Last month, I spoke at the American Trucking Association’s conference, “Synchronizing Trucking’s Finance and IT Practices“, in conjunction with the Information Technology and Logistics Council. This event brings together more than 200 motor carrier, logistics and transportation service companies. It was a full house for my session, “The New ‘Normal’ – Next Generation Mobility”, where I co-presented with Con-way Transportation and Hewlett-Packard. So you may be asking, “What do you mean by the ‘new normal’”?

In my experience speaking with many trucking companies, the new normal is defined by the use of mobile technologies on the road or in the depot, where each worker within the logistics supply chain uses software applications and rugged mobile handheld computers in a connected, wireless world. In this new normal, we envision three areas where analytics and mobile technology play an important role:  in the Cab, in the Trailer, and in the Hub.

In the Cab

Telematics software that provides analytic data from within the cab can greatly improve efficiencies of routes and driver activity. With cradle-equipped or fixed-mount, in-vehicle mobile computers, dispatchers can get analytics on driver behavior, revealing unsafe driving habits. Drivers that routinely speed and brake heavily can be better managed and counseled on how to develop safer driving practices that improve the safety of the driver, the truck and everyone in the vicinity of the driver, reducing risk — and insurance premiums.

Other telematics solutions can help enable analytics-driven fleet maintenance programs. Maintenance optimization becomes increasingly important as aging fleets drag down capital investment, with a 30 percent increase in tractor prices in recent years. Technology can ensure engines, brakes and other tractor systems are properly functioning, and send alerts when maintenance is needed.

Analytics can also capture and process Bills of Lading electronically. New advanced document capture functionality, paired with OCR (optical character recognition) and OMR (optical mark recognition) software can speed billing and provide higher levels of cross-dock utilization by separating the arrival of information from the arrival of physical goods at the dock.

In the Trailer

In order to optimize truckloads to reduce shipments and miles, logistics companies have been considering how to better load trailers to avoid empty, wasted space. The cost savings associated with real-time trailer loading can improve packing times, the quality of the loading, and when a trailer can be dispatched. In the future, mobile technologies and the data that is captured at the time of loading may help analyze poor packing techniques, inefficient packing and stacking, and load stacking quality to reduce damage. This is an important challenge for logistics companies to overcome, because the cost savings in truck use and fuel consumption alone can be enormous.

In the Hub

Mobile technologies can also assist with labor inefficiencies in the hub. For example, Workforce Management solutions use task management applications running on both traditional mobile computers and new innovative platforms like wearable smart badges to automatically assign jobs and responsibilities to the employee base. Today’s workforce management systems concentrate on labor requirements, the management of work assignments, payroll reporting, and even training. They can gather valuable statistics on how these activities are completed. With more efficient labor operations, hub operations can run to their full potential. And of course as the hub becomes more efficient, those benefits extend out into the yard and permeate into other areas of fleet and trucking operations as well. It is more than likely that you already are experiencing some form of “the new normal” in your supply chain space, so please visit for more information on how Motorola Solutions can help you by pairing analytics in the cab, in the trailer, and in the hub with the latest advances in mobile and wireless technologies.