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Navigating the Future Will Require Collaboration

By Gino Fontana

Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange

I was at a meeting recently where several speakers talked about the trucking industry being on the edge of tremendous technological change. Nearly every day, it seems as if there is yet another announcement about development in alternative powertrains, whether that is battery-eclectic, hydrogen fuel cell, compressed natural gas, renewal fuels, or hybrids; the list seems to go on and on.

At the same time, we are also seeing significant inroads in charging infrastructureautonomous vehicle technology, virtual and augmented reality, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.

One common theme I noticed in many of the announcements about these developments is the fact that companies are collaborating with each other to advance various technologies more quickly than would happen if the companies chose to work alone.

That got me thinking about our day-to-day operations and the need for cooperation among a wide range of people. While having a network of people to call on when a problem occurs is important, it seems to me it is becoming even more important to have a strong network of people to bounce around ideas, to learn from and to help us understand the vast amount of new data being created every day.

Here are some people you should consider “adding to your team” as resources that can help you more successfully navigate the changing landscape.

Your truck manufacturer(s) should be your strategic partner. Make sure that you develop relationships not only with people at your local dealership but also with people at the corporate level. You will get different perspectives from people depending on what their jobs are and insights from the truck makers themselves can be invaluable in helping you see what is on the horizon in terms of product development and parts and service improvements. Of course, as a good partner, you must make the investment in the proper tooling, software, and training needed to properly operate and maintain your vehicles.

If you are not already talking to other fleet managers, you should be. It is likely that you have common challenges, and you could benefit from sharing information. I am not suggesting giving away “the secret sauce,” but chatting with your peers can be quite beneficial if for no other reason than you might get validation that they share your struggles.

If you have not returned to “the trade show circuit,” now is a good time to consider doing so. While virtual events helped us all stay informed during COVID, face-to-face events provide more opportunities for learning both in the formal meeting sessions and from conversations during meals and coffee breaks.

Get involved in your state and local trucking associations, especially if you want to make sure trucking’s voice is heard by government officials and policymakers.

You also need to be involved with your local technical and trade schools. Offer to review their curriculum to ensure they are teaching the skills you need in your organization, teach a class, or host a group of students at your office so they can see firsthand how a fleet operates.

As trucking faces its latest round of technological changes and other challenges, you would be wise to have your own network of people to help you navigate through the twists and turns. But remember, cooperation is a two-way street, so be prepared to share your experiences and knowledge with them, or you might find yourself going it alone.

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