How Things Work: In-cab communicators

In a transitional phase from being considered an intrusion to being thought of as a business necessity, on-board computing and communications is seen less as Big Brother looking over a driver's shoulder to a helpful management tool as well as a perk for the driver.

To stay in touch, the majority of users employ cellular communication, with satellite running second and non-cellular ground-based systems third.

In a recent study, analyst firm Aberdeen Group (www.aberdeen.com) points to four major uses being made of incab communications. Here, drawn from the study, are a handful of ways in which productivity is being enhanced by deployment of these devices:

  • Basic driver communications, including two-way voice communications, text messaging, relaying route plans and directions, as well as pickup and delivery status.
  • Value-added information, including such matters as accessorial charges, special handling, installation or repair instructions, digital photos of damaged good, document scanning or imaging, printing invoices and managing inventory.
  • Automatic vehicle location for tractors or trailers with near real-time location displayed. More advanced capabilities include geofencing and the real-time ability for recognition and notification of exceptions.
  • Vehicle sensors include a wide range of engine and operating monitoring and diagnostic capabilities, as well as security applications.
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