5 Reasons Why Trucks Need Customized Navigation Systems

Following these few straightforward concepts, navigation systems can vastly improve the trucking industry.

Trucking companies are constantly waging a battle for better technology that will lower fuel costs and shorten delivery times, but there’s one area that they all need to remember to take full advantage of:

Navigation systems.

Truck drivers have long since used navigation systems to give them all the information they need, and many manufacturers have also realized the value of going above and beyond with these systems. Embedded navigation that’s customized for the needs of trucks will save time and money for everyone involved.

What sort of customization do truck drivers need? Here are five examples, based on our experiences working in this field.

trucks need navigation

Fuel Efficiency

Optimizing fuel efficiency is obviously a high priority for all shipping companies. There are numerous ways this can be done better with an embedded navigation system. It should act as a link between a truck and a driver to make sure that they are both working to use the smallest amount of fuel possible.

It goes far beyond calculating the shortest route or dodging traffic jams. One of the best ways is to use a method that determines the route based on multiple forms of data, such as quality and curvature of the road. Including factors such as the slope of the road and uphill driving is crucial to the calculations.

Using this type of knowledge, the navigation system can measure a short distance driven, and then give information that’s useful for long-term calculations. For example, even a small route of around 60 km can save up to seven liters of fuel when using height profiling. Just imagine calculating that across the entire expected distance over the lifetime of the truck!

Trucks Need Their Own Icons

Many user-friendly navigation systems have a series of easily-recognizable icons that appear to alert drivers about the next actions they will take. A typical system in a car can do everything it needs with around 16 icons, but trucks need a lot more. As a matter of fact, the limit of how many icons they need is as endless as the open road.

A car simply needs to know there is a left curve ahead, and then another icon can inform the driver of what comes next. A heavy truck, on the other hand, can benefit from knowing the exact angles of a complex curve. This will help drivers prepare for all upcoming shifts in the road, and allow them to regulate their speed more efficiently. Also, putting these icons in the center can really help the driver keep their eyes on the road.

It may not sound like this is would make much difference, but just imagine how much help you would want if you were driving a vehicle that is over 20 meters long and weighs nearly 40 tons!

cockpit view of trucks on highway with navigation

Don’t Forget About Complex Lane Choices

Aside from just knowing what’s coming up, it’s critical that truck drivers have detailed information about their lane choices. They need to have specific information highlighted before they get to it, such as width of the lane, weight limits, or height of any bridges they will travel beneath.

Different Map Views

Trucks face many restrictions on where they’re allowed to drive, and this means they can really benefit from having different map views than cars.

The most straightforward way is to divide them between soft and hard restrictions. Hard are those physical limitations that prevent trucks from traveling there. They include tunnels, bridges, or other things that aren’t large or strong enough. Soft limitations are legal restrictions, and they’re roads were vehicles of a certain size are simply not allowed to drive.

One easy way we’ve found to distinguish this for drivers is to make the roads a different color on the map. For example, a threatening color like red can show hard roads, and soft can be demonstrated by a slightly more mild color, such as orange.

Pay Attention to Other Special Restrictions

All of the minor restrictions that trucks face, such as speed limits and ferry limitations, also shouldn’t be overlooked. One of the most efficient ways of handling these is to design the navigation in such a way that it can communicate directly with other computer systems in the truck. This will allow the navigation to suggest the best routes based on changing variables within the truck, and won’t require additional effort from the driver.

For one example of how this can help, just think about the weight. If the navigation automatically knows how heavy the truck is without having the numbers manually entered, then it can give an appropriate route while saving time and difficulty for the driver.

There are many other ways this can be used, including power train optimization (such as automatic gear shifts or gear recommendations) based on slope and curvature data, integration with fleet management systems (such as selection of destination), and integration with built-in tachometers (such as automatic search for parking lots when reaching allowed driving time).

tanker truck on highway with navigation

Not the End of the Road

These five features worked into truck navigation systems can really make a big difference, but that doesn’t mean the job is done. Automotive technology will continue to change, and both manufacturers and drivers need to keep up with it in order to make those deliveries as fast and cheap as possible.


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