With its far-reaching influence on pretty much every part of the supply chain, it’s no surprise that the trucking industry is sensitive to belt-tightening. From fluctuating fuel prices to increased competition, any additional financial strain from a tough economic landscape can leave many businesses concerned about their profitability. Achieving and maintaining success in a wavering economy often involves finding innovative solutions that allow you to cut unneeded spending in many areas of your business.
While it may seem counter-intuitive at first, one of the best ways to cut your daily costs is to invest in the industry’s latest technology. From GPS to TMS, these tools are designed specifically for trucking and can improve your daily efficiency. Work can get completed faster, with fewer user errors, all while giving you important data to help make better decisions for your business. In an industry where time is measured in money, modern technology is the best way to “future proof” your business and help boost your profitability in lean times.
Let’s take a look at a few ways that tech tools can help your trucking company stay afloat during uncertain economic times.
GPS and Mileage
While paper maps may long be a thing of the past, many trucking companies may not be taking full advantage of the GPS tools available to truckers. It may be tempting to use a basic routing app on your smartphone, but there are some drawbacks to using technology that hasn’t been designed with trucking in mind. The biggest issue being that the routes suggested by your basic mapping app may not be suitable for large trucks. This may seem like a minor problem until your driver finds him or herself stranded on a muddy unpaved side road, waiting for dispatch to send out a specialty tow truck to help get them back on the right road. These ill-advised detours take up precious time and can quickly eat away at the amount of money you’ can earn for that shipment.
Specialized GPS software, designed for and catering to the trucking industry, will construct a better route that takes the driver on reliable roads that have been guaranteed to be appropriate for the size of their vehicle. You can also specify that the route avoids tolls and further optimize the route so that you get the best dollar per mile for that shipment. These small benefits add up to big savings.
Another reason to deter your drivers from using basic routing apps is to limit the number of wage disputes you may encounter when drivers are paid per mile. By getting everyone on the same page about GPS and mapping tools, you're providing much-needed transparency that helps drivers understand why the mapping apps on their phone may not provide the same mileage calculations as the software used to calculate the original route. The more clear things are before a trip starts, the less time, energy, and money is spent discussing trip miles later on.
Telematics devices are becoming standard for many fleets, especially with most jurisdictions adopting ELD mandates. While acquiring, installing, and training drivers and support staff on how to use telematics devices and software may seem like an extra headache, the benefits can be huge.
Any device that provides workflow, which automatically completes stops on a trip when a truck carrying the device breaches a pre-defined geofence, can help you improve your tracking and tracing, meaning that dispatch spends less time trying to figure out where a load is. Workflow can also be integrated with your transportation management software so that you can keep track of the status of multiple trips at once, while using the information collected by these devices to help keep the other parts of your business humming like a well-oiled machine.
Electronic logging devices (ELDs) can elicit mixed responses depending on who you are talking to, but at the end of the day these devices keep your drivers safe and allows you to keep an eye on any habits that may be costing you money. Some ELD can provide data on when a driver performs a hard brake, which can result in wear and tear on your equipment that may require premature repair and even replacement. ELDs with cabin-facing cameras can also help you understand when your driver may not be paying the most attention to the road, which can open opportunities to discuss better driving habits that can improve your fleet’s overall fuel efficiency.
Telematics devices also keep track of driver’s hours, which makes payroll less stressful for drivers and your support teams. Efficient payroll practices means that less money is being thrown into the void.
Smartphones are becoming an essential part of a driver’s day-to-day life, and for good reason. The wide variety of apps that can be installed on mobile devices means that drivers can be more productive during work hours, and relax more effectively during their down-time.
Many driver-focused apps exist, and while some of them maybe free there are some apps that cost money to acquire. Whether you adopt one as a requirement for your business operations depends on a number of factors:
1. Ease of onboarding new drivers
You spend enough time trying to set your drivers up for success. If it’s hard to get them started using an app, that’s time that’s being wasted and money that could be better spent elsewhere
2. Simple for day-to-day use
Any app that you invest in should integrate seamlessly with a driver’s workday. It shouldn’t be overly complicated or inconvenient to use
3. Replaces inefficient processes
Identify your pain points – if using an app can solve a problem, that’s money well spent
There are plenty of niche apps, but you should consider adding apps that provide many services in one. The best example of this is an app designed to be used with your TMS. Connecting your drivers and dispatch effectively can have huge cost savings in efficiency alone, not to mention boosting your driver retention rates.