Transportation and logistics experts reveal how 5G expansion is set to transform the industry–and accelerate customer expectations.

Truck interior

For much of its history, the transportation industry operated with little influence from connective technology. Even today, many fleets rely on paper-based administration and reporting. But as operators face increased demand for efficiency as well as growing regulatory requirements, network integration is becoming more of the norm. With the expansion of 5G, the industry is poised not only for greater productivity but a complete shift in operations.

Such was the forecast from industry experts like Tess Van Thielen, Vice President of Advanced Services, Rogers for Business, who recently spoke at the 20th annual Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto.

Van Thielen, along with leaders from Amazon Web Services and Fleet Complete, used their panel to share insights on how they view the sector’s future with the addition of 5G technology.

“With 4G you get information on-demand while 5G moves towards full automation.” – Tess Van Thielen

Not just a number: How 5G changes the game

Those outside the technical sphere may understandably wonder how much 5G truly differs from 4G and older networks. “What we think about 4G today relates to monitoring and remote management. With 4G you get information on-demand while 5G moves towards full automation,” explains Van Thielen. According to the panel, the major distinguishing factors between 5G and its predecessors are speed and the ability of the network to handle the volume of data needed for complex processing.

On the road: Two ways 5G will transform fleets

The widespread adoption of 5G will create significant changes to the current operational structure and role of transport companies, primarily through the new data that will become available. “Today’s data is descriptive,” says Van Thielen. “But analytics are now moving towards predictive. That’s the future.”

“Today’s data is descriptive. But analytics are now moving towards predictive. That’s the future.” – Tess Van Thielen

  1. Creating safer roads

Increasing driver safety is a top goal for all fleet owners, but also the most challenging. “The hardest thing to predict is drivers. We are the biggest variable,” says Van Thielen. Using data captured from 5G analytics, drivers can receive real-time coaching and notifications of unfavourable road conditions to reduce potential accidents. “Every year hundreds of people die on the road in my city. I love the idea that we can make this number zero,” says Van Thielen.

  1. Reducing fleet downtime

Unscheduled maintenance and repairs are a huge ongoing problem in the industry. The panel describes a future scenario where a vehicle would receive an alert for an upcoming maintenance issue with directions to the nearest mechanic capable of performing the repair. The shop would also receive this data and prepare for the appointment prior to arrival. Though this interconnected system is not yet in place, diagnostic sensors are currently available and instrumental in reducing unscheduled downtime.

The big shift: Trucking as a service vs. product

The use of 5G will ultimately change the way transport is considered as an industry. “We are seeing more and more customers looking for ‘outcomes,’” explains Van Thielen. “They’re not interested in buying a product. They’re coming with a problem and looking for a technology to provide a solution.” The panel echoes this sentiment and explains the evolution of vehicle sensors from a single GPS tracker to a full collection of sensors monitoring the comprehensive condition of each piece. The resulting data provides transparency and reliability, reducing the unknown factors typically associated with transport cargo. “It’s a huge movement,” says Van Thielen. “Ultimately they want you to guarantee an outcome.”

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