The transportation industry moves surprisingly quickly ― both literally and in terms of innovation. Thanks to advancements in automobile technology, commercial trucks are becoming incredibly futuristic, with features that sci-fi writers could barely imagine; tech like alternative fuel use, intelligent radar, built-in logistics, and so much more.
Most of these improvements have made drivers’ jobs easier, but they have also wildly benefitted commercial trucking companies, who are seeing a sizable boost to business thanks to tech that allows for better efficiency and more productivity. Here are a few of the most impressive developments in recent years that have truly made an impact on business.
Thanks to a lengthy legacy of commercial trucks driven throughout the 20th century, engineering teams have an overwhelming amount of information to use to develop vehicles perfectly suited to the trucking industry’s needs. Before a concept even reaches the assembly line, manufacturers are able to locate potential faults in the design and fine-tune the specs to boost vehicle performance on the road. Additionally, most manufacturing processes make use of advanced robotics, which ensure accurate production of each vehicle part for precision performance.
For example, though the broad and boxy style is traditional in commercial trucks, more and more truck makers are creating sleek tractors (like these) and trailer add-ons to enhance vehicles’ aerodynamics. The improved airflow reduces drag and improves fuel efficiency, which certainly benefits trucking businesses, which are experiencing increasing duress for fuel usage from governments and environmental groups ― not to mention their own accounting departments.
Enhanced Fuel Options
Diesel has allowed the trucking industry to become what it is, but the unpredictable costs of fuel have encouraged many business owners to look for alternatives. Fortunately, there are some outstanding fuel options that are either already available or on the brink of release. Here are the six most popular and most plausible alternative fuels for commercial transportation:
Biodiesel. Created from animal or vegetable fats, biodiesel easily replaces traditional diesel without any engine modifications. Plus, it releases fewer emissions and is already available at stations around the U.S.
Ethanol. A mixture of corn (and other plants) and gasoline, ethanol produces fewer greenhouse gases, and ethanol engines can digest standard gasoline, as well. Like biodiesel, there are thousands of ethanol stations established around the country for truckers to utilize.
Natural gas. A handful of truck manufacturers are producing trucks that run on natural gas, but few trucking companies are adopting this alternative fuel tech. The primary reason seems to be the cost of the modified trucks and fuel, which has exceeded diesel in recent years.
Propane. As with natural gas, some manufacturers already produce propane trucks, but the higher prices of the vehicles puts most fleet owners off. Still, propane is remarkably cheaper than diesel, and standard gasoline vehicles can be converted relatively cheaply.
Electricity. There are various types of electric commercial trucks available, including hybrids and plug-ins. The problem with fully electric engines is their limited power; currently, only medium-duty trucks have full-electric capability, and even they can only travel about 100 miles before requiring recharging. Still, the tech continues to develop, and more practical electric solutions may be on the horizon.
Hydrogen. Every year researchers get closer to releasing hydrogen fuel cell technology, but as yet, a few obstacles remain before the trucking industry can make use of this outstanding, sustainable resource, namely the costly process of hydrogen extraction and the existing uses for the U.S.’s current hydrogen reserves.
While autonomous vehicles remain untested in the transportation industry, a number of the technologies that help driverless cars function are able to help truck drivers on the road. Sensors that monitor speed, distance, and obstructions can keep drivers and their cargo safe and on-time during long-distance trips.
Platooning is perhaps one of the best applications of this tech. By grouping trucks in tight formations, companies can more efficiently transport goods and reduce fuel usage. In the past, such behavior was discouraged because maintaining a close proximity to another heavy-duty truck was incredibly dangerous. However, with a smart front-end collision avoidance system and digital communication between trucks, the system is more plausible.
Technology is good for businesses, and tech-powered trucks are likely to make the transportation industry more productive and more profitable than ever before. Business owners should look forward to more innovations and begin integrating useful technologies for business boons.