I interviewed Paul Jakubicek who discussed Tech-Based Economic Development.
It’s great to speak with you today, Paul, and I’m looking forward to discussing with you the Big Truck Guide and solving transportation challenges. Before we start, can you provide a brief background of yourself?
Sure. Hi, Dustin, it’s great to talk to you. I grew up in Canada, and I worked in transportation for, really, all through my twenties into today. My background was, I started driving a truck right out of high school, and I started driving a truck even as I was going into university. I drove all across North America, really. I drove in a variety of industries, making deliveries to retail locations, in the oil field out west in Alberta, and then the towing and recovery industry, as well as doing some long-haul stints. I have a really good chance to get a good grasp of how transportation works, how trucking works.
In my education, I went and looked through challenges that people face in warehousing and logistics. I ended up driving a truck while I was going to school, so it gave me a really complete view of the industry, I think, and gave me a good position to come from when looking at challenges in transportation.
Can you talk about some of the major transportation challenges you see?
What I see today as some of the major transportation challenges are, in North America there’s big potential coming up, I think, for technology in transportation, and it’s going to happen a lot quicker than it has been in the past. Transport and logistics have been, in some ways it’s really quick to adapt to new technologies, but it still hasn’t really been picked up to the full extent that it can be.
Now, with all these Uber-like apps for trucking that seem to be cropping up, I really believe that it’s only a matter of time before one of these applications really takes off and takes a big part of the trucking pie. What that means is that there’s going to be a lot of space for a lot of different service providers providing supplementary services for the transport industry. I think that’s one of the big challenges that trucking companies are going to face, this kind of threat from transportation.
Another thing that really is coming up and is a big challenge for transportation is funding and keeping—especially in the U.S.—keeping the road network financed. Where is the new money going to come from in terms of keeping the roadways up to date? Also, what are the new technologies that are going to be invested in for that physical stock? We’re seeing this new growth in natural-gas vehicles. Is that going to continue and to what extent? Siemens is developing trucks that can run off of overhead catenary lines that could be hung on highways. That’s another exciting development.
I think on the physical side, maybe in the next ten years, we’re going to start to see real changes in that mix of transportation vehicles. It’s not going to be just diesel-burning trucks that are on the roads.
Is there more you can say about how you can solve these challenges?
Paul: I think that it’s going to be…there are a few ways. When taking a look at funding challenges and new technologies that are coming up, I think it’s a matter of finding a new business model that companies can follow in order to implement new physical solutions. If you look at things like, there’s talk of freight in tubes that can be moved, similar to Elon Musk’s Hyperloop system. What if you put freight in tubes and shot it around?
There’s the challenge of coming up with business models that actually go about solving these challenges. Those business models have to be come up with and verified in order to make these kinds of really unique solutions valid. In terms of solving challenges, in terms of coming up with solutions for the technology side, I think that’s happening now, and that’s really going to take off.
With my solution that I have, the Big Truck Guide, which is a Web site that provides information for drivers, carriers, and shippers, this is the kind of solution that has come up. It’s affordable, it’s ready for people to use, and they can use it to supplement services provided by big-truckload carriers in terms of their safety-and-compliance people. You can supplement and help these kinds of people. I think there are services that will come in that will start to solve these problems.
Can you tell me your story about the Big Truck Guide?
Paul: How it started was, I was working for a large truckload carrier in Ontario, Canada, and what I saw was essentially how complicated trucking regulations are, especially throughout eastern Canada and the eastern U.S. What I mean by that is that you have a lot of different truck types—a lot of different numbers of axles and variable amounts of weights on those axles—so you end up with, we had one possible scenario where somebody could go from, a truck could go from Ontario to Québec, put various axles down in each of those provinces in order to comply, then travel into Michigan back through Ontario with a load, and have to put down different axle combinations in Québec, Ontario, and then all of the axles in Michigan, then lift up a few axles and travel into Ohio to pick up the backhaul to go back into Ontario.
You had these trailers that are really contrived and they have all these axles you can move up and down and all the regulations are different everywhere. Really, the problem is that all these transportation regulations are only kept in the minds of the few professionals who work at truckload carriers. I saw this problem over and over again at this carrier and as a driver and, really, a lack of clear information about legal truck weights and sizes in the industry. What bothered me was that people would always tell me that this wasn’t something that could easily be solved. I went and developed this solution that really does do that, and it does it by taking a step further and going and having the * (8:36—unclear) regulations in order to provide semi truck weights that are clear for everybody’s understanding.
Thanks, today, for sharing this information about the Big Truck Guide.
Thank you very much, Dustin. If I can, one final point I’d like to make in terms of transportation-management systems is that, typically, transportation-management systems are implemented in large companies by coming in and talking with transportation managers in companies and implementing transportation-management solutions in order to come up with all those truck weights. I also hope the Big Truck Guide will be a way for transportation-management solutions to take advantage of this information to have clear information about truck weights and sizes.
Where can we go to learn more about the Big Truck Guide?
It’s at www.BigTruckGuide.com.
Thank you very much, Dustin.
About Paul Jakubicek
Founder and Head of Research at Freight Transport Research Institute