"Route optimization tells you how you should deliver the goods in the most efficient way," says Penn. "Mobile communications allows you to communicate that to the driver by sending it directly to his handheld. And it allows you to keep up with where the driver is and what deliveries are complete, so if there are delays or if problems arise, I can react faster and provide better customer service."
Penn, whose company provides optimization software and consulting services, says there are four barriers to the adoption of these technologies. One is regulation. "There are a lot of concerns out there about the use of onboard computers and driver distraction," Penn says. He notes, however, that many uses of the technology do not require a driver to do anything. "With mobile technology I can build geo-fences around my customers' locations that will allow me to know when a driver allows and departs that facility simply by his driving through the geo-fence."
A second barrier is that the technology is evolving rapidly, making it difficult for buyers to know when to "pull the trigger" and make an investment.
A third barrier is infrastructure at carriers' terminals. "In many offices or docks you still see old CRTs that will not support the three-dimensional images that show you how to optimally load products into trucks," he says.
The fourth and scariest barrier is the degree to which these technologies depend on frontline users, he says. "We have to be careful to make sure the technology is simple and easy to use or the end-user will not adapt," he says.
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