What the Truckstops of the Future Will Look Like

January 22, 2016 by Justin Stoltzfus, SjStoltz

There’s a lot of new technology in today’s trucking industry. From modern GPS systems to hours of service logging, today’s average big rig has a lot of digital functionality packed into it. But what can truck drivers expect at truckstops?

Big-truck plazas and truckstop chains aren’t content to drift away into obsolescence. Instead, planners are coming up with new features that are based on brand-new technologies to help truckers do their jobs better. Many of these are based on convenience and promoting a more seamless experience for truck drivers in a variety of ways — and many of these will continue to advance as companies build the truckstops of the future.

Cardless Fuel Payment Systems

One of the brand-new features getting integrated into truckstops right now is cardless or wireless fuel payment technologies. Using the radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, or “chips,” that toll plazas utilize for express service, the systems allow truck drivers to pump for gas without cash so they don’t have to stand on the plaza thumbing through their wallet or typing in a PIN number.

A September piece in the Truckstop.com blog written by Patrick Dickard talks about how cardless fueling and other technologies will revolutionize the industry.

“The future truck and the technology that will be available is out of this world,” writes Dickard, talking about the inevitability of driverless trucks. As for truck plazas, Dickard talks about RFID tags that send signals to sensors on a fuel pump, thus decreasing stop times and helping drivers get back on the road more quickly.

Kealey Dorian, a media specialist at Love’s Truck Stops, agrees. With more than 360 locations in 40 states, Love’s is a big name in trucking. Dorian says Love’s is working on RFID cardless fueling systems.

“It’s a safety factor for drivers.” Dorian says. “It makes things easier and quicker.”

Other Futuristic Technology

Dorian also talks about her company’s plan to create more of a “highway hospitality” approach to truckstop design. Now, she said, Love’s is experimenting with venturing into the hotel industry. The company has already bought four hotels in Texas, Georgia, and Florida and is looking to acquire 10 more. These hotels, which still bear the original brands, feature the kinds of modern amenities you see elsewhere, such as modern business centers to provide truckers with digital communications and gyms for improved health — a major issue in the trucking industry. In fact, by offering modern gyms, truckstops are giving truckers the opportunity to get more out of evolving wearables and other IoT (Internet of Things) devices that will almost certainly become part of our future digital lifestyles.

Back-End Office Systems

Dorian also talked about another big advancement in how Love’s is working to support truck drivers: invoice factoring.

Essentially, invoice factoring involves taking on the debt that a truck driver is owed. Dorian says it’s extremely important for independent owner-operators who would otherwise have to do a lot of legwork to get paid. Loves pays the driver and then collects the money from the party on the invoice.

“It’s a type of back-office support,” Dorian says.

Over time, all of those cutting-edge technologies that are currently being pioneered will get put into the truckstops of the future, which will offer drivers more comfort and flexibility while they’re on the road. Look for these types of innovations as you move along American highways.

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