What does the digital transformation of the trucking industry mean? Simply put, it’s a computerized method of managing logistics in which technology optimizes the management and performance of assets and loads, navigating away from the days when drivers get their route information off a chalkboard without an optimized delivery plan.
Trucking has long been viewed as a singular, manual, labor-intensive process of picking up and delivering packages or items, to either businesses or residential areas. This method is being replaced with various logistics processes, such as: capacity-as-a-service, crowdsourced delivery, truck platooning, optimized predictive maintenance, driver/truck/road specific routing, and more.
Carriers need to generate actionable insights for strategic decision making, operations transformation, and targeted customer experiences. This is all much easier with a digital transformation under your belt. Intelligent automation is changing how companies operate by using advances in technology to optimize processes, personalize customer experiences, and enhance decision making. It could also include back-end office applications such as automatic payment solutions that can lower administrative costs.
How digital transformation can help your trucking business
Below are some areas where digital and automated solutions could add value to your business:
- Accounting, planning and dispatching
- Driver and customer communication
- Storage and retrieval of files and documentation
- Fleet management, fuel efficiency and asset management
- Load matching
- Highway access and tolling
- Fueling and related services
- Services for trailer handling and management
- Calendar and booking services for maintenance
- Load scheduling
- Vehicle inspection
- Driver health and safety
Identify priority business areas – where can you improve?
It’s essential for you to identify some key areas where you would like to use technology.
Prioritizing these problematic and/or highly manual areas will help make the process more manageable and allow you to make sure that you are starting at the best possible area for your business.
Are you using route optimization software? Does it use “as-the-crow-flies” or street level optimization? Ensuring small details like this are working for you at the final mile can save your company a great amount of money and enable your drivers to deliver more packages in a shorter time.
Below are other questions you can ask yourself to determine the right course of action:
- What areas of your business do you need to save money on?
- What parts of your business could significantly benefit from digital and automated processes?
- Are there any early ‘easy wins’ you can identify? Planning, booking and invoicing processes are some of the easier business processes that can be automated. How about support functions like HR? Could, for instance, the onboarding process be digitized? What are your competitors doing to automate their business? Are there any new entrants to the industry that could significantly change the playing field?
- What kind of digital competencies do you have? What kind of benefits and work environment would you need to provide to attract digital talent?
- Should you build all your digital competencies in-house or are there others you could partner up with to find synergies between their digital know-how and your assets and experience?
Questions to answer before starting your digital transformation in trucking
Identify the reasons that may have prevented your business from implementing technological solutions in the past. Previous issues may have been the cost, lack of time, or lack of knowledge. By understanding what these barriers have been historically, you can ensure that good research is done and your team chooses the proper technology to present to management.
- How will digital transformation add value?
- In order to know which solutions add the most value, you need to know what your costs are.
- What are the areas of your business that you need to save money on?
- Which areas of your business do you need to improve?
- Are there any early ‘easy wins’ you can identify?
- What are the roadblocks?
There are likely to be digital solutions for every area of your fleet management so answering these questions will help you to identify the key areas that will make the biggest difference to your business.
What insights can your original equipment manufacturer (OEM) provide you with?
Having identified the areas where digital transformation might have the biggest impact, contact your truck dealership and ask what technological solutions and data insights they can provide you with.
Your fleet of trucks is likely to be already collecting data and most manufacturers now have data solutions that could include:
- Maps - including real-time vehicle positions, route planning and geo-fencing based on truck attributes.
- Assets - including alerts, warnings and notifications.
- Reports - including fuel efficiency, performance, environmental and safety.
- Driver activity - including driving times and how the driver handles the vehicle.
- Calendar - including details of next planned service according to service and maintenance schedule.
- Workshop history - including a repair history Overview.
Questions to ask when speaking to your OEM
There is no need to have a large knowledge of IT or have an IT programmer to choose the best platform for your business. After finding out what insights your OEM can supply you with, the key questions you need to ask are:
- How can your OEM support your operations and business needs?
- How do you provide the data?
- Do they provide connected services that you can understand and make decisions on?
- How easy is the integration to other existing platforms and processes?
Once you have access to more insights through services using different data, it’s easy to see where further improvements can be made. Manufacturers have coaches who are experts at looking at the data and provide you with useful insights about your assets and their performance.
It’s also worth asking your customers/ shippers if they have technological solutions that you can use. They are likely to want to have the same information as you about how and in what condition shipments are delivered and what efficiency improvements can be made.
Consult a team of experts on digital transformation in the trucking industry
The best place to start a digital transformation is always to put a plan in place based on your company’s plans for growth. Integratz has a team of logistics experts that can help you get started on your digital transformation journey. They can help you assess your business and get a roadmap in place in no time – schedule a free 30-minute consultation and ensure your company’s place in the trucking industry’s highly efficient and automated future today.