How Technology and Innovation are Transforming the Industry
It’s no secret that we live in a fast-paced world with technology evolving more rapidly than ever before. Cutting edge innovation is having a powerful impact on all industries. That impact can be seen clearly in the transportation sector, with the automation of trucks and the use of digital media to enhance driver training.
The good news is that despite innovations and automation, the transportation industry isn’t going anywhere. But because of rapid advancements, drivers, carriers and industry leaders are exploring how to adapt and adjust to stay competitive.
The Computerization and Automation of Trucks
According to Ravi Shanker, a lead analyst for automated vehicles at Morgan Stanley, automated trucking technology will change the entire freight business, from the rail and truck industries to the last-mile deliveries that come to our homes and offices. However, safety and application challenges will still exist making highly skilled drivers critical as ever.
Fleet managers and their drivers are learning to adapt to wireless communications systems and electronic logging devices as well as adjust to fast-acting electronic control modules. New fuels and propulsion systems are being tested. As technology advances, carriers and training schools look out for regulations and changes to size and weight restrictions.
- Autonomous trucks
Understandably, members of the transportation sector are fearful of what “autonomous cars” might mean for the industry. They worry that advances in automation might make drivers’ jobs obsolete. Drivers can rest assured with the knowledge that even fully autonomous trucks don’t eliminate the need for human drivers. The driver’s role is simply evolving. Even if a truck can effectively navigate itself, drivers still need to take inventory, sign forms and complete countless other non-repetitive tasks that robots cannot complete.
As vehicles become increasingly automated with more advanced computer systems, they will be able to change speeds, steer, break and potentially even exit highways or change lanes. The role of long-haul drivers will shift from full-time operators to in-cab systems managers with advanced technical responsibilities like selecting ideal routes, managing diagnostics systems, communicating to form platoons on the highway, dispatching and locating loads. Drivers will be responsible for monitoring numerous smart systems and telematics, not to mention taking over the wheel in the event of a malfunction or accident.
Although exciting automation advances are on the horizon, for the time being drivers maintain the bulk of traditional driving responsibilities.
Platooning is the first step in the automation of trucks. It occurs when tractor-trailers connect wirelessly as a convoy enabling them to coordinate their operations while traveling on the road. According to Founder and CEO of Peloton Technology, Josh Switkes, platooning allows fleets to “put trucks much closer together while still increasing safety because we have an automatic reaction to events by the rear truck”. It helps drivers navigate the road more safely and increases their ability to avoid collisions. Platooning also enables carriers to improve fuel efficiency in two-truck platoons.
Technological innovation is creating opportunities to improve communication between drivers and carriers. The Canadian government is moving forward with mandating electronic logging devices (ELDs), replacing paper logbooks. ELDs automatically record drivers’ driving hours and duty status. ELDs will serve to improve the relationship between drivers and enforcement.
Innovation in Training: CHET Student Portal
The automation and computerization of trucks has resulted in a need for drivers to develop new skills and knowledge. Top professional driving schools are adapting their curriculum to ensure drivers are adequately prepared. At CHET, we are constantly improving our program to ensure our graduates are equipped with the skills they need to fulfill their responsibilities on and off the road safely and confidently.
In September of 2016, CHET launched our new Student Portal which students can access 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The portal was designed for greater convenience, simplicity and ease of use. It enables students to choose their courses online, clearly identify which program they are enrolled in, pay for courses online, and book their own road tests and on-the-road training sessions.
- Remote Training
It was a priority for CHET to design a portal that would make important educational tools and resources available through a secure site so they could be reviewed wherever and whenever was most convenient for students. The portal allows students to access in-house training videos remotely and download information to personal devices for review. Students receive SMS contact reminders 24 hours prior to each lesson, backed up by an email notification.
Another attractive feature of the portal is that students can complete computer modules remotely and track their progress. Students can complete modules and tests on-site or at home on weekends, at night or whenever they have free time using their Smart Phone or personal computer.
A personal dashboard interface also allows students to track progress in computer tests, yard work and classroom attendance without having to ask administrative staff. Those who live far away from our training center can complete certain portions* of our driver training remotely in a timely manner with the exception of a few on-site tests that need to be taken using our classroom computers. Students can also complete their certification of Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training via the portal.
(*The portal complements the in-class, on-the-road, yard work and simulator training that CHET has become known for – it doesn’t replace it.)
- Continued Education for Musket Drivers
Graduates who are hired by CHET’s parent company The Musket Transport Ltd. are able to use to Portal to renew their Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) certification remotely, every 3rd year, as per regulations. Corporate Partners can also use the Portal to allow employees to complete renewal courses or training clinics online with ease from their preferred location.
CHET will continue to provide new unique, interactive and convenient educational tools to improve the student experience and empower our graduates to thrive in the evolving transportation industry. Stay tuned on part 2 of our summer Tech and Training in Transportation series! Until then, have a safe and relaxing summer.