By Alina Aleman

Why does trucking matter?  Scarce labor, higher fuel costs, more traffic, and mandated monitoring of drivers’ time are constricting trucking capacity.  Consumer trends are increasing demand for truckers’ services.  To survive in this perfect storm of economic reality, tech-savvy trucking companies are creating work plans and monitoring activities in real time to control costs and deliver the goods.

Growing economy and growing population mean more goods are being transported 

Growing economy and growing population have led to high rates of growth of per capita products, which is directly linked to the rising rate of productivity.  The demand for products is increasing, more goods are being transported.

Transportation is a key factor for economic growth since it adds speed and efficiency to a country’s progress.  It provides market accessibility by linking producers and consumers so that transactions can take place.

Transportation is part of our everyday activities and unquestionably, of the everyday economy.  Thus, relatively small changes in transport cost, capacity and performance can have significant impacts on dependent economic activities.  The good news is that an efficient transport system favors positive economic and environmental change.


As people shift their buying habits, more focus shifts to package and parcel delivery

No matter where you are, if you have a mobile device, you can easily shop and buy online. As online shopping and e-commerce have taken off, a worldwide shipping demand has been powered, and along with it, a need for oversight over the entire system.  This trend isn’t likely to slow down and people are increasingly relying on trucks and delivery networks.

Why get your goods by yourself when you can get them shipped right in front of your door for free?  That’s right, customer preferences have changed.  We expect to get shipments faster and at a lower price.  Many want more flexible delivery – whether in terms of when or where they get their goods – and most expect shipping to be free.  There’s a low acceptance of dynamic pricing for parcels; customers expect to pay the same price for shipping regardless of seasonal capacity limitations faced by their shipper.  These aspects have a huge implication for transportation and logistics.


Hours of Service plus mandated electronic monitoring

Labor is a meaningful component of any logistics operating model, and until now there’s always been a trade-off between service levels and costs. But automation changes, allowing companies to offer better service as they save money.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires the installation of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) in most interstate commercial vehicles. ELDs are designed to electronically monitor compliance with Hours of Service (HOS) rules by commercial drivers[1].

Many independent truckers look on the rule as an economic burden. Safety advocates, however, view the rule as long overdue.  In the United States, Hours of Service regulations have been around for 80 years.  Until now, many drivers complied with these regulations with hand-written paper log books.

Onboard electronic monitoring of a trucker’s speed and time spent in motion have been around for quite some time and many trucking companies have voluntarily embraced the technology.  These companies use technology to monitor their fleet, manage drivers’ time, drive safety, and monitor regulatory compliance.  Rockwell International introduced electronic trip recording in 1981, with JB Hunt as the first customer.  Electronic logging has been allowed since 1988.  This technology is not new, but it’s newly mandated.

With the Hours of Service regulations, drivers are allowed to work 13.5 hours and drive 11 hours within a 14-hour period.  Thus, drivers feel great pressure to meet delivery deadlines, especially when the cargo is perishable or time sensitive.  Drivers report that they feel forced to speed or to push on, even when they are drowsy, to meet the contracted delivery schedules.

Through the use of GPS and engine monitoring systems, trucking companies can monitor whether or not their drivers are obeying speed limits and complying with HOS rules. Another benefit is that trucking companies who use the technology can better determine exactly how long a particular delivery takes and adjusts their pricing and contractual delivery time more accurately.


The result – efficiency and effective planning are more important than ever in transportation

Customers are going digital and logistics industry needs to keep up.  The result, efficiency and effective planning are more important than ever in transportation to fulfill the demands and growing expectations of the customers that have evolved with the rapid expansion of e-commerce.

To improve the efficiency of the operations, guarantee customer satisfaction, and increase productivity, which is what an effective logistics management seeks, a smart decision would be to adopt effective technology.  Even though it represents a challenge, it is also a great opportunity for any trucking business to start optimizing and strengthen their business.

According to LoadTrek’s Will Roddy; “Just because a company is forced to adopt ELDs, does not mean they are planning and optimizing their work.  ELDs only monitor compliance.  It takes a real transportation management system to devise a good plan.  If you have to implement an ELD, why not look at complimentary technology that can benefit your business”.

Through a comprehensive overview and careful analysis of the supply chain, strategic logistics management can be very useful.   It can help to give answers to the massive push by customers for a faster service and lower shipping costs meaning that you can ensure that the correct goods will travel to customers in the most efficient way possible.  It all starts with a trucking company creating good route plans.


With proper planning and monitoring, do more with less

With the help of technology, logistics management is able to better serve manufacturers, shippers, and retailers.

Planning and assigning routes accurately and efficiently can be hard for many companies, especially with the FMCSA safety and Hours-of-Service regulations on the table.  Routing requires the load planning staff to be constantly aware of pick-up and delivery times, while also being familiar with driver schedules and available Hours-of-Service.

LoadTrek’s Will Roddy continues, “Fortunately ELDs (and the LoadTrek system specifically) has been designed to help load planners and dispatchers with planning routes and keeping on top of this information.  You create the best plan possible, then monitor this plan in real time.  As long as you are on plan, your drivers are compliant and your customers are happy”.

Implementing an ELD will track Hours-of-Service to maintain compliance, but it also may give companies an edge in monitoring their workforce for Hours-of-Service constrictions when route planning.  With an automated system constantly informing load planners of a driver’s available hours, the juggling of driver schedules, arrival times, and Hours-of-Service is simplified.

Along with the simple benefits that an ELD can provide to routing, implementing a full Transportation Management System (TMS) can bring untold amounts of efficiency to planning drivers and routes.

We asked Joel Beal from LoadTrek to explain how an ELD and TMS can work together.  “LoadTrek TMS includes the technology of an ELD into a cloud-based system that gives dispatchers and load planners a bird’s eye view of all of a company’s routes, drivers, and equipment.  A TMS then takes all of these variables into account and helps dispatchers and load planners plan the most efficient routes while minimizing the risk of errors taking place.”

This system helps companies save a ton of money in costly planning errors where a load could be stranded due to a driver running out of hours.  The fewer errors there are in route planning, the more money a company can both save and make in route error prevention. At the end of the day you save fuel, time, and money.

Beal tells us, “Here at LoadTrek we’ve seen a lot of new interest in a combined TMS and ELD system.  Every mile and every minute is money.  Every wasted mile and minute is opportunity lost.  Trucks end up where they don’t belong, killing utilization.  Drivers run out of hours and are forced to decide between running legally or being out longer than planned.  Wasted miles and time burn more fuel and create more emissions.  We help make every mile and every minute count”.

Companies are realizing that investing in effective logistics technology can result in big rewards.  Technology is changing every aspect of how logistics companies operate. Those who understand how to exploit an entire range of new technologies, will be the leaders.  Those who don’t, risk obsolescence.

[1] Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [FMCSA]. «Interstate Truck Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service.» March 2015. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. September 18, 2018.