Could the imminence of the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Vehicles place the haulage and transport sector in the vanguard?
Key to the exploitation of these developments lie in Machine-to-Machine (M2M) systems. Large amounts of data are collected by machines and transmitted to others to be analysed. The results are then sent to yet other machines for execution.
A ‘machine’ in this context could be anything from a truck to a roll cage, a warehouse robot to a slot booking system, or anything providing it has some level of intelligent communication. This allows for ultra-fast analysis and accurate optimisation across many more variables, without manual intervention, guesswork and human error.
A solution such as TGMatrix’ Intelligent Freight Matching (IFM) is a good example. Drawing data on requirements and assets from shipper and carrier systems respectively, it automatically finds the best match according to defined business rules. Interestingly however, this approach can be taken much further.
With the UK government recently approving trials for ‘platooning’ autonomous lorries – (albeit ‘driver-accompanied’ for the moment). This provides an obvious extension for an IFM solution, which, would then allow you to ‘book’ a truck into the next available platoon up the M1 for example.
But why stop there? An intelligent, autonomous truck will be constantly processing weather conditions, traffic reports and other variables. And would therefore have a much better idea of ETA at destination than the driver, so why not let the truck ‘book’ its loading bay slot? While we are at it, the lorry’s systems could book the forklift truck, the appropriate put-away location, Proof of Delivery and condition reports as well.
Alternatively, the truck may be heading for an out of town consolidation centres where it has booked a smaller city vehicle for the final mile delivery. There may be no driver but there might still be a need for humans to unload or install – that provision can also be effectively co-ordinated by the machines, with fewer man-hours wasted just waiting.
An electric HGV will continually be analysing when and where it needs to go for a recharge, (or possibly even a battery pack swap). The decision will automatically be uploaded to carrier systems, allowing the real time analysis to schedule other activities such as routine maintenance or sending its next scheduled availability onto the IFM platform.
Recharged, a truck with no immediate duty may be ‘prepositioned’ predictive analytics, telling the vehicle that its best chance of a backload is at, for example, 4pm on a Thursday is near the south end of the M40.
Even with no driver, the vehicle will essentially be available for trade 24/7.
One thing is clear, the future is going to be intelligent and the haulage and transport sector is becoming ‘smart’.
Are you ready?
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