Self-driving cars and fully autonomous vehicles? How about a convenient transport system that will bring higher levels of efficiency to the general public? The future is now, and that isn’t just an advertising slogan. New technologies for production and distribution promise to bring higher levels of efficiency to the transportation business and could change the trucking industry forever.
As the economy grows, so do the needs and demands of people. Tons of products are being transported every day, and trucking businesses are always finding ways to speed up operations without sacrificing quality and safety. And with the advent of new transportation technologies, even the simplest delivery of goods from point A to point B could change forever. From production to distribution and protecting businesses, the future of transport is here to make our lives easier.
3D printing may localize manufacturing
3D printing isn’t new, and we have seen prototypes of these high-tech machines producing different kinds of goods from household accessories to fashion items. But with decades of innovation, 3D printing will soon enter the world of industrial manufacturing with full-scale capabilities, and this will affect the majority of consumer goods being shipped from overseas where manpower and raw materials are more affordable.
Direct-metal printing, in particular, will revolutionize most industries and ready-made items as well as made-to-order products shipped abroad will likely be affected. While the demand for shipping overseas may see a decline, this may simply be due to a change in what is being transported. Instead of finished goods, it’s expected that there will be an increase in raw materials, tools, and equipment needed for 3D printing, ensuring the security of the trucking industry from the consequences of emerging technology.
- Additive manufacturing is on the rise as is being able to produce movable and durable products.
- A change in demand means that trucking businesses should foresee the needed change in gear.
- Localized manufacturing may reduce the travel time of delivering goods and products.
A number of companies are working on developing self-driving vehicles. While we don't have all the kinks worked out yet and some infrastructure challenges still remain, especially in more crowded urban and suburban areas. But, where there's a will there's a way and the automotive industry, as well as several tech giants in the U.S. and elsewhere, are steadily at work on making self-driving vehicles a ubiquitous reality.
However, self-driving vehicles are only the beginning. Future transportation technology is constantly evolving, so it’s no surprise to see modernization of long-distance hauling and underground tunnels, and even the use of drones for local deliveries. Additionally, there are certain companies like Hyperloop One that aim to deliver products at blazing fast speeds through the use of road linkages and other infrastructures.
- Innovative transport systems that use full automation are now being used in logistics. The company Embark uses robotic self-driving trucks to deliver home appliances in California, and, instead of being completely self-driving, there is a human driver that monitors the system of the truck.
Electric and hybrid trucks
We have seen the modernization of public transportation, electric cars and hybrid vehicles that are now running in major cities, and it’s no wonder that these technologies will soon be implemented in the trucking industry. Diesel-powered trucks may soon be gone forever as automotive manufacturers start to use battery-powered vehicles and hybrid motors.
Tesla, the luxury vehicle giant, has started partnerships with various companies to develop an electric rig called the “Spry.” Equipped with a high torque motor, the company has already garnered 2,000 pre-orders for this all-electric vehicle. Aside from Tesla, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its own version of an e-Truck that can haul up to 26 tons of goods with full production set to start by 2020.
Stats around the world:
- In Norway, there is a huge surge of demand for electric vehicles, reaching up to a third of sales.
- There are 120,000 zero emission electric buses already up and running in China.
- European countries such as Denmark and Finland are also leading the use of electric vehicles.
The topic of how many hours a year are lost to sitting in traffic is something most truckers and trucking companies don't want to think about. Everyone hates traffic, and truck drivers have no time to spare on the road, especially if they have cargo that needs to be delivered. In the trucking industry, following the fastest route is a key business optimizer. Delivering goods from point A to point B with no delays from roadblocks is the ultimate mission.
GPS is nothing new, and all drivers from different parts of the world have used Google Maps and Waze. But in the trucking business, a new GPS technology aims to improve route density and distance traveled. Dynamic routing software calculates the fastest route available and constantly updates the driver regarding congestion issues and other road obstacles.
- Dynamic routing is flexible; it adapts to your needs such as a surge in deliveries.
- It can be combined with other trucking applications or with a team of people to optimize results.
- Modern GPS devices can plan a trip and make necessary adjustments when required.
More accurate insurance rating
Last but not the least, with future transportation technology that will affect the trucking industry, it’s important to consider truck insurance. Premiums are determined based on risks and insured value. Risks can be difficult to assess and can be subjective, which makes pricing challenging sometimes. But with the internet of things (IoT), smart devices and modern gadgets could help assess truck insurance needs.
In the trucking industry, the use of devices that can collect, monitor, and share data in real-time could potentially help avoid erroneous estimations. Sensors and biometric data, for example, when installed on trucks can collate valuable data that will help both the owner and insurance company to understand risks.