The changing transportation dynamic in the supply chain and how mobile tech can help
The increase in consumer online purchasing is only one of the factors pushing logistics organizations or companies to improve their performance while maintaining profitability. Based on a recent survey performed by a transportation and logistics software provider, operators are facing challenges on several fronts.
Moving goods through the supply chain has become a centerpiece of commerce because manufacturers and retailers maintain low inventories and rely on transportation providers to deliver orders on schedule. At the same time, the costs of maintaining and modernizing truck fleets, drivers, and the technology infrastructure that coordinates the processes puts pressure on profitability to the point that 74 percent of the survey's respondents identified 'reduce overall transportation costs' as their top priority for 2017.
The lack of drivers is also getting in the way of transportation providers achieving their overall goals, partly because as drivers retire, younger drivers are harder to find due to their different expectations of their employers, the job and the equipment they use.
Young drivers are accustomed to using mobile technology in their personal lives and assume the same for their work day, expecting to use modern mobile applications and tools to communicate, navigate, plan, and perform their jobs. They are also comfortable with adoption of enterprise-wide fleet and workforce tracking and management systems that are accessed and utilized via wireless tablet computers in place of manual paper-based work orders, logs, record keeping and reporting.
Seemingly, transport companies understand the benefits of moving to advanced mobile enterprise transportation management systems as part of their overall drive to reduce costs and bring new drivers onto the road. More than one-third of the survey respondents pointed to improved route planning accuracy as a goal for 2017 and 22 percent said improved management information and reporting was their next target.
Road-ready and tested for the long haul
Achieving the priorities identified requires integration with an enterprise, purpose-built mobile computing solution. Trucks and transportation work environments are noted for the rough conditions and the unfavorable cellular connectivity settings they encounter every day. The laptop and tablet computers they rely on need to be able to perform under long haul conditions and deliver the state of the art technology both the applications and new, younger workers require.
Here's a list of mobile tablet or laptop features recommended for transportation and trucking fleets to help ensure the devices survive the open road test and support their business priorities:
- Daylight viewable screens that can be seen comfortably even in bright sunlight
- Touchscreen recognition that works smoothly through gloves or in the rain
- Battery life that averages 9 -10 hours or longer and hot-swappable batteries for zero downtime if needed
- Ability to hold up and keep operating in extreme hot or cold temperatures
- Barcode reader for inventory, proof of delivery and other applications
- Vehicle mountable devices for quick and secure integration in trucks or forklifts
- Fully tested to withstand knocks, vibrations, drops, spills of grease, coffee, soda.
In addition to ensuring new mobile device technology can survive the demands "over the long haul" organizations should consider taking advantage of services to help ensure a smooth deployment and efficient ramp up to avoid costly delays or reductions in customer deliveries and productivity. Transportation providers are more likely to achieve their priorities by selecting a mobile technology partner that has consulting engineers and offers services to provide pre-planning consulting through training and vehicle mounting installation support. This will speed up deployment, get the technology into workers' hands sooner, and perhaps most importantly free up internal IT resources to stay focused on even more strategic work such as legacy infrastructure upgrades.
For more information, go to Panasonic Transportation & Logistics Solutions.