If you still associate semi trucks (also known as “18-wheelers”) with the version driven by the late, great Burt Reynolds in the movie Smokey and the Bandit, you’ve missed about 40 years of technological advancements in the trucking industry. Today’s trucks are equipped with detailed GPS navigation and tracking devices, sensitive diagnostic systems, radar sensors to signal potential driving dangers, full-screen backup and side-view monitors, and more. And get ready, because fully automated self-driving big rigs are already developed and currently being highway-tested.
These improvements forced every type of business or organization contingent to the trucking industry to improve their technological offerings to better serve the needs of the sophisticated semi, its owners and operators, and those providers who serve their increasingly complex needs, like repair shops.
Parts and Service Shops
For repair shops servicing heavy-duty trucks, keeping technicians and equipment up to date with the latest trucking technologies is an ongoing challenge. Leaders in the trucking service industry predict that today’s shortage of diesel technicians will only worsen in the coming years as more techs need to understand and repair complex, evolving systems such as emissions, collision avoidance, and fuel management.
High-tech problems require high-tech solutions, so in addition to employees, shops must add and constantly update their software to diagnose engine repairs, create and manage invoices, monitor service records, and track time spent on each job. Software that bundles multiple options into one easy-to-manage, highly connected platform is ideal, and reduces the time that shop owners and technicians must spend working on clunky computer systems which are cobbled together.
Fleet Owners and Managers
To fleet owners, creating more efficient transportation practices, increasing driver/truck safety, and reducing costs — while at the same time maintaining meticulous compliance with various government entities — are all crucial to effective fleet management. Cloud-based technologies are extremely effective in helping to manage these fleet risks.
Today’s owners and managers use software programs and mobile device apps to track all aspects of each truck in its fleet, from current speeds and braking patterns of the drivers to upcoming warranty expirations and repair schedules. Fleet maintenance software for trucking companies also helps fleet managers keep detailed records of every service performed on a particular vehicle, in addition to tracking the exact location of a fleet vehicle at any time. Knowing what was done to a vehicle, plus when and where the repairs were made, is valuable information for fleet managers who are tasked with ensuring that every truck continues to operate as safely and as efficiently as possible.
Truck Owners and Operators
The days of CB radio and its colorful “10-4 good buddy” lingo aren’t entirely forgotten, but communication among truck dispatchers, ownership, and drivers has also gone high-tech. Apps now simplify the process of messaging groups or individual drivers, and most trucks are equipped with devices that create communication connections with GPS and other technology.
A truly useful development for drivers are apps that locate nearby repair shops when an unexpected breakdown occurs. Using geofencing technology, these apps help operators quickly pinpoint and contact a provider which offers the type of service the truck needs to get back on the road. This same system also displays special deals and discounts available at businesses the driver passes along their route, which is also a marketing benefit for parts and service providers.
Like other industries, the technological revolution shows no signs of slowing down within the world of heavy-duty trucking. But with software and systems evolving just as quickly, everyone involved in the trucking industry, and those with whom they share the road, can be assured that today’s big trucks are safer and more closely monitored than ever before.