Fleet Owner: Improving truck driver work life via technology

By Sean Kilcarr

Reducing paperwork hassle plus re-routing faster and more efficiently all while staying in better contact with family are just some of the reasons in-cab technology providers expect demand for their services will grow significantly in the near-term – especially if they can deliver cost savings in the bargain as well to fleets.

“Giving truck drivers the ability to work with the technology that they use and are used to seeing in their everyday life while on the job shows an investment in the individual to help them perform their role, significantly reduces the learning curve associated with adopting new technology as drivers can build on what they already have, and shows an awareness of what technology can do to help move the [trucking] business forward,” Pol Sweeney, chief technology officer for Airclic, told Fleet Owner.

“A driver will also be a lot more receptive to tracking orders, signature captures, reconciliations of returns, etc., on a mobile device than maintaining a paper manifest—a practice that today’s tech-savvy workforce will not have the patience for,” he added.

In an interview, Sweeney pointed out that, currently, only about 17% of the driver population is under 35 and that Airclic believes one possible way to entice younger drivers to join – and stay – in the trucking industry is to arm them with the same handheld experience that they have in their personal lives.

“Younger drivers want to be able to use their mobile device to access the information and data that they need to be armed with as they go about their day; they don’t expect to read information off of and maintain a paper manifest,” Sweeney said. “That’s why the ‘consumerization of technology’ is catching up with trucking.”

Equipping the driver with such technology also helps ensure higher levels of customer service, Sweeney argued, as drivers are responsible for proactively communicating with customers when delivery windows are not going to be met.

“Drivers are also responsible for following workflows specific to the customers’ customer,” he said. “Given the high volume of driver turnover, using technology can ensure that proper instructions are documented and followed, no matter the driver.”

Yet there’s also a potentially significant cost savings opportunity for fleets by moving to a more “paperless” work environment as we well, Sweeney pointed out.

“The elimination of paper and manual processes from the supply chain lend themselves to significant savings opportunities, with companies citing their ROI [return on investment] achievement through improved order accuracy, reduced costs related to paper and paper processing and an improved revenue flow through ‘clean’ invoicing,” he explained.

On average, Airclic said its customers see an average savings of $400 per truck per month or $18.50 per truck per day as a result of eliminating paper and paper processing costs:

  • $9 per day per truck from removing inefficient paper-based process
  • $4.50 per day per truck from overages, shortages and damages (OS&D} reductions
  • $5 per day per truck from lower customer service costs
  • A reduction in days sales outstanding (DSO) from eight to one increases revenue flow

Sweeney pointed to the experience related by the chief information officer (CIO) for a privately owned food distributor in California, who estimated a savings of $45,000 a year simply from abandoning the standard practice of printing multi-part forms.

“He further estimates savings of $117,000 annually from avoiding as many as 30 missed deliveries a week—a 30% improvement with scanning, given that the cost of a missed delivery is about $75, factoring in the need to credit the customer and re-order the product, pick it again and redeliver it,” Sweeney said.