Now more than ever, it is critical that the transportation industry pays heed to the implementation of security solutions. Wireless communications and tracking systems can help address the need for improved security for over-the-road transportation by providing in-transit visibility of freight and improved communications with drivers. Fleet owners will want to select well-rounded solutions that are all-inclusive, user-friendly and most importantly — that improve both security and productivity. By being pro-active about security, a company can save time, effort and expense while improving protection of its drivers, assets and cargo.
The country's current economic climate coupled with the need for increased security measures throughout the transportation industry, reiterates to companies that they need to choose solutions that can efficiently automate their fleets; raise the level of security provided to drivers, loads and vehicles; and lower their operational costs to increase productivity. Government and military agencies that transport sensitive and dangerous cargo, such as munitions and hazardous materials, have used innovative wireless satellite technologies for more than 12 years for improved security, safety and in-transit visibility during daily operations.
It is important that companies research and understand the actual technology deployed by each wireless system to ensure future use will not be hindered by technological advancements. For example, on August 8, 2002, the FCC announced significant modifications to its cellular standards that could affect the trucking industry. The Commission streamlined its rules to eliminate “the requirement that cellular carriers provide analog service compatible with Advanced Mobile Phone Service (AMPS) specifications by establishing a five-year transition period after which the analog standard will not be required, but may still be provided” (FCC August 8, 2002, press release). As AMPS is a first generation analog technology, companies that utilize AMPS-only wireless solutions will eventually be impacted by the degradation of AMPS capacity, most likely starting in populated urban areas and highway corridors where wireless telecommunications carriers have fully built-out their second or third generation digital networks. Trucking companies may suffer short-term productivity loss as trucks are pulled off the road in order to replace AMPS-only units with digital wireless or satellite communications.
A well-equipped wireless communications system should include real-time vehicle communications and position tracking via satellite or terrestrial-based digital wireless technologies and should work seamlessly with the fleet's back-office systems. Fleets that utilize real-time load tracking and trailer asset management systems have the ability to create position and shipment status reports that enable dispatchers to verify that drivers drop and hook trailers only at authorized locations. Two-way satellite-based systems help companies maintain the highest level of security and asset protection as they enable drivers to have communications throughout their trip and fleets to have continuous position location reporting due ubiquitous satellite geographic coverage. Use of panic/emergency notification buttons and driver authentication systems integrated with wireless solutions increases protection for drivers and helps deter tampering and theft of the trucks and trailers.
With use of wireless communications systems, automatic vehicle position reporting, and complete dispatch and back-office integration capabilities, fleets can achieve both improved efficiency and security during a time when success is the only option.