Trucking in the U.S. is a $700 billion industry. Even though there are more than three million truck drivers, there is still a shortage, which is delaying some shipments and putting a crimp in the logistics grid.
One way the industry is trying to combat these problems is with self-driving trucks, also called autonomous vehicles (AVs). AVs are already being used for indoor warehouse operations, but they have the potential to completely reform the entire logistics industry.
While many manufacturers, including Volkswagen, Toyota, Volvo, Daimler and Tesla are starting from scratch to produce their own models, Uber and Embark have been installing AV technology into existing trucks. Developers of this autonomous technology envision a future where technology and human drivers work together to transport freight. One model would use unmanned trucks that would travel longer distances on the highways, then swap trailers at designated transfer stations with trucks that are operated by local drivers. Another model would expand upon truck platooning to combine a mix of piloted and self-driving vehicles.
Proponents say not only will AVs alleviate the labor shortage, they can improve efficiency, better protect the environment and save money. For starters, self-driving trucks would eliminate certain laws that govern drivers’ driving times which often hinder operations.
Speaking of operations, AV technology will certainly have an impact on distribution centers. Many companies build their logistics and distribution hubs according to an assumption that trucks drive an average of 500 miles a day. The size of the market determines how many facilities are needed and where they should be located. If self-driving trucks increase the travel distance, say to 1,000 miles a day, the size and location of the distribution centers would likely change.
No matter what happens in the future, one thing remains certain: logistics and distribution centers will always need security. In all likelihood, cargo theft will still be a big issue. Stealth Monitoring provides customized video surveillance solutions that work in real time, to catch events as they happen. Using a combination of video analytics and human intelligence, our trained security operators can watch for unusual activity to help deter theft, damage and liability, for up to 60% less than the cost of a traditional guard. As an added service, we also offer remote gate security and access control solutions that can verify driver ID, inspect trailers and track inventory entering and exiting the facility.
Even though self-driving truck technology is still in its infancy, the vision that it will help trucking and logistics companies increase efficiency and lower operating costs. For more information about our proactive security solutions, contact us here.