How technology will affect the LTL industry in 2018 and beyond.

July 25, 2018

Like most industries, technology has made an impact on LTL shipping in 2018, and its presence will likely continue to grow. Shippers, carriers and drivers alike have slowly but surely come to integrate technology into their processes, to the point where it has become an integral component.

While you may be aware of technology’s effects up until now, you may not know the road that lays ahead. To break things down, let’s take a closer look at the impact technology has had on the LTL industry in 2018 and where it could be headed.

What technology is important in today's LTL industry? 

Right now, electronic logging devices (ELD), real-time shipment visibility and transportation management systems (TMS) are a few of the biggest pieces of technology in the LTL industry. GPS, handheld devices and dimensionalizers are also important, as the e-commerce industry has hit a new high.

The ELD mandate is not anything new, as it first brought the need for the devices to the forefront of the industry in 2015. In the years since, electronic logging devices have become a staple for truck drivers. Whereas drivers could previously keep track of their hours of service and such on paper, an ELD allows everything to be clocked electronically. With the mandate in place, nearly every truck on the road should have an ELD installed.

Technology is also playing a role in other areas of the industry. At terminals, dimensionalizers have the ability to automatically measure the dimensions of freight, providing much more accurate measurements while hopefully reducing the number of rate adjustments in the process.

After pickup, emerging technologies such as driver and dock handheld devices provide real-time status updates. Status updates can include arrival and destination times at transfer points along with the most up to date estimated delivery time.

This type of real-time information is becoming increasingly important as late shipments or unreported delays have ripple effects on the productivity of a supply chain. And, the e-commerce industry is booming with no signs of slowing down, which only heightens the demand for effective technology. GPS and handheld devices are technological safety nets for either a smooth shipment process or making sure any issues are properly and quickly communicated.

Additionally, a transportation management system is another solution that has some extremely helpful core benefits. Right now, one TMS can typically take care of simplifying the carrier selection process, tracking freight and creating customized business reports. A TMS can be used to focus on whatever is most important to you and your business, such as transportation logistics within the supply chain.

How technology will continue to affect LTL in the future.

The LTL industry has been making moves towards incorporating more technology for quite some time now. By December 16, 2019, every truck on the road must be equipped with an ELD, which might sound like more of an undertaking than it really is. For some fleets, this may just mean a software update. For others, you will have to switch out your display monitor. Since the industry is already a good chunk of the way there - the first ELD deadline was December 18, 2017 - the final deadline may not cause as drastic of a change as some may think.

As the industry moves away from paper and pen documentation, some common shipping duties can soon be – or are already able to be – done right from your phone. The Internet of Things (IoT) is continuing to grow, and mobile apps will likely flourish in the LTL industry. Mobile apps can cover a surprising amount of ground, from inventory management to barcode scanning, upon download. Expect to see a surge in apps in conjunction with cloud-based software by the end of the year.

Alternatively, the TMS has also largely contributed to an ease of stress during the shipping process. With the number of tasks a TMS is capable of, the future could entail it becoming a component that the industry can no longer live without. Hours and hours can be spent on inefficient and time-consuming processes. A TMS does not only make up for this time, it presents you with the data you need to make important business decisions.

In the future, you can expect to see transportation management systems become more sophisticated in nature and function. Knowing what a TMS is able to do now, just think of what it will be capable of in just a few years’ time. Soon enough, you will be able to access reports and predictive analytics that will drive your business forward.

Looking to the Beyond.

If you are not currently utilizing these solutions, the time has come to consider adopting them into your shipping process. Luckily, having an ELD installed should be a quick and painless process since there isn’t exactly a wide array to choose from.

As for selecting a TMS, this is going to depend on what you’re looking to get out of the solution. No matter the system you choose to move forward with, however, you will be able to save yourself valuable time and make intelligent decisions when using a TMS.

Freightquote by C.H. Robinson has the experts on deck that you need to walk through any questions or concerns you may have about technology in the LTL industry. To speak with a freight service provider or to learn about how you can start implementing technology into your process, contact us today for more information.


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