Exciting Applications of IoT Route Optimization for Truckers

The Internet of Things (IoT) is starting to cause massive positive changes throughout the logistics industry and for individual truck drivers. Many applications for the IoT in logistics can verify where certain deliveries are at any point in the supply chain and if any issues crop up.

Then, the IoT improves trucking by showing drivers optimized routes for getting deliveries to their destinations on time. Such details can prevent them from getting frustrated by traffic backups, accidents, or other mishaps.

The IoT can also give more visibility into what’s happening on the road. That’s vital — especially since a single truck accident could cost $74,000, according to one industry source. Here’s a closer look at why the Internet of Things is a game-changer for trucking professionals and route optimization.

Getting More Insights Into Driver Behaviors and Feelings

Having a driving-based career can be stressful. Even if someone carefully follows all the rules of the road, they still have to contend with everyone else potentially getting distracted, becoming upset, or completely ignoring the best practices for safe driving. Of course, even the safest drivers aren’t perfect, so they could also find distractions.

The IoT improves trucking by showing people more details about how drivers feel. One French automotive tech company even released a product that tracked drivers’ heart rates, giving clues when they might be stressed and need a break.

Dispatchers could use that information in route planning. If a driver registers a long period of an elevated heart rate, the person in charge of routing might suggest pulling over at a gas station or ending their shift early.

Using the IoT in logistics also highlights driver behaviors that could impact routing. Thanks to IoT sensors, the person overseeing routing could notice a driver taking longer at each stop than most of their peers or having a higher percentage of idle time. Those are two things training and coaching could improve. Additionally, such behaviors may mean the driver who shows them may not get scheduled to handle the most-urgent deliveries.

People in many roles — within and outside of trucking — often bottle up their feelings and don’t mention if they’re under too much pressure until the situation feels nearly unbearable. However, IoT sensors could reduce such issues by making people more aware of what’s happening. That could mean drivers get sensor data confirming they’re under too much stress, or dispatchers might notice particular red flags.

Shortening the Time Needed to Get Emergency Servicing

Keeping an industrial fleet running smoothly means knowing the correct times to perform certain upkeep activities. Cleaning a truck’s diesel particulate filter is a good example — that should ideally occur every 50,000 miles (tompsontrucksource dot com) or once per year. Otherwise, the vehicle is at risk of engine failure and costly downtime.

However, even the most well-maintained trucks could break down without warning. IoT sensors tend to reduce that likelihood by making people aware of issues earlier.

Researchers also proposed another option, examining how the IoT could make roadside assistance services more efficient. This technology could give crews information about stranded vehicles before arriving at the scene and provide routing details to reduce the timeframes associated with receiving assistance. 

The results indicated that such a service would increase customer loyalty and satisfaction among those using it. That makes sense, especially considering how upsetting it can be to deal with vehicle breakdowns.

Those same issues can make life incredibly challenging for professional truckers who must meet tight deadlines. Similarly, using the IoT in logistics like this could prevent vehicular failures contributing to perishable-good spoilage or causing essential items to arrive late.

A vehicle’s onboard IoT sensors could also guide a driver to the closest service center once they detect a problem needing urgent attention. In such cases, IoT technology typically works with artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. It’s then possible to predict that a component will fail soon, giving people time to address the matter.

Since truckers often cross state boundaries and country borders during their routes, they probably won’t know the closest places to go for vehicle servicing. Connected sensors could show them the nearest options and send information about a vehicle’s problem to the service provider before arrival. The IoT improves trucking by providing relevant and timely information.

Seeing How the IoT Improves Trucking Efficiency

Statistics from April 2021 showed 30% of global customers expect deliveries to arrive within 24 hours. Additionally, 46% of people want their goods to come two to three days after ordering. It’s undeniable that individuals in today’s society have high expectations for delivery times.

How things turn out is not solely up to the truckers who bring the items to people’s doorsteps. After all, there are other parties handling the goods as well. Even so, using the IoT in logistics can give people more control over some parts of the process.

A Berlin-based company called LivingPackets shows how the IoT could make shipping and deliveries more sustainable. It’s a packaging-as-a-service company selling connected, reusable containers as alternatives to traditional options.

Recipients and merchants can track parcels every step of the way due to IoT connectivity. An app shows each part of the delivery process, making it easier to track when and why something went wrong. A person can also use an app to change delivery details on the fly. That’s because each container has an electronic-ink screen, allowing the quick updating of information.

Suppose a recipient forgets to add delivery instructions or remembers they’ll be at the office rather than home on a particular day — they can go to the app to specify those things. Such information helps truckers work more efficiently, particularly when handling last-mile deliveries. 

Reducing the Effects of Traffic Congestion

Efforts to apply the IoT in logistics and trucking often relate to safety. For example, Ford recently began testing a sensor setup that creates a virtual boundary (iotworldtoday dot com) where a driver can only navigate at certain speeds.

For truckers, staying within the speed limit keeps themselves and everyone else safer. However, speed is often necessary for other professionals who spend significant portions of their time on the road. Such is the case for first responders.

Researchers explored how the IoT could be instrumental in guiding ambulances and similar vehicles to their destinations so they encounter minimal traffic congestion. Their solution relied on the connected sensors receiving live traffic updates. However, there was also an aspect where everyday individuals use an Android app to provide crowdsourced information about traffic backups.

This approach uses geotagged sensors placed at strategic intervals along the roadside. They continually collect information to detect the amount of traffic at any given time. The people working on this project suggested the outcomes could help improve emergency services response times in smart cities.

It’s easy to see how this idea could expand to include truckers, too. If people want their parcels to arrive on time, they might be especially willing to contribute to a crowdsourcing app helping it happen.

Applying the IoT in Logistics is Worth Consideration

Using the IoT in logistics is not something people should expect to do successfully in a matter of weeks. People must have enough time and financial resources to help such projects pay off. Getting feedback from truckers is vital, too.

The examples here show how the IoT improves trucking. These outcomes will be most impactful when they directly connect to identified challenges professional truckers face.

Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Zetong Li; Unsplash; Thank you!

Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a technical and industrial journalist. She regularly covers stories about how technology is changing the industrial sector.

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