150821550 | Sompong Sriphet | Dreamstime.com
Unlock the Power of AI: Smarter trucking and management

AI is a tool worth exploring

April 8, 2024
Artificial intelligence is the newest fleet management tool. While it’s becoming the latest corporate buzzword, it has the potential to make your business more efficient and your human interactions more meaningful. 

It just doesn’t feel like there are enough hours in the day to get everything done. Amidst the constant barrage of email pings and instant message pop-ups on my laptop, text messages buzzing on my phone, social media alerts, and yes, sometimes even phone calls, it’s a miracle I can even focus on this column. Is there a manager today who couldn’t use an extra hand?

With how short-handed the trucking industry seems, I’m guessing the answer is no. We’re certainly not immune here. While working on this issue, we were also trying to backfill an editor’s position vacant since December, balance staff travel to various events and companies, plan how FleetOwner and our affiliated commercial vehicle publications will cover a hectic season of industry events, attend mandatory corporate training meetings, and everything else that comes with managing a news website and print publication.

As I struggled to find enough quiet time to write this column, the devil on my shoulder told me artificial intelligence could help me. After all, AI is working wonders for fleets, and it’s still in its infancy. Could AI be the answer to finding more time in the day? Spoiler: It is not, but it does have its place.

See also: AI for trucking: Ready for prime time?

“Imagine a future where AI seamlessly connects networks, automates responses, empowers efficient asset utilization, and frees humans from repetitive tasks,” McLeod Software’s Doug Schrier told FleetOwner for our AI cover story.

That future is closer than ever—and in some ways, it is already here. But we have to find the right way to implement it. 

Many of us have been doing this for years by optimizing routes, tracking shipments in real-time, and cutting down on how much humans need to check in on shipments and drivers. You can free up the people on your team to focus on those human interactions that still fuel business while microchips do the mundane.

As college professors and high school teachers across the nation have been learning since ChatGPT and other AI systems have come online, artificial intelligence does not make writers sound intelligent. It can make writers sound robotic and uninteresting.

For example, we’ve noticed more public relations companies relying on AI for press releases and presentations. It’s usually easy to spot because AI can be good at writing a lot without saying much at all. Good writing, on the other hand, bursts with humanity, from the clever to the corny.

Just like you wouldn’t want to rely on AI to make essential fleet decisions, I don’t want AI to create content for our readers. However, I can rely on AI to review written content for errors and grammar. And you, as a fleet leader, can use AI as a tool to improve efficiency by optimizing operations.

Video: Pre-Check: AI in fleet management today

Schrier noted that human relationships still reign supreme. Artificial intelligence is not about replacing human connections. If used correctly, AI can strengthen the power of those relationships. “Imagine AI-powered tools that personalize interactions, analyze customer preferences, and anticipate needs, allowing you to deliver an exceptional and customized experience for each customer,” he said. 

AI turns massive amounts of data into rich and highly accurate predictions. This makes it capable of turning raw data—that is too complex for humans—into actionable information that fleets can use to improve safety, maintenance, and driver behavior, for example. This can help reduce crashes and improve driver safety. Leaders in the field told us that it can attract and retain drivers by optimizing their routes and loads based on preferences and skills. This can build our human interactions, if only by finding better ways to keep good employees happy. 

It could improve your customer service. AI-powered tools provide real-time updates on shipments, which can reduce customer questions and resolve issues before they arise with better-estimated arrival times and chatbots ready to tackle basic, common questions.

See also: AI will drive value for fleets, but...

AI is rapidly evolving but is not a silver bullet or the ultimate weapon. It’s a tool that all managers must watch and figure out how it can help—because if you aren’t using it, your competitors are. This week at FleetOwner.com, we’ll focus on how artificial intelligence works in the trucking and fleet industries (with a tip of the virtual cap to our affiliate Fleet Maintenance, which has focused on how AI impacts shop operations). As always, we’re interested in hearing how you use AI—or why you don’t.

So, while I had to rely on my limited brain power to write this column on deadline, you can save some of your brain power for the human side of trucking and start looking into how AI can help cover many tedious tasks and give your fleet an edge. 

And if you caught any typos above, blame the robots. 

About the Author

Josh Fisher | Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Josh Fisher has been with FleetOwner since 2017, covering everything from modern fleet management to operational efficiency, artificial intelligence, autonomous trucking, regulations, and emerging transportation technology. He is based in Maryland. 

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Report: The 2024 State of Heavy-Duty Repair

From capitalizing on the latest revenue trends to implementing strategic financial planning—this report serves as a roadmap for navigating the challenges and opportunities of ...

Fleet Industry Benchmarks: How does your fleet stack up?

Discover how your fleet compares to industry benchmarks and gain insights from a 2024 Benchmarking Report on maintenance spend, turnaround time, and more. Join us to identify ...

Build a Tolling Program to Manage Toll Fees and Risks

Fleets looking to effectively manage their operational costs should consider their tolling costs. Download the PrePass whitepaper, “Build a Tolling Program to Manage Toll Fees...

Reducing CSA Violations & Increasing Safety With Advanced Trailer Telematics

Keep the roads safer with advanced trailer telematics. In this whitepaper, see how you can gain insights that lead to increased safety and reduced roadside incidents—keeping drivers...