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The Future of Fleet Mobility: Q&A with Trimble’s Adrian Harding

Regardless of what freight a carrier hauls, fleet management technology is critical to making sure that shipments get from Point A to Point B efficiently and safely. Encompassing everything from telematics, Hours of Service (HoS), Video Intelligence, navigation and more, fleet mobility solutions are the backbone of the transportation and logistics industry.

We connected with Adrian Harding, Business Area Manager for Trimble Transportation’s North American Mobility division, to get the scoop on what’s trending in the fleet management space right now, where mobility technology is headed, and how drivers and carrier solutions fit into the connected supply chain.

Tell us about your career path and your current role at Trimble.

My background is originally in geospatial data for transportation and energy, and over the years I’ve transitioned from a technology-focus to a business focus. In 2011 I joined a company called GEOTrac, which Trimble ended up acquiring in 2012. Since then have held a variety of roles in Trimble’s Transportation sector.

Today, I am responsible for Trimble Transportation’s fleet mobility and driver solutions including telematics, electronic logging devices (ELDs) and our Video Intelligence solutions.  It is my privilege to help guide our business strategy, deliver solutions and new features to best serve the needs of our customers. 

What is our Fleet Mobility team focused on right now?

Our team is focused on ensuring the quality and reliability of our solutions, and communicating effectively with our customers and their users to make sure that the features we are delivering are both addressing current needs and preparing to serve future ones.

Some examples I’m happy to share with you are our forthcoming Video Intelligence camera system with Artificial Intelligence-driven events, our new driver experience (Instinct), and the Trimble Fleet Manager portal which includes major upgrades to reporting, and streamlines many tasks Safety and Fleet Operations people do on a daily basis.  We’re also building out a more comprehensive plan for our upcoming product releases and enhancements, and evaluating how we develop solutions from the initial idea all the way to its final delivery and implementation with customers. We love talking to carriers and drivers about their needs and challenges, and working with them to develop and deliver solutions that meet those needs in a very transportation-specific way.

We’re closely examining the customer experience as well, taking a more holistic view of what it’s like to use Trimble solutions as a driver, to deploy Trimble solutions as a technician, how our customers are maintaining and upgrading solutions, ensuring our customer support experience is streamlined and readily available, and that our integrations are seamless and easy to use.

What are some hot topics in the transportation mobility space that you’re paying close attention to right now? 

The electrification of transportation infrastructure is something that’s a really hot topic right now and I’m sure we’re going to be seeing a lot more of it in the coming years, since electric trucks are really only just entering the market now. I believe the rise of electric vehicles will continue to take hold, and as an industry, we will need to adapt to all the new processes that come along with it – maintenance; fueling and optimization; taxation policies and state and federal regulatory regimes; route planning; driver adoption, etc. The items are beginning to impact final and middle mile fleets, and bleeding into over the road fleets.

The sunset of 3G wireless networks and rollout of 5G networks is another important topic for fleet mobility. With the upcoming early 2022 dates for the beginning of the 3G shutdown, we are working closely with our carrier customers to ensure that their devices are 4G LTE-enabled, in order to ensure that their operations will be able to continue without any interruptions in connectivity. 

And, of course, no interview about fleet mobility would be complete without mentioning the Canadian ELD mandate. While Canada’s ELD mandate officially went into effect on June 12, 2021, it also coincided with the start of a progressive enforcement period that is centered on elevated education and awareness of the mandate.

We are actively working to help our customers and their drivers understand the differences between the U.S. and Canadian ELD mandates, and we’re working very closely with Transport Canada certification bodies to gain certification for our ELD solution for use under the rules of the Canadian mandate.

What are some of the current trends in fleet management solutions you’re seeing? 

Fleets today want to be very engaged with their drivers, for a variety of reasons, including retention, efficiency and safety. One of the biggest requests we get from customers is how to communicate with their drivers more proactively, in a way that enhances the driver experience. As an organization, we are always looking for ways to make drivers’ jobs easier, more efficient and safer, so we really enjoy building out new solutions to assist fleets with things like remote training, enhanced navigation, driver feedback and more. We’re also very cognizant of providing a simple, visually-appealing user experience and interface for our driver-facing solutions, making it as easy as possible to navigate our apps.

Additionally, we’re increasingly seeing original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) begin to move into the truck data space, providing the hardware and solutions fleets need directly in the truck through the vehicle gateway – Telematics-as-a-Service, essentially. Trimble has been practicing this model with OEMs for many years and it’s an approach that we believe will gain momentum in the future. With this in mind, we’re increasingly focused on developing cloud-based solutions that provide in-depth, actionable insights based on the data coming from the gateway.

Where do you see fleet management technology heading in the next few years?

We’re currently in a moment where workflows are becoming increasingly prescriptive and automated, which is a trend I foresee continuing in a big way in the coming years due to the rise in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Workflows are continually evolving and changing what jobs in the transportation industry look like, for the better. Solutions are becoming much more tailored to specific contexts, and better at presenting information or tasks at times when they are actually relevant, such as a driver arriving at a distribution center. 

I’m also really looking forward to new advanced technologies that will be enabled once the 5G wireless network rolls out more comprehensively across the U.S., such as degrees of  autonomy for all vehicles on the road, for example, which I think will make the roads safer for all users, including commercial carriers.

And as I mentioned earlier, with OEMs increasingly providing telematics hardware directly installed in vehicles, we expect to see fleet management technology adapt by providing the ability to aggregate OEM systems and harmonize a driver’s experience of mobile software underpinned by any OEM truck. That’s one of our “north star” guiding principles right now from a product development standpoint – Trimble will be ready for that reality. 

Where do Trimble's fleet management solutions fit into the connected supply chain?

Our fleet management solutions and the carriers and drivers that utilize them are absolutely critical to a connected supply chain. Telematics data generated by drivers and by trucks is the basis for countless solutions throughout the supply chain and is an essential source for many of the details that enable a connected supply chain, including driver experience, driver availability, asset and shipment location, equipment health, estimated time of arrival, compliance with eRODS, IFTA and DVIR requirements, predictive maintenance and so much more. 

Fleet mobility solutions can answer so many questions during the execution of a shipment beyond ‘where are my assets?’ - What other loads can I haul with the people and assets I have available? How can I get a driver the tools they need to be more satisfied?  How can I move this shipment in the fastest and most fuel-efficient way? The connections between Trimble fleet mobility solutions like ELDs and enterprise solutions like TMS and maintenance solutions can unlock so many more efficiencies and maximize uptime and utilization. 

Trimble is invested in building out solutions that can work across the entire supply chain to help our customers and their drivers move freight more efficiently, to benefit everyone involved.

Thanks, Adrian!

For more information about Trimble’s fleet mobility technology, check out our wide range of solutions designed to help you operate safely and more efficiently.