Unpredictable? Weather Still Poses as a Problem for Transportation Fleet Operators
The transportation industry hopes for clear skies and sunny days. The weather reality they face is far more tumultuous and causes serious issues for truckers and customers. While weather forecasts have vastly improved in recent years, many fleet managers rely on atmospheric weather. This helps them glean general insight into weather of a region, but does not provide detailed reports on localized weather.
In 2017, inclement weather led to $129B in economic loss globally. In the trucking industry, these weather-related issues caused $3.5B in economic losses, 32.6B in lost vehicle hours and accounted for approximately 23% of all trucking delays for the year.
The economic loss is only a portion of the issue that makes up the bigger picture. Safety is another serious concern for truckers as they get on the road. Weather is the root of roughly 1.2Mvehicle accidents each year. Of the over 6M non-fatal crashes per year in 2015, 8% of those had a large truck or bus involved. For fatal crashes, of which there were 32,166 in 2015, the number involving a truck or bus jumped to 12% a year.
A Deep Dive into Predictive Weather
Truckers drive a significant portion of the economy. Around three-quarters of companies in the U.S rely on the trucking industry to transport goods to communities. The trucking industry carries 70% of the country’s freight, which is 10.5B tons a year. Considering how much industries rely on trucks to deliver goods on time, atmospheric weather forecasts are no longer sufficient to help measure the actual conditions.
When weather events cause shipment delays this impacts countless industries, from manufacturing plants to restaurants, which ultimately affects the consumer. Enhanced road weather information provides fleet managers with necessary insight. Combined with other relevant datasets, this additional information empowers managers to improve safety on the road for everyday commuters and their truck drivers.
In an effort to provide the trucking industry with better weather insights, the government deployed IoT (Internet of Things) sensors. While these government initiatives helped deploy sensors that provided data for both public and private use, coverage from these sensors alone is spotty. This means managers still have to work with limited information if their data comes from these sensors alone.
With these challenges being top of mind, how can fleet operations use technology to increase safety and efficiency?
We introduce Fathym! The team at Fathym noticed gaps in the current system and has answered the issue of coverage with affordable sensor technologies. These sensors can be placed on existing infrastructures and on vehicles themselves.
Fathym’s Ground Truth forecast is a statistically-based model that uses machine learning to create a true road forecast rather than extrapolating road conditions purely from the weather above. The result is a richer weather dataset for fleet managers to extrapolate information. Instead of having insight into weather that is just up in the air, Fathym provides users with real-time insight into weather events like wind speeds, snow, rain, sleet, fog, visibility on the road, ice, and more.
Fleet operations can use these insights to make necessary changes in the moment and redirect their trucks to safer areas, thereby limiting loss of time. Fathym provides more than just valuable data that reflects current road conditions—they also offer accurate, predictive weather. This allows managers to choose the best route possible in advance and limit uncertainty with weather related events. Fathym’s predictive weather is a catalyst for fleet managers to change their current operations with a more complete picture of local conditions. The trucking industry can benefit from other datasets that help create an overall holistic picture of all the conditions that could impact their fleet on the road.
See Weather in Action
Live Earth is a real-time IoT visualization platform that integrates with Fathym to display their weather sensors in tandem with a variety of out-of-the-box data feeds. Data available on the Live Earth platform include overlays such as real-time traffic flow, traffic incidents, social media reports, news, crime statistics for a delivery area, and flood sensors. These feeds provide real-time information on the latest traffic conditions, social events that could impact truckers, and even high risk areas.
Fleet managers can leverage this additional data to have a more complete picture that gives insight to how weather events are affecting the areas their trucks are going through. This provides them with a way to more accurately identify mounting issues, such as weather events, social events, or severe traffic that could lead to costly delays. Managers that can see these problems in real-time are equipped with the knowledge to reroute their fleets, direct their drivers to stop all together, or keep a watchful eye as their trucks head through potentially dangerous areas.
Putting it All Together
Fathym and Live Earth can be used to improve the current approach to fleet management. To illustrate, imagine a truck transporting hazardous materials. Fleet managers can use the Live Earth platform’s “Add Route” feature, which allows them to route the journey and choose to get weather forecast—choosing this creates the route with Fathym’s predictive weather.
The data loads into the future, giving operators insight into weather events down to the street level. Additionally, Fathym provides wind speeds, which is a crucial component in the trucking industry. With these two components, managers can interact with the weather and wind speed data to have a deeper understanding of how weather impacts their vehicles in the moment, and how it could impact them along the entire route.
In Live Earth’s “Add Route” feature, fleet managers can specify the vehicle is a truck. They can input truck details like number of axles and truck dimensions. They can also identify the hazardous materials the truck is carrying so that the route created will place trucks on the roads they are permitted to travel on.
From here, shapes can be created to use as a geofence around the truck’s route. This shape can be used to create customized alerts that will send notifications directly to the managers when the alert is triggered. This allows users to receive updates on anything from news stories in the area to wind speeds to traffic flow. They can also use IoT sensors to generate alerts about changes in conditions such as humidity levels, temperature, or anything else that might be of importance for a fleet manager. These alerts provide fleet managers with real-time insights that empowers them to make informed decisions.
Key Takeaway: A Complete Picture for an Empowered Approach
With weather having such massive impacts on trucking delays, and more importantly human life, fleet managers need a viable solution that enhances the insight of conditions not just at the atmospheric level, but all the way down to road conditions. Managers who have insights into hyper-localized weather will be able to better prepare their drivers for inclement weather, allow them to make necessary adjustments to routes, and increase overall safety on the road for their cargo, drivers, and commuters.
A variety of unpredictable situations can impact truck drivers along their route. With so many factors in play, fleet managers need up-to-date information that gives them a realistic view of the conditions surrounding their fleet. Adopting new technology such as Fathym and Live Earth provides managers with a holistic picture of their operations.
Leveraging these types of insights eliminates some of the unpredictably and equips managers with information that is pivotal to the success of the trip and the safety and security of their drivers and trucks. By implementing these advanced solutions, managers have actionable insights that help them better prepare their truck drivers. More than that, it can reduce delays, mitigate extraneous costs, and most importantly, enhance safety on the road for their drivers, trucks and everyday commuters.