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The telematics of trucking

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Distinguished Engineer, Chief Technology Officer Automotive Industry Japan, IBM

Transportation and logistics services are changing, thanks in part to the recent electronic logging mandate passed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

There’s a large quantity of older, low-tech trucks tethered to the past. CB radios, the gold standard of fleet communications since 1945, have been relied upon for decades—and nothing so far has been able to supplant their ubiquity. But now, with these new regulations, there may be an increased motivation in the fleet trucking business to embrace new, disruptive mobility solutions.

One option is the incorporation of connected Internet of Things (IoT) dongles that enable additional functions and configurations for varied business models and service providers. Automotive OEMs could certify dongles for their manufactured vehicles while mobility service may be certified by select providers.

Another option ties into the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon. Smartphones and other wireless devices can be used as official electronic logging devices (ELDs), so there’s an opportunity for fleet communication applications to step up and help fulfill the ELD mandate.

These sorts of apps won’t just fulfill federal regulations; they’ll provide benefits to drivers, who will enjoy a seamless experience when they get behind the wheel. Drivers will be able to connect to their life on the road—and at home—by using a simple, integrated interface to:

  • Use voice-to-command technology
  • Enable rich functions
  • Enhance the overall driving experience
  • Engage other drivers
  • Share information and interests with other drivers
  • Report updates to managers
  • Identify partner savings opportunities (such as reward programs for doing business at a certain gas station or restaurant chain)

Next-generation fleet communications at work in the real world

It’s a win-win on paper, hypothetically. Fleet managers, too, will profit from this innovation; with the continued use of fleet analytics and accessibility to greater amounts of data, fleets will become more efficient and operate with fewer resources.

But what does all of this really look like for an actual truck driver facing real-world situations? We’ve taken a “day-in-the-life” approach, following “Takuya Sato’s” journey as a driver, highlighting his experiences in this detail-rich journey map.

By enabling older and lower-tech vehicles to gain the mobility features of new models, we’re helping to carry the transportation and logistics industry forward into the connected future.