Technologies to Tackle the Driver Shortage

When you consider that the average age of a trucker is 56, you realize it’s high time to up efforts to recruit and retain younger drivers to address the driver shortage and ensure a future for this profession.

So how do we find younger, mechanically-savvy recruits? What would make millennials want to drive a truck for a living? The answer to the driver shortage is to hit young age groups where they live – which is online or on their phones. The bait on the hook would be technology, with the use of mobile and virtual reality front and center.

After all, when was the last time you were out and about where you couldn’t see at least one person on their smartphone?

Going Mobile

Mobile technology makes great sense as a recruiting tool from the shipping industry side as it’s used for so many aspects of transportation management and logistics be it fleet and order tracking, route optimization, or backhaul opportunity matching. All apply to the legions of individual truckers, where mobile can be a lifeline.

Truck owner/operators have a growing field of mobile tech options for making the best use and the most money at the least cost. Just look at Trucker Tools, which offers a single smartphone app to handle all the function previously only affordable by large corporations with sizable fleets of trucks. And it’s free.

The long list of things truckers can do with the Trucker Tools smartphone app is: find the nearest truck stop, get real-time diesel prices, and find the fastest truck route to your destination and more. The app’s Load Track feature enable truckers to receive automated pickup and delivery confirmations. Other features help drivers find medical aid, vehicle sales and service locations, collision repair joints and even Walmarts.

This is what one of their trucker users – Mike Huber – said of the mobile phone app: “It’s a great idea. It’s super easy to use, with a down-to-earth approach.”

Virtual Reality

Now what if you took one of the hottest consumer technologies out there – virtual reality (VR) technology – and match it with the young age groups that were first to embrace it for gaming – but use it for training and education? It adds a whole new dimension and fun to book learning.

I’m certainly not the first to think of this, but it’s clearly being acted on.

Think of the potential for success here. Beyond enhancing online gaming, VR has captured the collective imagination of sports businesses, marketers, the tourism industry and more. Pro QBs use VR systems (a headset, smartphone and app) to get speed their training by getting extra reps without even touching a football field.

Trucker wannabes could be presented with a 3D scenario in which he or she is graded based on decisions. Do-over are quick and fun, when you don’t have to stay after, or re-study to re-take a test. VR has already been used along with gaming for training in the military.

Young age groups have grown up with VR for gaming, likely logging more hours online than some truckers spend on the road! This is why VR could be a great tool in the larger process of attracting and creating truckers using the tech that’s part of their lives.

The Road Ahead

It’s clear as day that technology is the key to addressing the driver shortage.  Mobile and VR play starring roles in intensifying efforts to recruit drivers from young age groups.  These are by no means the only ways to meet the challenge. So, stay tuned; we’ll be hitting this issue again.

Technology is bringing new visibility and efficiencies across the supply chain as well. Try Kuebix Free LTL Freight Rate Calculator or take a minute and learn more about Kuebix TMS

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Irma, Harvey, a TMS and You

With Hurricane Irma ready to deliver the back half of a devastating one-two punch to the south in the days ahead, you’re freight intelligence will once again put your TMS to the test. For those whose operations weren’t effected by Hurricane Harvey, let’s review what we learned or re-learned.

State of Emergency. Whether it’s MASH episodes, war movies or your favorite emergency rescue show, priority one is to stop the bleeding. That means deleting zip codes that either the feds or the state’s emergency management agency have closed to deliveries (and pickups).

Supply Chain Revamp. After you learn what supplies are needed in the area affected by the act-of-God event, you need to do a bit of reengineering with your supply chain to locate the sorely needed freight and plan with your carriers how to get it on its way to help power the recovery effort.

Reworking your freight shipping to accommodate the impact of natural disasters is no walk in the park, but it’s a shorter one when you consider a robust TMS and its one-source for talking to all your carriers and viewing changes in real-time and acting accordingly.

No Manual? That’s opposed to the plight of shippers who still rely on manual processes that include visiting numerous websites for critical information over and over, sending emails, power dialing and faxing that waste time when you’re trying the hardest to be quick and flexible.

Real-time communications. As the recovery evolves, freight shippers can really use truck and freight tracking functionality to flexible manage their assets – that’s a fancy way of saying know where your trucks are and be aware of their every move.

Go Mobile. This is where mobile technology shines. In dark times, you can reach drivers and they can reach you using nothing more than a smartphone and a simply app download. Yeah, there’s an app for that and it can be part of your TMS.

Multi-modal. Cover all delivery options. We saw – and still see – with Hurricane, Harvey in Houston that in worst case scenarios even delivery beyond trucks wasn’t initially an option. You probably saw the ad-hoc navy of folks with boats hitting the water to deliver emergency aid to the hardest hit areas.

With this in mind, it’s best to have shipping options which means the ability to cover all modes of freight delivery – ground, air and ship – in a single system.  Many complex problems can be solved simply by using multi-modal freight shipping.

