Technology has affected our lives in so many different ways that we probably would smile with nostalgia if confronted with a rig from 20 years ago. Developments have been fast and furious, and while trucking is not considered a glam, sexy industry for technology, it has been at the forefront of some ground-breaking developments.
Take Qualcomm's OMNITracs system introduced in the 1980's. Prior to OMNITracs, fleet management was a hit and miss affair relying on drivers checking in and liaising with customers to notify dispatch of arrival (or more often, that the goods and truck hadn't turned up and where the hell are they!)
OMNITracs took satellite technology into the cab in a big way, providing real-time data on where the truck was and paving the way for cellular communications. It is from OMNITracs that our modern cell phone networks are derived from, so in that respect, trucking spearheaded the modern world.
A newly released service comes from Sprint with NextMail.
NextMail provides the driver with the ability to record a video or still photo of a package together with a date and time stamp as well as an audio file. In plain English, you can take a picture or video of a package which has been damaged and it will be time evidenced together with a spoken explanation of what happened or why it didn't get delivered. That saves time typing in the cab or the operator trying to prove they had a damaged package which was not their responsibility.
SatNav is obviously one area where trucking has changed and benefited a great deal. Discounting stories of truckers ending up in London UK when they wanted London, Arkansas, probably nothing else has improved productivity in the last 10 years. The majority of fleets are using GPS (Global Positioning Satellites) which deliver the two major components operators look for - cost saving and increased productivity. GPS has been struggling to break out of location and navigation though - fleet managers are looking for systems which can not only guide the driver, but provide advance warning of truck faults, service requirements, provide safety log information and even integrate with HOS compliance and other regulatory requirements.
How soon will it be before this new technology makes it to the industry? Hard to say, but next time you are looking at what options that truck for sale comes with, take a good hard look at the inbuilt technology because that is going to make a world of difference in your productivity and operator profitability.