Like so many industries today, freight shipping is being transformed by advanced technologies. All these technologies share two goals: to make freight shipping more efficient and less expensive. In the world of freight-shipping technology, the concept of driverless freight-shipping trucks gets the lion’s share of the press, but it is still years away from being a major factor in freight shipping. Meanwhile, other technologies are currently in development, being tested or already in use today. Here are a few advanced technologies in freight shipping that are in various stages of development, from the drawing board to testing to initial rollout.
Technologies Adopted from the Passenger Vehicle Market
Adaptive cruise control and lane centering steering are two technologies already in use in passenger vehicles. They keep vehicles a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of them and alert drivers when they are in danger of accidentally leaving their lane. Adopting these technologies in new freight-shipping trucks will improve safety and help reduce driver stress, both of which will help make drivers more productive.
Internet of Things (IoT)
By connecting to on-board censors and traffic-reporting applications, carriers and drivers are increasingly able to see valuable data in real time, such as:
- Exact vehicle locations
- Temperature inside the vehicle
- Most efficient route considering expected delivery time, load and fuel usage
Collectively, this information helps ensure that cargo is delivered as agreed at the lowest cost in the shortest amount of time.
LTL shipping is like carpooling, but with freight cargo instead of people. A truck is filled with shipments that begin and (usually) end at different places. Algorithmic pooling uses machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence, to determine which freight should go in which trucks. It makes sure that trucks are filled with cargo that is all going in the same direction.
Algorithmic pooling saves freight dispatchers from having to perform the same time-consuming processes for every shipment and every truck. Plus, algorithmic pooling is free of human error.
Algorithmic pooling blurs the difference between full truckload and less-than-truckload shipping, routing drivers to pickups and deliveries without the need to stop at terminals in between. That gives it the potential to use Full Truckload vehicles for LTL shipments, making it a true game-changing technology. You’re likely to hear more about algorithmic pooling in 2020 and beyond.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Polaris, a Canadian LTL carrier that specializes in cross-border shipments, had been using optical character recognition (OCR) and other common time-saving office technologies for years. But they were still unhappy with the amount of unproductive time their personnel had to spend entering keystrokes for every order.
To improve their handling of the intricate processes involved with each customs application, the company broke down every process and created a robotic process automation or RPA solution that uses bots to do the mundane work that formerly required human attention. As a result, Polaris saves 2-3 hours in customs processing each day and overtime is down 30-40 percent.
Polaris has proven that RPA holds a lot of promise for the freight-shipping industry. In time, we expect to see many carriers digitally upgrade their processes to save time and money and passing those savings on to shippers.
A very large LTL carrier has begun experimenting with predictive analytics in an attempt to develop a new variable pricing model that would do all of the following:
- Take all current circumstances into consideration automatically
- Offer shippers a fair price based on those real-time circumstances
- Make a consistent profit
This is an intriguing idea that could make real-time pricing more reflective of circumstances on the road.
More to Come in Freight Shipping
Competition among carriers ensures that all parties will continue to develop and experiment with new technologies in an ongoing effort to lower prices and raise profits. We look forward to seeing these advanced technologies in freight shipping put into use to make your freight shipping experiences more efficient.
Similar competition takes place among third party logistics providers like FreightCenter. We always have a keen eye on new ways to make freight shipping easy, successful and affordable for our business and individual customers.