It’s no longer “news” that artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way humans do just about everything. Even though driving a truck and hauling a semi trailer is very much a hands-on skill, the technology is affecting our industry, too.

AI won’t replace drivers on a large scale in the short term. However, it’s already providing valuable assistance to companies that depend on the smooth and consistent movement of raw materials, components and goods.

What Has Enabled the AI Revolution in Trucking?

Going back just a few decades, trucks didn’t have much you could call “hi-tech.” The only computers involved in the transportation industry were the ones used in offices by companies to do things like create spreadsheets and manage employee payroll.

A significant leap occurred in the form of so-called cloud computing. Rather than information residing primarily or exclusively on the hard drives of a company’s computers, it was suddenly “out there” in the cloud. That meant you could access it (and add to it) from anywhere with an internet connection. And very quickly, “anywhere” came to include the cab of a truck.

Meanwhile, computer experts were learning how to design systems that “think” like humans and, consequently, can handle complex tasks. That brings us to today, with AI able to coordinate the receiving, storing and manipulating of data that resides in the cloud to improve transportation-related activities.

How AI Benefits Transportation Operations

Whether your company provides transportation services or simply transports products you produce, you can benefit from AI in several ways. As your drivers are hauling semi trailers to locations near and far, intelligent systems can:

  • Enhance route planning and optimization. AI systems can help fleet managers plan routes to minimize travel time, fuel consumption and transportation costs and maximize customer satisfaction. They do this by reviewing a wide variety of data, including everything from past trips to anticipated weather conditions. The result is improved logistics and more resilient supply chains.
  • Assess real-time traffic conditions and provide options. Even the most carefully planned routes can be disrupted by unexpected traffic changes. AI can analyze data on the movement of vehicles on roadways in real time, identify bottlenecks and provide drivers with alternate routes. This can help them avoid delays, stay on schedule, and meet commitments, preventing late-delivery penalties. In addition, a reputation for on-time deliveries can open the door to future business opportunities.
  • Detect vehicle problems to enable proactive maintenance and repairs. In the past, drivers only knew there was a problem with their truck or semi trailer when they heard, saw or felt the symptoms of those issues. Today, AI can detect the need for maintenance or repairs before there is any observable problem. This reduces vehicle downtime and can have longer-term benefits. For example, when companies are able to keep their equipment on the road consistently by proactively addressing problems, they don’t need to own as many trucks and semi trailers as backups.
  • Improve safety. AI-enabled features like lane-departure warnings, automatic braking and others have become the norm in vehicle design. These capabilities can help drivers operate their rigs more safely. They also do the same for others on the road, decreasing the risk of cars creating unsafe conditions for trucks hauling semi trailers.
  • Provide training guidance and skill development. In addition to real-time safety alerts, AI systems can capture data from truck-mounted cameras and analyze it to detect unsafe driving practices like tailgating, abrupt lane changes and others. Companies can then use that information to educate drivers on safety best practices.
  • Identify signs of fatigue and distracted driving. Driver fatigue and distractions are responsible for countless incidents every year. AI-enabled technologies like facial recognition and eye tracking can detect indicators of fatigue and distracted driving, alerting the driver and prompting them to rest or refocus.
  • Reduce liability risks and costs. The AI benefits above can lead to another critical improvement: decreased risk of incidents that can result in lawsuits and the associated legal expenses, reputational damage, etc.

Leveraging AI to Improve How You Manage Trucks and Semi Trailers

It’s understandable for trucking fleet managers, transportation managers, truck drivers and other stakeholders to view AI with skepticism or even suspicion. We’ve all seen movies or heard predictions that these systems will “take over” with terrible consequences.

However, the reality is much more positive. AI systems are helping companies streamline and simplify transportation operations, manage costs, protect drivers and improve customer satisfaction. And because organizations are increasingly adopting these tools, being proactive about doing so helps your business stay competitive. The key is to learn about the technology and implement the capabilities best suited for your company.

Boxwheel Trailer Leasing: Providing the Critical Human Perspective in an AI World

As valuable as artificial intelligence is to the transportation industry, it can’t replace the value of human perspective and interactions. These systems are “smart” but may never be “wise” the way a person is.

At Boxwheel, our founders and team members have decades of experience helping companies get the semi trailers they need to meet their delivery commitments. We understand the challenges companies face and the best strategies for addressing them in a way no AI system can.

Our deep industry insights are why businesses in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Texas turn to us for assistance. We support them with dry vans, reefers and liftgate semi trailers from leading manufacturers like Utility, Great Dane and Wabash. They use our equipment throughout the southwestern U.S. and beyond and know that when they reach out to us, they’ll connect with a knowledgeable human eager to assist them.

They also understand that whether they are renting a semi trailer to meet a short-term need or leasing semi trailers for more extended periods, we stand behind our equipment and ensure they get the maximum value from it. If you have questions about our inventory of semi trailers for lease or rent, our efficient three-step process for obtaining equipment or our company in general, contact Boxwheel today. We’re happy to answer them!

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