In a previous post we looked at how shifting transportation technologies might bring the sharing economy—popular businesses like Uber and AirBnB being the best examples—to the trucking industry.
Very specifically, what we talked about was using technology to solve the truck capacity issue—making it easier for unused space on trailers to be filled by using data in a mobile-based freight brokering system to match up shippers with the best-available fleet or driver.
This idea of buying unused trailer space is far from new, but adding this technology layer to the freight brokering process eliminates a lot of inefficiencies. A truck with remaining capacity, for example, can pick up a second load to run as efficiently and productively as possible. Even better, drivers can receive payment more promptly and a feedback mechanism allows customers to rate carriers, continually improving the system for increased customer satisfaction.
Understanding the value proposition
This is just one example of how technology is changing the logistics game. Companies are beginning to realize that big data and analytics can give them a real operational advantage over their competition. They are adopting systems and solutions that support more modernized freight networks. Soon technology could touch every part of the truck, from the driver to the drivetrain.
We only say "could" because it’s going to take every stakeholder in the industry to get on board with this technological evolution for it to really take hold. To show you what we mean, let’s stick with our initial example of a mobile-based freight brokering system. There is value in that for everyone from OEMs to the brokers themselves, but they have to realize those benefits for this kind of technology to take off.
We’ve already seen Volvo trucks investing in this market. That, in and of itself is a very significant step for this technology and service solution.
So, what does Volvo stand to gain?
For starters, brand differentiation. Volvo, and other OEMs for that matter, can position themselves in the market as complete end-to-end service providers. The investment also creates new revenue streams for these truck OEMs.
Professional truck drivers
The benefits to drivers are tremendous. Reduced empty miles means increased productivity—and earnings. And, for smaller fleets, they can fly and load.
In the end, a driver’s work environment will be less stressful, and they’ll achieve a greater sense of well-being and enjoy more time at home.
The shared economy helps reduce expenses, improve asset utilization, and increase truck and driver productivity—improving a fleet’s total cost of operation.
That means a more stable, profitable business.
Brokers will find their work processes will become far more efficient, allowing them to improve relationships with both shippers and carriers.
In the end, the process will become much faster, reducing the back-and-forth of phone calls and faxed paperwork through automation.
Embracing technology will be critical to fleet survival
Adoption of new business technologies is never easy. Even when the stakeholders see the value, you are asking them to break old habits, to adapt or change the way that they’ve always done things. Even when technology can automate those mind-numbing or time-consuming tasks, there’s no guarantee that employees will change.
But for companies to survive, they need to embrace these new technologies. With the advantages that data and technology integrations can provide, it’s going to be impossible for the less technologically enabled fleets to stay in business.
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