In this day and age, innovations in the trucking industry come fast. If you aren’t prepared to install the newest innovation as soon as it’s released, you could find yourself already behind your industry peers. However, just because it’s the newest innovation doesn’t always make it the right innovation.
Recently, the conversation at Saia hasn’t been “How can we add all of these innovations?” but rather, “Which of these new innovations can we add that align with our systems and beliefs?” Focusing on the latter has allowed Saia to innovate in a more goal-oriented manner by installing technologies that integrate more effectively with existing systems. With that in mind, we’ve been focusing on innovations that improve safety and overall operational efficiencies.
With the safety of our drivers and the general public always being our top priority, it’s no surprise that this is where we’ve made some of our largest monetary investments. And, after learning from a recent University of Michigan study that 70-80 percent of cars are at fault in commercial truck/car incidents, it is clear that every investment in our drivers’ safety is warranted. The benefit here is that most driver-centric safety upgrades extend to the public.
The Bose Ride System, one of our most recent innovative technology additions, has been installed in all our 2017 tractors to encourage safe driving. The system, which consists of a computerized vibration reduction seat, physically reacts to forces and changes in road texture — dramatically reducing impact to the driver. While the system primarily promotes comfort by minimizing back pain and general fatigue, the result is more alert drivers that are less distracted by bumps in the road and the soreness that that can be caused after hundreds of miles of driving.
Our installation of LYTX DriveCam driver-facing cameras are yet another innovative safety improvement. This system captures both driver and traffic footage. The camera system, which reacts to accident indicators (lane deviation, following distance, abrupt stopping), helps to enforce safe driving practices, making roads safer for both Saia’s drivers and the motoring public.
Additionally, we have continued to upgrade our collision avoidance technologies with the Meritor and Bindex Wingman systems. This suite of technologies includes adaptive cruise control, a collision mitigation system, a break deployment system, as well as lane deviation and blind spot warnings for our drivers.
Our commitment to improving operational efficiencies through innovation is found primarily in the terminals where new technology consistently provides greater returns year after year. Here we’ve equipped every forklift with an upgraded tablet, as well as integrated fork scales. The tablets, meant to provide a better user experience, also reduce the amount of clutter on the forklift. The scales provide dockworkers with a more efficient and accurate measuring process that help with weight compliance laws.
We’ve also upgraded the handheld phone systems of our terminal workers to include better cell reception and photo capture capabilities, which allows for an increase in more timely communication and freight visibility These improvements help to make the overall process of shipping our customer’s freight that much more accurate and timely.
What the future holds in terms of trucking technology and innovation is beginning to become a bit clearer. Electric vehicles, platooning and autonomous trucks are all on the horizon for the industry as whole. However, as previously stated, just because the opportunity may be available, doesn’t mean it fits the existing systems and goals of Saia.
The transportation industry is constantly churning out new technologies, making it easy to get caught up in thinking you need the latest innovation. Saia’s commitment to ensuring that it gets the right technology is what sets Saia apart as an innovative leader in the industry.
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