trucksHow are various kinds of sensors being used in your supply chain, and do they make a difference? Here’s a look at transportation and the use of a variety of sensors, black boxes, and mobile computing that are driving efficiency and already showing up on trucking fleets.

Navigation - GPS and navigation has been with us for some time but is now being linked to dispatch and real time assistance systems that monitor truck location and help drivers maneuver around traffic and other hazards.

Telematics - In general telematics is a catch-phrase for the technology that connects vehicles with other vehicles, dispatch, and generally move data through wireless networks. Telematics is a significant force in connecting multiple vehicles to form what’s called platooning, coordinating the actions of groups of vehicles.

IoT devices - Components throughout the vehicle are becoming smart and connected. Purpose built software embedded in vehicle and trailers are communicating through telematics to each other and to their centralized operations. This increased granular understanding of conditions connected to analytics engines lets operations maximize conditions and usage to increase efficiency and deliver savings.

Augmented reality - The increased use of heads-up-displays (HUD) and driver-worn digitized eye glasses is already delivering better visibility with less eye-glance activity. Drivers can keep their eyes on the road and still monitor critical conditions while also communicating with text and voice hands-free.

Platooning - This is the beginning of the autonomous trucking wave that promises to make the trucking industry safer and less expensive. It’s estimated that in 10 years platooning and autonomous / driverless trucks will reduce expenses by more than $1,500 per truck per year.

Increased fuel efficiency - Trucks are becoming more aerodynamic as tractor and trailer designs are reducing drag by as much as 25%. That can translate into a 5% to 15% reduction in fuel consumption. It’s been proven that wheel covers alone can produce a fuel savings of from $500 to $800 per year. In addition the addition of ‘trailer trails’ and related aerodynamic add-ons is claimed to deliver more than 5% fuel savings.

Powertrain modifications - Combinations of changes including electrification, alternative fuels, and smaller engines are making incremental reductions in fuel consumption.

More advances are coming as economic and competitive pressures bear on trucking and supply chain efficiency. These are just a few of the main topics showing promise.

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