Marc Andreessen, the serial tech entrepreneur and founder of Netscape, says, “software is swallowing the world.” Our ability to navigate our day is predicated on how effectively we use all the screens around us. Each new website, tech company or app automates some sort of process or procedure that previously relied on manual labor or pen and paper. What used to take days can now be done in minutes from anywhere in the world.
Software is increasingly prevalent in the transportation industry. Gone are the days of hand written BOLs and fax machines; they have been replaced with full-service transportation management systems (TMS) that generate digital bills that instantly pop up on a driver’s smartphone. In this series, we highlight six more areas where the proper use of technology improves operating performance and profitability.
Part 2: Track & Trace
Covering loads is easy compared to tracking shipments. This is so tedious because information is incomplete, processes are convoluted, and data is rarely timely. The broken process usually looks like this:
- Customer asks for update,
- Customer service rep (CSR) calls carrier’s dispatch,
- Dispatch puts CSR on hold and calls carrier to get whereabouts,
- Dispatcher gives CSR current update,
- CSR updates system and/or provides info to customer rep,
- Customer rep calls or e-mails customer with current tracking update.
This represents a lot of effort and cost, and by the time the customer gets the data, it’s no longer current.
Automation is available through a variety of different global positioning systems (GPS), the most prevalent being geofencing. This is the use of GPS or radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to create a virtual geographic boundary, enabling software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves that particular area. When a driver enters a designated “fenced” area, his or her phone sends an alert directly to the carrier and, if desired, its customers.
Not surprisingly, this technology saves carriers employee time and reduces operating expenses, mitigates customer stress and uncertainty, and increases time spent on revenue generation.
Once you’ve automated track and trace:
Do: Ensure that a technical team is in place. While technology has great benefits, it can also break. Issues can be addressed and resolved quickly when the team understands the systems.
Don’t: Don’t let exception management fall through the cracks; automation alone doesn’t fix transit issues that require the knowledge and savvy of a freight professional.