Transportation industry aims to harness big data

Safety and environmental regulations enforced by the United States Department of Transportation have added to the pressure experienced by the trucking industry on a monthly basis. Driver work time limitations and higher fuel prices have put a lot of stress on third-party logistics providers eager to help their clients meet product liquidation demands. In order to identify hidden ways to reduce expenses and increase productivity, industry professionals are using big data analytics tools. 

Useful applications
According to Tech Republic, supply chain management experts often look for the cheapest route to deliver goods, typically leading many shippers to rely on rail, which can move one ton of freight on a single gallon of diesel for 500 miles. However, trucking is the more feasible option for merchandisers that need to distribute individual orders placed by e-commerce customers. 

Many transportation companies have integrated Internet of Things data into central cloud infrastructure environments to find ways in which drivers can be more efficient. Sensor-equipped trucks recommend the optimal speed of transport for particular road services and notify maintenance crews of which vehicles require servicing for oil, brakes, tires and other necessary mechanisms. For those carrying medical or food products, data-collecting devices in trailers detect fluctuations in temperature. 

Challenges ahead 
Although executives are not ignorant of cloud computing or the data technologies associated with it, many shipping and distribution employees do not fully comprehend these systems. Toby Wolpe, a contributor to ZDNet, said that keeping up with business demands is challenging enough without acclimating personnel to the environment. He noted that corporations possessing optimal command over analytics tools are the ones that assign separate cloud servers for data collection and refinement tasks. 

Alan Grogan, a British IT professional working for the Royal Bank of Scotland, told Wolpe that setting up a parallel data warehouse optimized the analysis capabilities of the financial institution and helped it gradually transition away from legacy systems that weren't making the cut. 

One of the biggest issues U.S. distribution companies are encountering is a severe lack of knowledge in content delivery networks. Tech Republic noted that New Century Transportation reported that 69 percent of organizations are looking for personnel well versed in predictive analytics. 

Another problem lies in the unwillingness of veteran drivers to abide by the constant surveillance data analytics subjects them to. Being told how to drive by a pint-size machine can be frustrating for those who have been on the road for thirty years or more. In response, trucking companies have rewarded such personnel for adhering to the technology and improving their driving habits. 

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