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Balancing strategic priorities and operational improvements in the construction business often begins and ends with smart technology investments. But making better decisions for businesses can often be a complex task.

The pandemic meant businesses had to “go remote” with technologies that helped digitize and increase contactless operations in 2020. Those responsible for construction fleets saw surprising advantages as they discovered new ways to effectively manage their assets, employees, and business on-the-go through mobile devices.

Now that we’re in 2021, what are the fleet technology trends to look out for?

Continued Sunsetting of 3G

With the anticipated sunsetting of 3G in favor of 4G LTE networks in the near future, contractors will need to prepare for the impact on their connected vehicles and trucks. In 2021, fleet managers and contractors should pay close attention to their network providers and check in on timelines, while taking inventory of connected vehicles that are currently using a 3G network to develop a transition plan.

Sunsetting 3G allows providers to free up as much capacity as possible to accommodate higher demand. The benefits of upgrading from 3G to 4G LTE include extended coverage, improved network reliability, and faster speeds while using apps and software platforms for tracking, inventory, and more. For contractors, this means more accurate GPS location data for trucks heading to jobsites, near real-time notifications of driving incidents and more reliable communication across their crews.

AI and Machine Learning to Manage Data

Already, fleets have become increasingly connected, creating a large cache of data requiring a significant time commitment to sift through and assess. Video data in particular may present a challenge for fleet managers who are short on time to watch and analyze videos for driving behavior, for example. By investing in technology that applies AI algorithms to analyze the video data, fleet managers can save time by receiving video insights that are automatically classified by the AI system, so they can focus and prioritize issues that matter most.

As technology continues to evolve and demand for faster networks grows, the advancement and further deployment of AI and machine learning in fleet management solutions will require more computing power and more bandwidth. This network demand by new technologies will require the next generation 5G network which promises increased bandwidth and capacity.

At the same time, AI and machine learning features are not exclusive to the next generation network and run on current networks today. Business owners and fleet managers can follow these trends and differentiate their business by staying at the forefront of new fleet tools and technologies that leverage AI and machine learning and that will one day run on future 5G networks.

The Case for Electric Fleets

Electric vehicle demand will continue to grow for consumers and fleets alike in 2021. With companies like Amazon pledging to have 10,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2022, the need to pivot toward green, cost-saving technologies will only become stronger.

New regulations in vehicle emissions that coincide with increases in EV vehicle production will continue to evolve as federal and state governments set benchmarks to encourage the adoption of electronic fleets to drive environmental sustainability. For example, this past June, California’s Air Resources Board approved the Advanced Clean Trucks Regulation, which requires more than half of the trucks sold in the state to be electric by 2035. With a new federal administration focused on climate change, business leaders can expect an upward trajectory for regulations promoting electric fleets.

From a business perspective, electric fleets bring major benefits. With the price of fuel changing frequently, fleet managers face the challenge of accounting for a major cost in a constant state of flux. By integrating or switching to electric trucks, contractors can reduce or eliminate the volatility of fuel costs, ensuring that business operations are not adversely affected. From a maintenance perspective, an electric motor can have as little as 20 moving parts, compared to a combustion engine that can have more than 2,000. Fewer parts means reduced maintenance costs and less time for fleets to be stuck in the repair shop, ultimately leading to a more efficient and cost effective fleet.

With the strong business case for EV fleets paralleling regulatory efforts to encourage adoption, 2021 may be the year to assess the cost-effectiveness of a mixed or fully electric fleet. This trend in parallel with the sunsetting of 3G and the increased use of AI and machine learning in fleet management systems should be top of mind for fleet managers across all industries, including construction, in 2021.


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