Fleet automation allows carriers to thrive despite workforce shortages
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, supply chain inefficiencies and bottlenecks have been undeniably exposed, so much so that the White House made a recent commitment to actions that would “move more goods faster, and strengthen the resiliency of our supply chains, by moving towards 24/7 operations at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.”
These two ports are the point of entry for 40% of containers entering the U.S. and recent counts of idling ships off the coast of California have reached as high as 73. While port congestion slows shipping between Asia and the U.S., labor shortages in warehouses and transportation further stall the movement of goods.
Consumer demand for goods is outpacing the supply of available trailer capacity and drivers. Transportation companies that want to invest in more technology to increase trailer visibility and utilization are actively seeking ways to automate their fleet and streamline administrative tasks.
According to Gartner in its 2021-2023 Emerging Technology Roadmap, IT talent is also scarce, which is stalling the deployment of emerging technologies. According to this survey of IT executives, the lack of IT talent was a more common obstacle for companies than the costs to implement technology or the risk of data security. But the irony is that some advanced technologies, once implemented, remove a company’s reliance on a traditional IT department. Automation is one of those technologies that bolsters productivity without adding more employees, particularly for companies with fleets. Fleet automation will allow fleets to do more work with fewer resources and a smaller staff.
There’s a common fear that new technologies will be so advanced that regular people won’t be able to use them. “But consider how predictive text operates when typing an email or a text,” said John Mitzel, senior director of marketing at FleetUp, a California-based fleet management solutions company founded in 2013. “That’s machine learning. It’s not just powerful; it’s intuitive. It just makes doing a task easier, reducing the mundane work that people resist doing anyway.”
Fleet automation integrates telematics and Internet of Things devices into truck cabs, trailers, shipping containers, chassis and pallets. The technology uses artificial intelligence to collect data, then suggests the next best action to take. Over time, approved suggestions become automatic, taking work off of fleet managers’ desks. “Automating your fleet with AI-enabled devices allows fleet management to spend less time monitoring drivers,” said Mitzel.
By placing all assets on the same platform, fleet managers no longer have to manually track asset location, driver hours of service status, or engine condition. It’s all on a single screen. As soon as intervention is necessary, the platform alerts the team with helpful strategies to address the issue, truly maximizing the time and energy of full-time employees.
FleetUp’s plug-and-play devices make telematics software installation easy for fleets. Because the software is stored in the cloud, drivers and managers can sign in on any device, without the worry of losing data.
Businesses that add automation to their fleets will not only reduce their reliance on IT, they will be able to work more efficiently and gain a competitive edge. “With the workforce shortage, more automation will benefit your bottom line and help management do more work with a leaner operation,” added Mitzel. “Automation impacts operations from top to bottom, from your office staff to your drivers on the road.”