Post Event Assessment. Once things return to fairly normal, the freight shipper still faces a big challenge: figuring out the price tag for surviving the latest act of God. A well-equipped TMS can help you figure out the costs associated with reacting to a disaster.

Justify spends. While a strong TMS can help you better deal with acts of God and man-made disasters, you’ll find that adding muscle often means going beyond a base system to include integrations, special apps and even managed services. Though this requires new spending for those who aren’t bulked up to tackle tragedies, look at the costs you incurred in dealing with the very latest act of God.

Cost avoidance itself can help you justify additions and improvements to your TMS.

The Road Ahead for TMS

We’ve all heard the saying “proper preparation prevents poor performance.”  That’s all well and good but freight shippers and carriers with years in the business know planning for the unplanned is far easier said than done.

But a robust TMS will be able to lighten the load.

 

Try our LTL Freight Rate Calculator. Interested in learning more about Kuebix TMS today?

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Freight Intelligence: Learning from the Mayweather-McGregor Mess

I wonder what those with freight intelligence were thinking if they were among those who were able to watch the live stream of the Mayweather-McGregor fight.

Fans usually aren’t still arguing about who got hit the hardest several days after a title fight. That’s unless of course the fighters weren’t the ones that took the hardest shots the night of the pay-per-view match between UFC Star Connor McGregor and undefeated boxer Floyd Money Mayweather.

Fans in record numbers showed Showtime the money for the heavily anticipated fight but because of technical difficulties with the Internet streaming version of the PPV TV contest, many didn’t get their money’s worth. One company had claimed it had all aspects of the production handled in advance.

What actually happened? Paying fans missed some rounds of the fight, only to be directed to customer service numbers (on a Saturday night no less) or to streaming sites to watch the event illegally. On Monday, Showtime claimed it would issues refunds. Later that day, the company was sued for poor quality streams. Can it get any worse?

A Teachable Moment for Shipping

Only if you don’t use this mess as a teachable moment, which it most certainly is for all parts of the shipping world.
So, what did we in the freight intelligence business learn – or re-learn – from the Mayweather-McGregor mess?

  • With shipping, you have to pick a partner that can scale to meet your needs, up to pre-identified peaks in demand, whether it’s the days before yearend holidays or hours before a boxing match begins streaming live. This wasn’t an act of God.
  • No surprises. Eliminate the element of surprise. Planning for your big event or extended peak period with your carriers. Everyone needs to know what’s coming to avoid unpleasant surprises. There were many weeks of advanced hype before the Mayweather-McGregor fight – and most sports fans knew of it far earlier.
  • Redundancy. Consider splitting freight across multiple carriers and multiple routes. You do this to have a much better chance of surviving a big problem if one of your options fails and you still have a customer awaiting a big delivery for a big event, promo, etc. Carrier and route diversity give you a better chance.
  • Plan for spikes whether you expect them or not. I bet 60% of fans waited til the hours leading up to the fight to order it. That shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone given the high profile of the long-hyped fight.
  • Customer service. You need partners in the roughest situations, carriers that will be there with you in tough times and do everything in their power to help you in your time of need. You don’t want anyone that doesn’t answer their customer service line or that pushes you off to someone else. The very last thing you need when the going gets tough is for your partners to get invisible.
  • Live and learn with TMS data and analytics. How did things run, or not run, the last time you experienced a similar peak? Can you adapt accordingly? Listen to what the data tells you. Re-read the reports we provide.
  • Use TMS features and flexibility. When the shipping begins, use real-time shipment tracking to help you spot the beginning of a problem or problems. If you spot the beginning of what could be a peak, you can use the flexibility of your TMS and carriers to route around problems.

Get Freight Intelligence

Failure to plan for peaks results in messes like the Mayweather-McGregor situation that were largely avoidable. Trust me here because I boxed when I was younger. Nothing hits harder than a company that’s knocked out by a peak demand fail. Not Mayweather, not McGregor, not even Ali.

Don’t get hit with peak shipping problems. Get freight intelligence instead.

Try our free Freight Rate Calculator!

APIs Rising: Understanding the Newest Integration Technology

I don’t think anyone would disagree with me when I say the shipping ecosystem owes a huge debt of gratitude to EDI. Many decades after companies in numerous industries implemented it to enable electronic communications and change the way they did business, EDI is still alive and well.

But as APIs have ascended, I’ve seen them grow in popularity as the preferred means to integrate shippers and carriers. Why? The EDI approach positions middleware and transaction processing as a sort of middleman. That can take time and create inefficiencies in the supply chain.

In the shipping world, this has given rise to wider use of application programming interfaces (API) which allow tighter integration of shippers with carriers.

APIs allow for rapid onboarding of customers and their negotiated carrier rates into the Kuebix TMS. This can be done in the time it takes to book a flight online.

When it comes to connecting to ship, APIs eliminate the middleman, and create a direct connect that delivers critical information – such as tracking info on shipments – to both parties in the transaction. Better still, APIs are the easiest way to integrate functionality into transportation management systems (TMS).

