional proprietary technology.

A cutting-edge ETA engine has been developed, exclusively available to both Averitt drivers and dispatchers, resulting in exceptional proprietary technology.

Route Optimization

Werner prioritizes enhancing customers' estimated time of arrival (ETA) by integrating route optimization technology into their operations. This advanced technology not only improves the accuracy of ETAs but also provides shippers with a high level of confidence in arrival times.

By incorporating factors such as traffic, weather, and hours-of-service calculations, Werner ensures a more sophisticated and reliable ETA for their customers.

Similarly, Averitt utilizes route optimization software to enhance the efficiency of their less-than-truckload (LTL) operations and it avoid driver error. This software provides driver performance with a precise plan for pickups and deliveries, considering a wide range of factors.

From a geographical perspective, the software determines the optimal sequence for loading the trailer, aiming to minimize the distance traveled and the real-time visibility, real time tracking, real time information and the real time feedback taken for each run. Additionally, this approach may increase the number of shipments handled.

To ensure the process aligns with receiving times and the availability of liftgates, various factors are taken into account.

AI has the Advantage

AI has a significant advantage when it comes to analyzing various factors and devising efficient routing schemes. Due to its faster processing capabilities compared to the human brain, AI can take into account traffic patterns, the time of day, and congestion levels. This proves especially beneficial in densely populated areas like Atlanta. For instance, if you're leaving Atlanta at 9:30 in the morning, it would be wise to take Interstate 285 to reach your destination. However, after 10 o'clock, the traffic on 285 becomes congested, resembling a parking lot. Therefore, it makes sense to schedule shipments at times when you can avoid such congestion on the route.

AI is expected to play a crucial role in the future operations of Averitt. Initially, it will have a more prominent impact on the linehaul side rather than in pickup-and-delivery operations. On another note, Werner is working on developing an AI pilot program that involves conversational bots answering questions for drivers. These bots will provide helpful information such as terminal hours or guidance on how to put chains on the truck.

While many platforms offer weather real-time alerts, fleets recognize the need to go beyond these readily available alerts on the internet. The aim is to transform weather information into an advisory service that enhances communication between dispatch and drivers. Instead of solely relying on drivers to monitor weather apps on their phones, the idea is to provide them with proactive support and guidance. This approach is highly valued by drivers, as they appreciate the company's commitment to looking out for their well-being and providing them with the necessary support.

The Advancement of In-Cab Technology

Effective communication with drivers, dispatch and customers is crucial, especially in severe weather situations. If a driver is advised to get off the road due to safety concerns or makes that decision themselves, dispatch can inform the customer about possible delays in delivery.

The advancement of in-cab technology not only offers features like route planning, maintenance alerts, and weather updates, but also simplifies administrative tasks for drivers. For instance, billing, which previously required physical forms to be submitted to the main office, can now be done electronically through API-driven bills of lading.

According to Rogan, drivers only need to fill out a form at each stop they make, whether it's for pickup or delivery. This streamlining of paperwork saves time and effort for drivers.

While the benefits of efficient routes, weather safety, and overall operational efficiency are evident, fleet managers still face the challenge of measuring the return on investment (ROI) for these technologies. Rogan explains that ROI cannot be quantified by a single metric, as it involves factors like improved driver performance and driver satisfaction, enhanced productivity in terms of hours and miles, and better equipment management and utilization. Additionally, some aspects of ROI may be intangible since there are unknown variables.

However, there are instances when the value of technology becomes evident. For example, if a weather alert prevents a potential hazards, risk of accidents, road accident or delay, the efficient fleet can measure the value of avoiding such situations and keeping drivers safe.

Pilgram highlights the benefit of preventing drivers from entering flood zones and having to wait before proceeding to their next load. This tangible advantage contributes to the overall ROI for the fleet.

In cases where precise measurement of ROI is not possible, some managers accept that as a reality. Dittberner acknowledges that while ROI is preferred for every project, there are certain actions that must be taken regardless. For instance, it is difficult to quantify the ROI for weather-related decisions. However, it is important to prioritize the well-being of professional drivers and make decisions that are considered the right thing to do, even if they cannot be easily tied to a specific ROI.

In Conclusion

In-cab technology has become a game-changer for fleet operations, providing numerous advantages that help companies streamline their operations, improve driver safety and performance, and reduce costs. From real-time data and communication to enhanced safety features, this technology continues to evolve and offer even more benefits to the trucking industry.

As more and more companies adopt in-cab technology, it is clear that it is here to stay and will play a crucial role in the future of fleet operations.

If you want to stay updated with a wide range of trends, actionable insights, and innovative solutions in the trucking, freight, and logistics industry, stay connected to us.

Moreover, are you looking for a company to help you to stay DOT and FMCSA compliant? We at Labworks USA can support you.

Back to Blogs