Covid-19 accelerated technology trends in trucking. It pulled the industry years into the future.
More processes became digitized, automated and completely paperless. More mobile applications were deployed to drivers to capture documents and facilitate contactless delivery. More IT infrastructure moved to the cloud to make working remotely easy and seamless.
The pandemic and wild market swings created a great deal of noise and demanded fast and frequent responses from supply chain executives. But, through it all, technology continued to forge ahead, solving the problems of today and positioning trucking companies for the possibilities of tomorrow.
We thought we’d take a stab at highlighting a few trends we think should be top-of-mind as we head into the new year.1. Trucks will become a digital hub on wheels.
The Canadian ELD mandate will take effect in 2021. Trailer tracking, predictive maintenance, video-camera mirrors, tire sensors, over-the-air engine updates, automated driving features—the list goes on and on and will only continue to grow as every part of the truck goes digital.
As a result, trucking companies will start thinking about trucks as the new digital platform on which to build, if they haven’t already.
What mix of software and hardware will set your fleet up for success? Having a good answer to that question will be critical in 2021.2. Trucking companies will become data-driven businesses
As trucks and workflows become more digital, more data gets produced. Mountains of data.
That data needs to be cleansed and structured properly so that it can be analyzed and used to fuel continuous improvement. That requires a formal data strategy.
Big data has been a buzzword for a long time. In 2021, more trucking companies will recognize that they need to go beyond the buzz and dig into the details to figure out how they’re going to compete and differentiate in a digital, data-driven world.3. Technology will become a differentiator for companies looking to recruit and retain top-tier truck drivers.
The pandemic has made the driver shortage more severe. The job became less desirable overnight. Fewer new drivers received training. And older drivers continued to retire.
A strong and supportive company culture, good pay and new equipment have long been the core pillars of any recruitment and retention program. In 2021, having the latest and greatest technology will get added to that list.
Drivers are becoming increasingly aware that the right technology can make their lives easier. Less paperwork. Quicker pickups and dropoffs. More miles.
This starts with the recruitment process and runs all the way through to how they get paid. In 2021, drivers will be less willing to work for companies that are behind the times and more willing to leave for the promise of better tech.4. Trucking companies will demand “solutions” from their technology partners.
2020 opened eyes to what’s possible when there’s real urgency.
Faster, smoother implementations. Better-looking and easier-to-use interfaces. Cloud-based and optimized for mobile. The promise of technology is that it compounds. It builds on itself to become better, faster, cheaper.
For far too long, that hasn’t been true in trucking. In 2021, the expectations of supply chain executives will continue to rise and vendors will be forced to innovate to meet them.5. The buzzwords will continue to be mostly buzz.
Blockchain and AI will make more headlines, but real-world applications will continue to be few, far between and mostly fiction.
Their time will come. It just won’t be in 2021.
The Road Ahead
The mega-technology trends tend not to change. They might slow down, speed up or leap ahead, but their direction is steady.
In 2021, trucking will become more digital, more automated, and more data driven. And trucking companies will continue to adapt. They’ll find ways to leverage the newest capabilities in their fleets and in their offices. They’ll find ways to harness the power of data to make better, more proactive decisions. They’ll find ways to deliver the world’s freight faster, safer and more efficiently than ever before.
With any luck, 2021 will see a return to normal. Only better. If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that trucking companies will continue to push ahead, come what may.
Founded in 1995 and headquartered in Markham, Ontario, Microdea is a fast growing document management and automation software company serving hundreds of customers in the transportation and logistics industry, including truckload and LTL carriers, private fleets, brokers and 3PLs.