Many carriers and brokers have apps for tracking shipments. Most want drivers to download their apps to ensure that the load is picked up on time, delivered on time, and can be monitored along the way to see if the truck is moving along at the right pace, or even going in the right direction.

These apps are a great tool for customers, brokers, and carriers in this digital age where everyone wants to instantly know where their loads are located. These apps have also been great for drivers, who either fail to make check calls or give updates en route. 

Of course, these apps are not without their opposition from some drivers. Some drivers refuse to download them and be tracked, others will download and use them, but have concerns about tracking after the load is delivered. Then there is the question of what really is being tracked with these apps.

A driver downloads a tracking app to his/her phone for a customer, carrier, or broker. Obviously, the thought is, that if the driver is driving, he or she will have their phone with them, and thus will track the truck and/or trailer with the load. Sounds logical, right? 9 out of 10 times this would be correct. However, we all lose things from time to time, and sometimes things get stolen from us.

This applies to phones, too. These apps track the driver’s phone, not the actual shipment. 
If the truck is stolen while the driver is at a truck stop, the app is no longer tracking the load, but tracking the driver. If the driver loses his or her phone, the shipment is no longer being tracked. If the driver picks up a load that is a 2-day trip, but has 5 days to get there for their appointment and stops along the way to use the extra time for some personal activities, the driver is being tracked once they park the truck.

In this day and age, hasn’t someone come up with a better way to track shipments? Wouldn’t it be better to actually track the load? Yes, there are trailer tracking devices that actually track the trailer with the load, but these can be a problem with customers and carriers who do not also own the trailers.

Why couldn’t customers add tracking devices to their loads? Something attached to their pallets or products? This would eliminate the need to rely on the driver to have a phone app and use it properly. Portable, reusable devices that are attached to the products, just as tilt watch and tip-n-tell indicators are attached directly to the load.

These types of devices are available. There are multiple companies providing these devices for a multitude of uses. Many are reusable, rechargeable, work on WiFi and/or 4G cellular networks, and are actually cost-effective. When will customers take on the responsibility of handling the tracking they desire in a more effective and accurate way? Hopefully, these will be commonplace for shipments soon. 

On a side note, for those who own their trailers and worry about it, these devices could give you some peace of mind to know that your trailer is where you dropped it, or where it’s going, if it is taken by another driver.

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Greg Huggins

Greg has been in the trucking industry since the late 1980s. After spending 25+ years as an owner operator with United Van Lines, he leased to Landstar Express America in 2014. Greg is always trying to learn something new and share what he has learned with others.

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