What’s Long Haul Transportation and How Does Its Future Look Like?

Long-haul transportation refers to a long-distance driving transportation system wherein the drivers undertake a single delivery by driving a commercial vehicle for a distance of 250 miles or more. As opposed to short-haul, a long-haul delivery typically takes longer than one whole day and can even include a week’s journey.

Since their journey includes crossing state borders frequently, it requires the drivers to be well-equipped with knowledge about state laws and regulations surrounding cargo handling and deliveries.

The duration of long-haul trucking trips varies and can be chosen by the drivers as per their lifestyles and personal commitments. In order to expedite the process, a long-haul delivery might even be undertaken by two drivers who can take turns while driving. It helps in reducing the fatigue and pressure on a single person and enhances the speed of delivery.


4 Key Benefits of Long Haul Tracking

Long-haul trucking can be a complex process if not managed in the right way. This is where technology comprising long-haul trucking software can be beneficial for efficient long-haul management. Such software helps optimize routes, track the drivers, and undertake overall coordination of long-haul trucking.

1. Automated scheduling

With multiple commercial vehicles on the road, it can be difficult for business owners to schedule deliveries manually. Long-haul trucking software can automate the scheduling process and assign tasks to the drivers according to their availability and the routes. The technology is able to take into account multiple factors such as traffic and weather conditions, delivery personnel performance, and deliver the perfect schedule for long-haul logistics. 


2. Real-Time Visibility and Optimized Routes

Long haul tracking involves enhanced long-haul visibility in real-time, which takes into consideration the traffic, weather conditions, and fuel consumption by the vehicle. By using GPS technology, it tells you the most optimum and efficient route to carry out your long haul delivery. It not only keeps the delivery managers up-to-date with the required information but also ensures that all the other stakeholders, including the driver, receive the data from time to time via an easy to operate mobile application, live notifications and alerts.


3. Monitoring Driver Performance

Since long-haul trucking requires drivers to be out and about for days and weeks at times, it is important for business owners to monitor and gauge their performance at regular intervals. Long haul tracking allows you to know the speed, braking rate, and diversions undertaken by the driver along his route which also directly affects the fuel consumption and delivery turnaround-time. By keeping a tab on these factors, it is easier to rate and review the performance of the driver and ensure that logistics partners adhere to service-level-agreements.

4. Enhanced customer experience

Keeping the customers in the loop about their delivery is always beneficial in enhancing their overall delivery experience with the business. By undertaking long haul tracking, it is easier for the business to ensure that the deliveries are made on time and in the right condition which would help them in retaining the customer’s trust in the long run. Advanced logistics tools empower businesses to provide their customers with live information on the delivery progress. It generates hundred per cent accurate ETAs, drastically reduces the need to call shippers to know the delivery status and empower customers to build contingency plans in case of delays, emergency and exceptions.

The Future of Long Haul Transportation

Deployment of trucks has become easier in today’s time, thanks to the availability of new-age technologies for autonomous trucking. With technologies like core sensing, basic autonomous features can be incorporated while deploying trucks such as automatic emergency brakes, cruise control, driver warning systems, among others. However, higher levels of automation in long-haul trucking can only be incorporated with more advancements in sensor technology and data processing that could enhance the safety levels of long-haul trucking.

In fact, research reveals that the expectations of the industry, on the whole, in regards to fully automated trucks vary from 4-10 years to 7-20 years.

Irrespective of how many years it takes, the benefits of autonomous trucking cannot be ignored. On-road safety would be enhanced, fuel consumption and emissions would be reduced, and an overall improvement in operational efficiency could be achieved. It would also reduce vehicle downtime as well as minimize labour costs by reducing and even eliminating the need for human drivers. Some even view autonomous trucking technology as a boon for drivers as well as it would allow them to disengage temporarily, work on other facets of the process, or even get some rest. Autonomous trucks can help countries, especially the US, to address the driver shortage challenge. In fact, the trucking industry has about 80,000 fewer drivers available now when compared to what the US had in the beginning of 2020. Having said that, the potential, advantages and disadvantages of fully autonomous vehicles are still being studied.

Research studies are increasingly focused on evaluating the benefits of autonomous trucking technologies and functions that are expected to enhance fuel-efficiency. This can be achieved with the help of automatic transmissions, adaptive cruise control, predictive cruise control, driving feedback systems as well as platooning. Interestingly, platooning forms the major focus of most industry R&D efforts. Studies reveal that the average fuel savings of both lead and platooned vehicles range from 4% to 15%. 

With increasing cross border trade and growing volumes of container traffic in ports, the importance of efficient long haul transportation or trucking will skyrocket. Embracing advanced logistics tools, powered by machine learning, predictive intelligence, analytics and automation, to mitigate inefficiencies like delays, risks, rising operational costs among others will become a norm. 

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