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Technology and Its Impact on Freight Shipping

Posted by Paige Brooks on December 20, 2017 - 8:02 AM
freight shipping technology

The importance of evolving technology

According to a June Forrester Report, business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce is expected to reach $1.2 trillion and account for 13.1 percent of all B2B sales by 2021. In the pre- and early-internet days, most would have never imagined these kinds of numbers. At that time, customers would order a product over the phone, in person or by mail, and then wait weeks for delivery — without the ability to track it, speed it up in transit or ensure its safety. With the introduction of e-commerce, and the ever-changing ability to conduct business online, expectations have changed drastically. Customers now expect quick, safe and reliable transportation methods and the ability to track shipments and schedule pick-up and delivery anytime, from any device. Businesses meet customer demands by developing their supply chains to operate efficiently, which includes investing time and resources into progressing shipping technology. By continuously implementing innovative tools and evolving with consumer needs, ArcBest® is helping create a better customer experience.

Six tools that help improve shipping

The most crucial part of transporting freight is making sure it gets where it needs to be, on time and intact, especially when shipping goods that are time sensitive or products that require special handling and protection. With new technologies emerging in the transportation industry, shippers can proactively monitor their orders (and then relay that information back to their customers). At ArcBest, we’re utilizing a variety of tools that provide updates that keep our customers informed. Learn how some of these tools are helping improve the shipping experience.

  1. Electronic Logging Devices
    Many consider electronic logging devices (ELDs) that track time, location and a driver’s hours-of-service (HOS) to be one of the most significant changes in the transportation industry. Their primary purpose is to ensure a safe and compliant working environment and decrease accidents caused by fatigued drivers. But, they’re also being used to increase shipping productivity. To comply with the ELD mandate, ArcBest’s less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier ABF Freight® has installed ELDs in all power units, and our ground expedite service Panther Premium Logistics® has been 100 percent ELD compliant since 1996 — with satellite tracking on each unit. Using the data collected from these devices, we’re better equipped to avoid delays and longer transit times. By knowing where our drivers are on the road, route planning can become more efficient — benefitting hazmat routes, on-time delivery, stop-offs and more. Learn more about how ELDs are enhancing the shipping process.
  2. Geo-fencing
    Customers want to know their freight is safe during transit, especially when it’s temperature sensitive or of extremely high value (such as electronics, produce or pharmaceuticals). Implementing geo-fencing technology gives us the ability to use a tracking system to create a virtual boundary around the truck to make sure it stays on its pre-determined course. We can monitor the vehicle’s location in real time and take immediate action if it strays from the route. By remotely tracking the truck’s every mile, we can make certain freight reaches the customer as quickly and as safely as possible.
  3. Temperature monitoring
    The slightest change in temperature can affect certain types of freight. That’s why moving temperature-sensitive goods requires technology that can actively and accurately monitor the refrigerated unit’s temperature. ArcBest offers two temperature-tracking technology options through Panther Premium Logistics: temperature control and temperature validation. The type of freight you’re shipping determines which solution is best. Either way, you can rest assured we’re collecting consistent data to keep the goods within the specified range throughout transit. Should any fluctuation issues arise, the equipment’s alarms will alert us for immediate action.
  4. Door sensors
    Protection is essential for shipping high-value products. When moving valuable freight, ArcBest can implement door-sensor technology via trailer tracking devices as an extra security measure. Door sensors installed on dry vans and refrigerated units monitor when the doors are opened and closed. Tracking this helps keep freight handling to a minimum — which reduces the risk of damage. The tracking device also monitors GPS location, miles traveled and how long a trailer has been sitting dormant. 
  5. Global Positioning System
    Using GPS satellites, we can track shipments throughout their journey. This location-based tool is the foundation of our ELDs and geo-fencing technology, but we’re also using it in other areas of the business. Truckload customers have access to more than 18,000 service providers nationwide, but it’s not guaranteed these carriers offer freight-tracking capabilities. To ensure our customers still have shipment visibility, we’ve implemented software that allows us to track the driver. With permission, we’ll ping the driver’s mobile device via cell phone towers to get updates along the route. By following the driver’s path, we can see if the freight is heading in the right direction in an appropriate amount of time.
  6. Customer dashboard
    Need to know the location of your shipment or check on a payment? You can easily see the status of your freight through our online dashboard. For a quick update, just enter a reference number into the shipment tracking tool. For more in-depth visibility, log in to your account. Logged-in users have access to in-depth tracking information, shipping documents (like the bill of lading and shipping labels), billing and payment history, and more. Access this information 24/7 from any location to be certain your shipments are where they need to be.  

Ensure shipment visibility and cargo security by choosing ArcBest

We change with our customers. As your shipping needs evolve, we’ll continue to develop technology to create the best shipping experience possible. If you have questions about how our technology can help improve your supply chain, call us at 844-560-2532 or leave a comment below.