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Have the 'good old days' arrived? A case for the value of automation

Verlen Larsen Headshot

The idea that you can drive a truck and not have a boss looking over your shoulder is an outdated notion. Most truckers ride with some form of GPS-based tracking, electronic logs, telematics, in-cab cameras, and monitors for speed, fuel economy, braking events, and overall performance.

Technology can feel disruptive and even threatening, particularly when people talk about automation -- in trucking today, the fear factor rises instantly at the word’s very mention. Fact is, though, self-driving vehicles are decades away. And in a story about the future of the business of trucking as an owner-operator, we all should want this generation to be able to earn a living and be happier doing it. Technology can be intimidating, but it can also make the work easier and manage routine tasks with speed and accuracy.

Ask a veteran owner-operator about the "good old days" and you won’t hear a peep about waiting for a payphone or fretting about a lost shipping document. Even in-cab cameras have their benefits -- I’ve known truckers whose careers were saved when they were exonerated by dashcam video. I bet you have, too.

Here are five areas where tech has made great leaps in taking some of the pressure off operators of all stripes.

Paperwork is hard to organize and adds the task of “courier” to an operator’s unwritten job description.

Electronic bills of lading and other digital documents make exchanging information with carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers and other parties faster, more secure, and with less risk of errors. No one has to wait days or weeks to provide a proof of delivery, bills of lading, lumper receipts, and other supporting records a carrier needs to create an invoice and get drivers and owner-operators paid faster. 

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