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The Internet of Things: What the Transportation Industry Needs to Move Forward?

Posted by Ian Uriarte

June 30, 2021

The internet of things (IoT) is quickly becoming best practices for industrial companies looking to optimize operations and improve business process management (BPM). Industrial IoT (IIoT) is in the business of retrieving data in real-time to use in predictive analytics and big data analysis. So what are the implications of industrial IoT in the transportation industry?

A long line of fleet trucks

Data aggregation (the process of gathering and summarizing large amounts of data) is making great strides in the trucking industry. Specifically, fleet management stands to benefit from the data and information that IIoT provides to fleet managers and supply chain leaders.

The Evolution of Industrial IoT in Transportation

When IoT in trucking originally started out, it was much more restricted than today. We would place local sensors on trucks and other assets. These sensors picked up data, such as:

  • Speed
  • Fuel consumption
  • Odometer readers

While these data points may sound a lot like the factors that we still measure today, there is one big difference. We’d have to periodically manually download and process the data, in order to get any actionable insights. It wasn’t very agile, convenient, or quick. But a lot has changed in the last few decades.

A drone shot of the highway with a fleet truck on it

Smart Fleet Management Leads to Efficiency

Nowadays, with modern industrial IoT for the transportation industry, we outfit fleet trucks with computers, antennas, and more sophisticated sensors. These devices wirelessly send data to a central location where people can see the data in real-time. Asset management software processes the data within an IoT platform, which provides key analytics to management. We’re able to manage and monitor lots of things, like:

  • Driver performance
  • Speed optimization
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Route planning
  • Idling times

The ultimate goal is overall efficiency and savings from decreased expenses. Not only can analytics be fed into smart algorithms to optimize routes, but it can be used to compute truck loading information and synchronize with cargo and other logistics data, giving the supply chain a boost in efficiency.

What can we do with all this data?

The sky’s the limit. We’re able to monitor driving speeds, maintain transportation schedules, reduce engine idle time, reduce fleet downtime, optimize fleet routes, enable predictive vehicle maintenance, and improve fuel efficiency.

What does this look like in practice?

A while back, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saia LTL Freight using an IoT configuration to monitor fuel consumption. They were able to improve fuel efficiency by 6% and save around $15 million in their first year of IoT operation.

Industrial IoT in transportation industry infographic including benefits, value, and technologies included.

Enhanced Communication Between Drivers and Managers

With IIoT, drivers can be connected to a customized app on their phones or mobile devices that allow them to log specific data while on the road. Geographic location, cargo information, and license and permitting information can all be entered into the app and transmitted wirelessly to the central processing location. This allows fleet managers to be more efficient and better manage the day-to-day of their operations.!
Industrial IoT has been suggested to not only link the supply chain together, but also help retain drivers, which is a continuous challenge in the trucking industry. IoT helps drivers with the burden and drudgery of all the paperwork required of them to do their jobs. When drivers don’t have to be stationary as much doing paperwork, they have more available time to be on the road, delivering their shipments.

Asset Management and Optimization

Gathering large volumes of data like we do through IoT enables cognitive computing. This is the simulation of human thought processes through the power of computer processing. Remember when an IBM computer won Jeopardy in 2011? That was this same type of computing. Now it’s been a decade, and you can imagine how data mining, natural language processing, and the other complex computing technologies are driving actual predictive analytics in the logistics and supply chain industries today.

For the trucking industry, there is no limit to the possibilities such analytics can provide. And it’s easier than ever.

Asset Management Technologies

IBM Maximo software can easily process the data that sensors retrieve. It’s one of the most effective enterprise asset management (EAM) software solutions out there. With the resulting insights, organizations can actually engineer how they would like to manage their fleet assets. When combined with IoT technology like the IBM Watson IoT Platform, they can do even more. Transportation companies can create applications to use for fleet operations, as well as maintenance, hazardous material transport, hazardous waste disposal, and more.

A close up on a truck driver's hands on the steering wheel

Great Things to Come for IIoT in the Transportation Industry

Overall, the internet of things has made great strides for the trucking industry. In reality, it has helped out the entire logistics industry, as well. Cognitive analytics made possible by IoT, optimization software, and asset management software work together to produce remarkable results. We’re not just talking about the future, either. Industrial IoT is improving the transportation industry right now.

And, as always, remember that industrial IoT is predicted to reach $263.4 billion by 2027. It’s a force to be reckoned with, whether you’re in transportation, supply chain, or any industrial business.

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