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New technology doesn't have to be scary

Oct. 26, 2022
As Halloween approaches, the scariest thing for some fleets is the prospect of having to take a risk with new technology. However, if you keep these resources in mind, you won't have to jump into that decision blindly.

It’s almost Halloween, and thoughts turn to ghosts, ghouls, goblins, haunted houses, and other scary things. For some fleets, that scary Halloween feeling is something they get whenever they think about adding new technology to their operations. I understand that change can be scary. Making the wrong technology decision can have a negative impact on operating efficiency and can end up costing the fleet money—in some cases, lots of money.

But technology decisions do not have to be scary. In fact, avoiding making decisions on new technology can be even scarier as fleets that continue with business as usual will find themselves woefully behind their competitors.

The good news is that you do not have to make these technology decisions on your own. There are a variety of resources that can assist a fleet in making the right technology decision.

Before evaluating any new technology, make sure you have a complete understanding of how your fleet is currently operating, what is working well and what is causing problems. It is likely that given changes in purchasing pattens by both consumers and businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that some things in your operation may have changed. Make sure to keep those in mind as you look at adding new technology.

See also: Four ways a fleet’s C-suite can improve diagnostics efficiency

A good resource is your dealership’s sales repas well as other key personnel at the truck maker. Sit down with your sales rep to review your operations and to discuss what is currently available from the OEM. Don’t be afraid to ask to speak to an OEM engineer or other executive if your sales rep can’t answer all your questions. While these days it is more difficult to get trucks, that won’t always be the case, and your dealership’s sales rep can help you make smart spec’ing decisions when trucks do become available.

Look at what other fleets are doing. While no two fleets are alike, there are lessons that can be learned from larger fleets that have the resources to try new technologies on a portion of their trucks. Look at what is working for them as well as what isn’t. View that information in light of your own operation to determine if a technology might work for you.

Attend industry meetings, conferences, and conventions where you can talk with the manufacturers of new products and talk to other fleets. Many of the events put on by trucking industry associations also have educational sessions and those are great places to gather more information.

And, of course, you can rely on NACFE. We have studied nearly 86 technologies that improve freight efficiency and have published Confidence Reports on many of them and well as our Guidance Reports on emerging technologies like battery electric trucks, fuel cell vehicles and autonomous trucking. Later this year we will once again publish a report based on the findings from our Annual Fleet Fuel Study—which we paused for a few years because of COVID. This report contains the results of a deep-dive investigation into the adoption of various products and practices for improving freight efficiency among some of the major North American fleets.

I realize this is a shameless plug for the work we do, but NACFE prides itself on being an unbiased source of information when it comes to improving freight-efficiency, and our work is firmly rooted in the real world.

New technology adoption does not have to be scary. Rely on the many resources available to you so the end result will be all treat and no trick.

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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