Digital technology trends impacting freight shipping.

digital technology in freight shipping

The shipping industry is on the peak of a massive transformation as today’s modern freight shippers rely on new and powerful digital technologies to accelerate efficiency. Change can be tough, but shippers realize that if they want to compete, they’ll need to abandon their old methods to truly find success.

With so much new and promising technology, shippers are installing and deploying new applications with great success. Here’s a look at some of the latest digital technology trends and the impact they’ve had over the last few years.


Internet of Things (IoT).

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the technological advancements that most people overlook when thinking about the freight shipping industry. For example, as freight journeys through highways, the sensors onboard the truck collect, send and receive information from cloud-based management software, improving equipment functionality and route efficiency. With an ever-increasing number of connected devices, analytics technology, and smart sensors, freight shippers are able to relax and enjoy the endless benefits that accompany this new technology.

However, before the IoT became popular within the freight shipping industry, many of the functions now covered by the IoT were done manually, causing bottlenecks in processes. Since the implementation of the IoT, specific applications in the freight industry have seen substantial improvements, including:

  • Predictive Asset Maintenance
  • Route Optimization
  • Warehouse Optimization
  • Shipment Tracking

With its rapid growth and overwhelming benefits, the IoT has made freight shipping more efficient and increased overall productivity.


ELD Mandate.

In 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) declared a new ELD mandate would be put in place requiring all commercial motor vehicles to be equipped with Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). The ELD mandate is considered by many to be one of the biggest changes the freight shipping industry has seen in recent memory. 

The switch to ELDs has resulted in mixed feelings, as the potential impact the new mandate will have on the industry is still unclear. Nonetheless, the ELD mandate aims to improve the following areas:

  • Cost – According to FMCSA, $1.6 billion is expected to be saved annually because of the switch. Paperwork savings, reduced truck downtime, decreased fuel cost, and lowered crash rates all play roles in the massive savings.
  • Safety – It’s estimated by the FMCSA that the addition of ELDs will prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 434 injuries that happen each year due to driver fatigue.
  • Production – This is the one area that still remains murky. ELDs are meant to serve as a personal time-management system for drivers that should result in massive savings due to the amount of time drivers will save, but skeptics believe otherwise, noting that carriers in particular will actually see a dip in overall production.


Transportation Management Systems (TMS).

In the past, it was nearly impossible for small or even mid-level freight shipping companies to invest in a transportation management system (TMS), as the cost would always exceed their budget. Luckily, times have changed. Flash-forward to 2017 and recent advancements in technology made TMS much more affordable and easier to obtain.

Investing in a TMS allows businesses that rely on shipping to work with industry experts to make more educated shipping decisions. Additionally, it grants access to an online portal that helps them keep quotes organized, match loads with the right carriers, track shipments, and access reports to help back future shipping decisions with data. 


Trucking technology.

The freight shipping industry is commonly defined by the trucks and the infrastructure associated with it, but recent technology has reimagined the way we see it. Years ago, carriers would spend hours on end manually figuring out the best possible route a driver would take the next day. However, the addition of trucking technologies like GPS and autonomous trucking have finally put an end to those days.

  • GPS – Since the implementation of GPS technology, the trucking industry has experienced a greater production uptick. Utilizing faster and more efficient transportation processes, greater security of cargo transport, and better time management are some of the improvements GPS technology has brought to freight shipping.
  • Autonomous trucking – Autonomous trucks have been getting a lot of coverage recently. However, only 28% of participants in a shipper and trucking survey said that “autonomous trucks would have a medium or high impact over the coming eight years,” reports a Trucking Info article. Despite these survey findings, we seem to be getting closer and closer to autonomous trucks hitting the roadways.


Final thoughts.

Now more than ever, it’s important for freight shipping companies to stay up-to-date on these trends and developments to stay relevant. The types of technology used within the freight shipping industry have seen a dramatic change over the years. Make sure you’re aware of what’s being used and what to expect when the next wave of new technology hits.

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