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Trucking has been facing a driver shortage problem for quite some time, but workflow software could be part of the solution.
“The driver shortage is a major issue in the industry and probably likely only going to get worse over time as demand for transportation continues to increase,” Maven Machines founder and CEO Avi Geller told Transport Topics. “We put a lot of focus on the driver experience as a whole. One of the main tenants of our approach to our products and our business is optimizing that experience.”
Geller noted the workflow aspect of that involves empowering the drivers and their fleets with better routing and real-time data. That includes estimated arrival times, driver location and geofencing to streamline and simplify the process. The increased efficiency could help mitigate the driver shortage issue by allowing them to do more.
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“All of these factors lead to greater efficiencies,” Geller said. “You’re keeping everything up to date in real time for the most optimal performance as the real-world situations unfold.”
Coyote Logistics and the labor market research firm Emsi released a report March 11 that found there were more than14 million job postings for truck drivers from 2019 to 2020. American Transportation Research Institute, a division of American Trucking Associations, reported in its annual list of top trucking issues in October that carriers ranked the driver shortage issue as their top concern for the fourth consecutive year.
“It’s a complex problem,” Gary Schmidt, senior vice president of connected solutions at fleet management solutions provider Zonar Systems, told TT. “Workflow will layer over an entire fleet, and an organization will actually integrate it into their telematics or their transportation management systems. They can actually use a workflow to make sure that they’ve got trucks available.”
Schmidt added that workflow software gives carriers a snapshot of vehicles and what drivers are capable of taking that load. That could mean knowing which drivers need more hours and can deliver that load within the time frame the carrier committed to.
“That is something that is very important because finding an asset in the area is just one part of the problem,” Schmidt said. “Being able to assess where that cargo needs to go, and if those drivers are even capable of going there, that’s where workflow will help solve a lot of those pain points.”
Geller noted that retention also plays a role in how workflow software can help mitigate the driver shortage issue. When drivers can do their job without many setbacks, that leads to more satisfaction, which increases the chances they will stay with their fleet.
“It’s expensive to hire a driver, so if you can avoid the need to do so that pays dividends,” Geller said. “Increasing driver satisfaction is a huge factor in their willingness to stay at the fleet and just driver retention as a whole. If you can improve the efficiencies for a driver, the methods in which they work, they’re able to be more successful and have a more enjoyable experience along the way.”
Geller added that workflow software also includes tools and visibility for fleets to better access driver performance. He noted this can help them incentivize better performance and give a clearer picture of which drivers may need help.
“There’s different metrics and measurements for different situations and different types of trucking, whether it’s LTL or truckload,” Geller said. “At the end of the day, if instead of doing 20 stops, you’re doing 21 or 22, that’s a 10% improvement.”
Carrier Logistics is a transportation management software provider with a focus on less-than-truckload shipping. The company has seen the same worker shortage issues in that mode. He noted that the key workaround to the problem is minimizing miles per stop.
“So if there’s a driver shortage, which clearly there is, and there are constraints that the trucking companies cannot find enough drivers to satisfy customer demand, they would get more business if only they had more resources,” Carrier President Ben Wiesen told TT. “Then the next question they have to ask themselves is, ‘Can I get more done with the resources that I have?’ ” That’s where they can inject technology into their applications and into the driver’s hands to try and accomplish that.”
Wiesen noted maximizing driver efficiency starts with optimization during the planning phase, then relaying information on how to execute it. That could mean determining which terminal would be best to make a pickup then conveying to dockworkers how they should load a truck to ensure the driver can run an optimized route.
“It is very discouraging to an LTL driver if they have five stops to go and they know that they’re driving by the fourth stop but they can’t get to it because the freight is buried in the nose of their trailer,” Wiesen said. “So if their trailer was just loaded better, they could have been more efficient.”
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