Tech Talk: Bring On the Smart Devices


Our world is getting smarter. As we look at the vehicles, devices, and systems we use, we are beginning to see a move toward embedded electronics and integration. This is adding smarts to the equipment we have used, and driving efficiency.

When I was in school I had a late ’70’s model International Harvester pickup truck. I say late ’70’s model because it had pieces from many years’ trucks in it. Kind of a Frankenstein truck if you will. A couple of things I liked about it. It had a one-half-inch plate steel bed liner. This gave it great traction in the snow. I could also climb into the engine compartment to work on the strait 6 motor. It was a simple vehicle, no computers, no electronic windows, or electronic door locks, not even a radio. Just a truck.

This was good and bad. Getting the thing started on really cold mornings was not easy. I kept a can of starter fluid behind the seat for such issues. That was bad. Working on the vehicle was nice. It was simple. The days of no computer vehicles are over.

We are seeing smarts (embedded systems and networking) added to many things we use. This is adding many benefits.

All new vehicles now have Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS). These are tiny computer systems embedded in the rims and tires we use, which communicate with the vehicle’s on-board computer. Some of these measure more than tire pressure. Some can monitor tire heat, and new systems are coming out that will measure tire tread ware.

These systems are getting smarter too. For fleet management they can be connected and managed remotely. This can yield reduced maintenance time, and help avoid tire flats.

The cargo is getting smarter too. Embedded technologies like RFID (radio-frequency identification) can help speed inventory management, and improve shipping and receiving accuracy.

Many transportation and logistics companies using RFID today are reaching nearly 100 percent shipping and receiving accuracy, 99.5 percent inventory accuracy, 30 percent faster order processing and 30 percent reduction in labor costs.

Fleet management systems have also been improved greatly by embedded systems. Embedded GPS helps to track where trucks and loads are in real-time. Automated driver logs and inspection reporting saves time and paperwork. Automating expense reporting and proof of delivery can also save time and speed payment to the company and the driver. Deeper reporting of truck performance is available on some solutions as well.

These examples demonstrate some of the possibilities from using embedded technology in transportation. The amazing part is we are just starting to see some field applications of this technology. More is coming, and coming quickly.

Our fleet management and eLogs products provide powerful technological assistance to drivers and managers alike. This product continues to evolve to support the government changes and mandates that are coming out.

We see a bright future for smart devices in transportation. The group at Truckstop.com is anxious for these changes, and the time and cost savings they will bring. Bring on the smart devices.

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Chip Olsen
Operations Manager
Truckstop.com