Trucking companies need to modernize in order to streamline operations and grow their businesses. Some fleets, both large and small, manage their operations by using systems that lack up-to-date features and the ability to scale. Or they’re still using homemade methods, like spreadsheets, to track driver plans and routes.
To increase profitability, fleets must incorporate productivity-boosting software and data into their operations. Faced with rising demand and a national driver shortage, trucking companies need to optimize their route plans and adopt other types of digital practices.
When it comes to transportation management, every minute is valuable. Cloud-based software allows fleets to automate plans and reporting, cultivate a better culture with more informed drivers, and track hours of service (HOS) and other items related to compliance mandates.
Despite data making its way into nearly every industry to optimize workflow, accelerate the speed of business, and increase revenue, only 23% of fleets are using it to inform decision-making. With cloud-based driver-management technology, it’s easy to obtain real-time insights into data and driver metrics. Planners can track routes and potential hindrances, such as crashes or traffic jams, to ensure that pickups and deliveries remain on time and on plan.
Digital transformation in transportation management is afoot. The bar for fleets to compete successfully is rising, and there’s a greater demand among fleets for real-time tracking software. The cloud is also useful for keeping compliance mandates top of mind. Real-time fleet management software and electronic logging devices can help managers eliminate potential missteps and decrease violations, encouraging best practices and improving safety for drivers everywhere.
Fleets across the spectrum, from truckload to less-than-truckload and final mile, need technology to efficiently manage planners, drivers and managers from any location. New cloud-based fleet-management and workflow systems can also help to improve decision-making going forward.
Finding and retaining qualified drivers has become extremely difficult for fleets, due to the driver shortage and employee churn. Following are some tips for addressing the issue.
- Fleet managers should incorporate drivers’ perspectives into the adoption of fleet-management technology and digital transformation initiatives. Technology should empower drivers, not be a pain point. Optimized routes result in better and happier drivers. Through adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning-enhanced software, fleet managers gain an abundance of knowledge, while drivers and others benefit from an intuitive user experience.
- By taking into account data, driver, and environmental variables that only route planners typically know, such as driver skillset and route difficulty, fleets will set drivers up for success. At the same time, planners get more time to review cases that require a more advanced level of experience. Route optimization and planning software is particularly useful for final-mile and LTL fleets, where drivers often make many stops per day for multiple customers. Due to the rise of e-commerce in 2020 and the amount of inventory that retailers need to keep up with demand, many fleets are busier than ever. They need technological tools that will allow them to increase efficiency and reliability.
- Increased communication between fleet managers, planners, and drivers is essential for building a more informed driver. Within certain cloud-based fleet management platforms, managers have the ability to instantly send group messages to planners and drivers to alert them of important updates, such as poor roads or adverse weather conditions.
The rise of fleet-management technology is underway. Fleets shouldn't wait to adopt essential software and features such as A.I.-powered, optimized route planning, real-time reporting, and driver metrics. Late adopters will be left behind by competitors, in terms of their ability to process and carry more freight, increase customer satisfaction and sales, and improve driver recruitment and retention. Improving the driver experience and utilizing technology that improves productivity and profitability should be focal points of our industry.
Avi Geller is the founder and CEO of Maven Machines, an internet of things platform serving the transportation industry.