If you’re not connected, then you’re getting left behind. Connectivity in the transport industry started way back in the 1990s and with the current technological advancements, connectivity and technology are moving at a rapid pace.
Connectivity is a highly competitive arena, with truck manufacturers now competing with tracking companies and fleet management operations. However much of the information can only come from the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Today the OEMs have more responsibility to provide a total solution including management services and connectivity. The OEMs have taken technology a notch higher and are building a great deal of the technology into their trucks these days but how much it is used only depends on how professional the operator is.
The subject of connectivity has moved way beyond the simple matter of monitoring fuel consumption or tracking the location of a vehicle. It is about monitoring driver behaviour, which can result in data that improves consumption and emissions, as well as improving road safety.
There are then options for data analysis which can report on a wide range of factors and provide weekly or monthly scoring as well as real-time data.
Some of that data, particularly in the area of driver behaviour, can even be supplied to the latest developments such as the smart watch for instance an Apple Watch, it replaces the last generation Sony model and can be worn by the driver to provide instant stats and communication and even monitor a driver’s health on the road.
Practical fashion aside, it is a serious business and is becoming more so as the pressure increases on truck manufacturers in the face of rapid development when it comes to connectivity.
Connectivity makes it easier for to assist customers. It is all about improving uptime. This will include driver coaching, where a driver is under constant external assessment and is then contacted on a regular basis to receive advice on how to improve.
Unfortunately, technology cannot always keep pace with constant changes in drivers. Unlike in Europe, drivers in Africa change constantly, making ongoing coaching difficult. The solution is professional drivers who remain with an operator for the long term. This is equally important when it comes to technology because they need to understand the tech in the vehicles and how it relates to the systems and processes utilised by a transport firm.
Driver training is key but, again, drivers need to remain with an operator for this to have the most benefit to the driver, the company, other road users and the economy.
Platooning, where trucks talk to each other and travel in a convoy managed by the lead truck, is a great opportunity for fleet owners. This view has been echoed by other truck manufacturers too, but its implementation has not yet been discussed in a local context.