2021 Trucking Tech Trend Wrap Up

Another year has come and gone. Gen Z told us our skinny jeans and side parts were out of style, sweater vests made a comeback, and we all spent another year riding the wave of COVID-19. And, in the world where technology is influencing everything we do – from what we buy to how we connect – transportation is no stranger to its impact. Trends have the ability to influence every industry and the technology of transportation is no exception.

Tech Trend #1: CASE

CASE – which stands for Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric – was a hit amongst industry leaders as carriers looked for opportunities for growth, development and ways to improve recognition.

Connected. The first part of CASE covers API’s and how companies are moving data from one point to another. Addressing how to change processes from manual to automated is all about efficiency and improved decision-making for the future as technology continues to be developed.

“When I think of connected, I think of our integration with vendors and service providers across our network. It allows us to communicate more efficiently with them and make sure they get the data they need.” – Product Manager of Werner’s Tech Platform, Maintenance/Equipment and Terminal Network, Tristan Nolan.

Autonomous. With supply chain constraints impacting American buying habits, adoption of autonomy presented opportunities for increases in productivity, revenue, utilization of fleets and fuel efficiency downstream.

Shared. Shared assets and benefits put an emphasis on the ability of fleets to improve utilization and ultimately streamline the operations process. Expanding the reach of internal and external assets encourages growth and development. Exploration of the shared asset ecosystem in 2021 encouraged actively looking at integrations that allow for more effective management and full utilization of that asset pool.

Electric. Opportunities to go electric go hand in hand with autonomy and the ability to autonomize the systems to increase productivity, revenue and fleet utilization. Eco-focused companies are looking to capitalize on the electric movement to find solutions and meet environmental regulations and reduce their carbon footprint.

Tech Trend #2: IoT and Big Data

IoT (Internet of Things) and Big Data are increasing in relevance each year as the need for connectivity throughout industries increases. While each of these represents a broad stroke in the realm of technology, the biggest advantage of the two is the connective opportunities they provide throughout all devices.

“The technology I think is most important right now are connected devices. When we think about the landscape of the IoT and SMART devices, it’s a big world. When we talk about trucking moving towards automation, electric vehicles and all the aspects of that CASE acronym, that connected component is really what drives all of that.”  – Werner Data Scientist, David Cavanaugh

IoT describes the network of physical objects – the tablets, apps, phones, trucks that can be embedded with sensors, software and technology, giving it the ability to exchange data with other systems and networks. IoT can be leveraged in cases of asset tracking, predictive and preventative maintenance and safety.

It’s important to also address what makes “Big Data” so big. Volume, velocity and variety in the data provided are bringing new opportunities to the way this information can be organized, understood and leveraged.

“Technology and the ability to communicate across devices will enable teams to support cleaner operations in the future,” said Nolan. “More data is available over air, giving us opportunity to capitalize on proactive and predictive maintenance and more efficient routing for our trucks and drivers.”

2022: What’s on The Horizon

Technology is just as likely to change over time, just like fashion. And while skinny jeans may be back in style by next season, you can expect Big Data, IoT and CASE to hold relevancy for the long haul. Additionally, as we look at what’s to come in 2022, the industry can expect a larger emphasis on safety technology, security and digital platforms – all of which are extensions of what was developed in 2021.

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