Dupré Logistics


Future-Proofing Transportation Technology Against Planned Obsolescence

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

When you’re having to roll out technology integrations across a large user base, such as an entire fleet of trucks, the reliability of a technology solution can have far-reaching impacts on the bottom line of operations, safety of employees and customer satisfaction. With so many vendors and technology options available, successful implementation throughout an organization is no small feat and demands a strategic approach to guarantee the best return on investment.

When it comes to purchasing, the most common concern is an issue of longevity. Decision-makers are looking to adopt technology solutions that will last while still being effective far into their lifespan. However, this is proving more and more difficult due to one singular issue: planned obsolescence.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of planned obsolescence, you absolutely should be—it will affect almost every technology decision you will ever make.

What is Planned Obsolescence?

Planned obsolescence (or built-in obsolescence as it’s sometimes called) is a commonly observed practice where products are intentionally designed and manufactured with an artificial length of useable life so that they eventually become obsolete after a predetermined period of time. Notably, this practice is incredibly common in the technology sector and has been documented in everything from smartphones to lightbulbs.

As consumers, we’ve grown largely accustomed to these routine cycles of change—and for a good reason: technology has a tendency to advance at a fast rate. As new features are designed and software updated, upgrading equipment to newer, faster and flashier models feels appropriate. When it comes to companies operating in competitive environments, these routine upgrades often feel downright necessary—and they often are.

How Has This Practice Impacted the Logistics Industry?

Technology has always played a pivotal role in the field of commercial transportation, but when the ELD mandate was signed into action in 2016, it changed the trucking industry in a profound way. It necessitated the use of sophisticated in-cab technology solutions for hours of service (HOS) recording and, as a result, the number of ELD certified technology vendors exploded, leading to a tightly contested technology race.

Now, key decision-makers are having to sift through over 100 ELD-certified technology vendors to choose the most effective solutions, implement these solutions across entire fleets and anticipate advances in technology to estimate cycles of change. For obvious reasons, this has proved to be a daunting task.

Integrating Planned Obsolescence Into Operations

According to Dupré Logistics CIO, Bob Verret, future-proofing technology solutions in this rapidly changing environment is difficult but not impossible. To address planned obsolescence, you can’t try to future-proof technology solutions. Instead, you have to future-proof operations. To do this successfully, you must plan to accommodate routine cycles of technology change by incorporating them into operations. To start, you must set realistic timeframes that are benchmarked by a measurable standard.

As an example, Dupré won’t run a truck beyond 650,000 miles or four years. This provides a clear start and end point to plan around. As the truck is brought in for routine maintenance per expected service intervals, this downtime can be used to update technology components as deemed necessary across an entire fleet. This sort of planning becomes particularly important with respect to meeting government regulations and fleet utilization.

Planning for the Future

While there’s no way to directly future-proof against built-in cycles of technology change, you can plan to address these changes through adjusting your operations to accommodate them. If done correctly, you can keep your fleet up to date with new technology while allowing for updates into the future.

To learn more about how other technologies are influencing the world of supply chain management, please visit our blog here.

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