Enter Integrations

Here’s where the payoff comes. TMS vendors such as Kuebix, have created a menu of integrations that can be added to the system to support added functionalities. Customers can add purchase order, bill of lading, and shipment status and tracking to streamline these processes.

And just like a diner-friendly restaurant, items not on the standard menu can be created or customized to the specific needs of the customer shipping freight.

TMS vendors can provide standard integrations that they have developed as well as integrations created by third parties, all so you can optimize supply chain management to meet the often-top corporate priority of cutting costs in the supply chain.

Once integrations have been added to a customer’s TMS, the time savings and streamlining can really begin. And it’s the beginning of the end for inefficiencies.

Integrations You Can Count On

Let’s take carrier invoice integration as an example. The shipper receives his or her invoices in the TMS for automatic invoice audit. If an invoice does not match the agreed upon rate for the shipment, the TMS will automatically create a rate exception claim. Sound great? It should, given that you can’t squeeze savings out of a process that you don’t directly control.

How about adding a purchase and sales order integration? Logistics managers can use their TMS to simplify the creation and tracking of true landed cost down to the SKU level and streamline shipping freight.

The hits will just keep coming in the form of additional integrations. Complex EDI, SOAP or REST integrations can be simplified with a standard or customer interface that seamlessly ties into an ERP system. That’s a big part of a supply chain management strategy.

What About EDI?

The rise of API integrations doesn’t mean an end to EDI integrations by any means. But those logistics managers looking to streamline and knock time out of common processes that are essential to their supply chain operations might want to check out the API approach and available integrations.

See how a carrier 210 integration works:

 

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Overwhelmed by Data? Time to Tame the Information Overload and Use it to Your Advantage

If the amount of data flowing into, out of, and within the four walls of your company is out of control, you’re not alone. Organizations of all sizes are experiencing the impact of the Information Age, and even government agencies admit that they’re feeling overwhelmed by data fatigue right now.

The National Security Administration is no exception. The NSA is so overwhelmed with data, it’s no longer effective, says whistleblower, William Binney, a former NSA official who spent more than three decades at the agency, said the U.S. government’s mass surveillance programs have become so engorged with data that they are no longer effective, losing vital intelligence in the fray.

Credit that fact that the world’s data volumes have grown in astronomical leaps over the last few years with creating this level of data fatigue. And as the variety and velocity of data has grown, the usefulness of traditional data warehousing strategies has decreased exponentially.

It Keeps Going and Going and Going…

By 2025, research firm IDC believes the total amount of digital data created by the world will reach 180 zettabytes, up from 4.4 zettabytes in 2013. The astounding growth comes from both the number of devices generating data as well as the number of sensors in each device… approximately 11 billion devices connect to the Internet now. The figure is expected to nearly triple to 30 billion by 2020 and then nearly triple again to 80 billion five years later.

What many companies don’t realize is that with effective management of big data, this type of actionable information—and then using it to make informed transportation and logistics decisions—is readily available.

In fact, after accumulating terabytes of data over the years, most firms already have the foundational information right within their own four walls. The challenge lies in extracting this data, determining which of it is (and isn’t) useful, and then turning that information into actionable insights.

This is where good data management comes into play and allows companies to more efficiently and effectively orchestrate their global supply chains. The good news is that leading organizations have found ways to harness their data in creative, intelligent ways and, in return, have gained competitive advantage. They’re doing it by:

  • Connecting all of their business partners on a single, integrated, cloud-based platform. By connecting all of your business partners, suppliers, customers, and other entities via a single, cloud-based platform that’s accessible 24/7/365, all parties gain extreme efficiencies and improved data management capabilities.
  • Leveraging the data to improve global logistics planning. Look at how incoming data can be used to plan logistics movements (e.g., freight, ordering, carrier relationships, etc.), then consider how the data that’s in your central repository can make your firm more efficient using its current resources. This, in turn, leads to significant transportation and logistics efficiencies.
  • Gaining real-time supply chain visibility by breaking down information silos. By gaining real-time visibility over the information, and then sharing those insights with all stakeholders (e.g., suppliers, customers, carriers, accounting, logistics, warehousing, etc.), companies can effectively break down any traditional information “silos” that might exist within their supply chains.
  • Optimize internal processes using regular audits. Don’t just set it and forget it. Continually ask questions like, “Was there a better way we could have moved this freight?” or “Were there other, more cost-effective modes available?” The answers will help you find better ways to do things in the future.

For companies that want to break out of data fatigue mode and begin leveraging their valuable data, the best first step is to take inventory of current, available data and then decide how that information can be parlayed into actionable business intelligence. Then ask yourself what data—from a strategic perspective—will truly help your company achieve its current and future goals.

Kuebix offers a next generation transportation management system that acts as a central data repository for a company’s entire supply chain. To learn more about how Kuebix can help you better manager your company’s data as discussed in this article, contact us today at sales@kuebix.com