Earlier this year, we took a look at pending regulations affecting the trucking industry. While there have been few new regulations in the past eight months, some existing regulations continue to be a cause of concern for the trucking industry. These requirements also have the ability to impact shippers and third-party logistics (3PL) providers.
In a report published by the industry research organization, American Transportation Research Institute (ATI), truck driver Hours of Service (HOS) rules continue to be a top concern of carriers, followed by ELDs or the requirement that commercial vehicles and drivers with a Commercial Driver’s License must use electronic logging devices (ELDs) rather than keeping paper logs. The units must be in place by December 18, although a phased approach is being planned.
While not directly related, both impact the number one concern by carriers — the driver shortage. A pricing analyst for DAT Solutions stated in the company’s recent North American Freight Index, “Some small percentage of independent drivers are expected to leave the industry rather than comply with the ELD mandate. We think the closer we draw to the start of the ELD mandate, the more impact it will have on capacity.”
As we all know, less capacity can make it more difficult for shippers or 3PLs to ensure delivery requirements to customers are met. With consumer expectations higher than ever in our post-Amazon world, shippers are already pushed to deliver outstanding service while continuously reducing costs- a task made more daunting if drivers and capacity are scarce.
While there are no easy fixes for any of the trucking issues that have the potential of impacting every stakeholder in the supply chain, technology can make operating in this environment more efficient, less costly and ensure fewer headaches for fleet managers, shippers or 3PLs.
A Transportation Management System (TMS) with fleet capabilities can ensure that all data about drivers (such as HOS) and equipment (ELD mandate) is current and that the company and the carriers it selects are in compliance. Carrier management functionality as a part of a TMS also helps companies develop relationships with carriers that have solid safety records. And, proactive notification functionality can help managers address issues before they become critical.
For example, if a carrier has experienced a number of accidents or a piece of equipment is due for repair, advanced fleet management software notifies the shipper or fleet manager before the carrier has been placed out of service or the company unit is parked in Nowhere, USA needing a repair, either of which could lead to a service failure.
Carrier management also can be helpful when and if capacity tightens in the market. Some TMS solutions offer shippers or fleet managers access to market-driven sourcing and spot buying. In addition to private and public bid boards, some TMS solutions include tools to identify carriers and lane history, while also finding carriers for backhauls.
For companies that have a private fleet and also use carriers, advanced fleet technology can help you determine if you need outside capacity or if a particular shipment is more cost-effective to move on your own assets, rather than a carrier’s.
This is just one of the ways you can use TMS to gain fleet optimization. An advanced system can help you do away with spreadsheets or disparate systems that do not connect with each other, delivering immediate gains in efficiency. You can eliminate redundancy, gain faster access to information and optimize the entire supply chain to achieve high levels of service while still reducing overall transportation costs. And, best of all, you can ensure that you and your company stay outside the “penalty box” as trucking regulations continue to change.