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Innovation is the theme of the Road Transport Forum Conference held this week in Tauranga. Ken Shirley, Chief Executive of the RTF provided some insight into the challenges the industry will undergo and the benefits innovation can bring. With technology like telematics, vehicle control, ITS road and vehicle interaction, autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles, the transport industry is on the cusp of major changes. 

“It is evident technology is accelerating very rapidly. The next 10 years will bring profound changes within the industry,” says Ken. 

One of the biggest challenges within this fiercely competitive industry, Ken believes, is a shortage of drivers. The transport industry is not competitive in the skilled labour market, and with driving a heavy rig being a highly skilled profession, while the industry needs highly skilled professionals, the economic climate which doesn’t reflect that. The gap between when school finishes and when young people are old enough to drive a truck also causes problems. 

“I think that the lack of drivers will accelerate the move to autonomous vehicles,” says Ken. 

Innovation takes hold of the industry

Innovation and technological disruption are accelerating within the industry and business models will have to adapt and change. Ken notes that a perfect example is the adoption of the Uber model for freight which allows for maximising loads. This shift has the disruptive potential to revolutionise the industry. 

“Various commerce models of consolidated freight and consignments are already being done with the likes of Kotahi, a supply chain collaboration, and Coda, a network of logistics operators. They are working with the dairy and meat industries to rationalise consignments between the various transport modes and maximise shipping loads to feed to freight hubs,” says Ken. 

An innovative future

Innovation has always been a focus for Teletrac Navman, and has formed a platform for the company to thrive in a competitive global market. Teletrac Navman’s GPS vehicle tracking software DIRECTOR is an example of innovation, providing real-time driver behaviour and vehicle analytics from a web-based platform which makes it scalable and robust. 

There are many more innovations coming for the transport industry in the future:

•    Vehicles monitoring driver alertness and communicating with each other to avoid collisions.
•    Systems to automatically take over braking or steering if they sense an imminent accident.
•    Advanced sensors within the vehicle to monitor a driver’s heart rate, eye movements and brain activity to detect issues ranging from drowsiness to a heart attack.
•    Vehicles able to communicate with each other about traffic, weather and road conditions and warn the driver about potential safety hazards.

It’s evident that innovation brings new horizons for the transport industries. It’s now up to us to transition and adapt smartly. Are you up for the challenge?

Ian Daniel is a Vice President, APAC at Teletrac Navman.

Ian Daniel is Teletrac Navman's VP for the APAC region. He's the backbone of the brand in APAC, invested all his passion for and knowledge about GPS tracking and the industry into it and was part of Navman Wireless' fleet tracking cornerstone in 2002.