Wireless providers are beginning to roll out the fifth generation of wireless systems, 5G, to deploy faster, less expensive and more informative communications technology, initially in metropolitan locations.
One trucking company announced recently it already is updating about 1,700 trailers with 5G-compatible devices.
All Truck Transportation Inc. aims to monitor faster where its trailers are, their status and report the information back to its shippers that need to feed a steady stream of goods into their own customers’ fast-moving supply chains.
All Truck, a local and regional truckload carrier based in Chicago, is upgrading from existing 3G devices to the LTE LV-100 devices from PowerFleet Inc.
“3G sunsetting is something that is on the horizon,” All Truck President Nino Alagna told Transport Topics.
“We haul a lot of paper and packaging products, so all of our business is very trailer intensive. We can haul 50 loads a day out one manufacturing location and have 150 trailers in their entire operation. Our customers demand visibility to those trailers on a daily basis,” Alagna said. “They want to see where their trailers are and how long they have been sitting there so that they can control their trailer fleets as best as possible.”
About 70 percent of All Truck’s daily freight movements involve drop-and-hook interactions on both ends, Alagna said. In addition to its trailers, it operates 300 heavy-duty trucks.
The Federal Communications Commission reported 5G technology can provide higher data speeds with less delay than 4G [and 3G], sometimes referred to as 4G LTE [Long-Term Evolution]. Some 5G services will provide coverage areas with data speeds up to 100 times faster and almost instantaneous response time.
All Truck is installing each device on a landing gear wing plate. The LV-100 is untethered, which means it doesn’t have trailer power hooked to it. Its battery will last 10 years based on one report per day. As of mid-February, the carrier had placed the devices on 275 trailers and expects to complete the installations by June using its own employees.
“Last year, because of the ELD mandate and hours of service, a lot of people weren’t really focused on the trailer and container side of the house,” PowerFleet CEO Chris Wolfe told TT.
The key to trailer and asset utilization is visibility, he said.
“So if you have dark spots in your network, you won’t know where the trailers are, [and] you won’t know what the status is. [5G] is going to be a bigger and bigger issue as the months go on.”
5G coverage now is not a percentage of land mass, he said, instead, it is more population coverage.
Wolfe — a former division president of Qualcomm Wireless Business Solutions — suggested the U.S. is 18 to 24 months away from when it will all switch over to 5G, with some modest scheduling variation among the wireless carriers.