Ask veteran drivers for the good old‘ days in trucking and they‘I’ll tell you stories of friends they’ve worked with, loads they’ve hauled, trucks they’ve driven, and coming home for a vacation or a weekend breeze.
You know what you won‘not heard of? Queuing for a phone booth. Hips and knees sore from shifting gears. Paper service logs and shipping documents. Jockey for a parking space. Incessant messages from dispatchers or freight brokers asking where they are and when they‘I will arrive. Being routed to places they don’t like to go.
Mobile connectivity and digital workflows have changed the engine‘s day at work for the better. Artificial intelligence and machine learning promise to automate all sorts of tedious tasks and align work with the driver’s personal preferences.
Here are four ways technology has changed the daily work of drivers, and one big development that shows why better days may be ahead.
Nope trucker likes to handle paperwork, especially in the cab. It’s hard to stay organized and adds the task of “courier” to the unspoken and ever-expanding job description of the truck driver.
Electronic bills of lading (eBOL) and other digital documents make exchanging documents with carriers, brokers, shippers, consignees and other parties faster, more accurate and more secure. No one expects a driver to return to the terminal days or weeks later with proof of delivery, bills of lading, transport receipts and other documents essential to carriers producing an invoice with all the appropriate supporting documents.
Best of all, no one has to try to decipher the handwriting. With the right hardware and software, companies can electronically receive, scan, sign and catalog shipping documents. This reduces the risk of errors and additional phone calls. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology can check different types of travel documents, extract data and match shipment details with documentation.
The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate requires most truck fleets and truck drivers to use a device that automatically logs a driver‘s rest and on-call hours and communicates this information electronically. The elimination of paper logbooks fundamentally changed drivers’ schedules, the distances they could travel and, for many, the ability to manage their own biological clocks.
The ELD rule has also been a driving factor in the adoption of telematics among commercial fleets. With GPS, cellular networks, and cloud computing, ELDs can reduce the need for control calls and generate automated exception alerts. ELDs also allow drivers and carriers to share location data, ETAs and driving time availability, creating a level of visibility that shippers and receivers can use to prepare for the arrival of trucks and cargo. drivers.
One app to rule them all
Nearly 90% of truck drivers use smartphones daily for work, mainly for browsing, phone calls and texting. Carriers have mobile apps to help their drivers manage documents, hours of service and other activities, and there’s no shortage of third-party apps for loads, weather, truck stop loyalty programs, locators weighbridges, etc.
Just because “the‘“It’s an app for that” doesn’t mean it’s a good idea or that drivers will use it. Smartphone users spend 85% of their time on just five apps. After a decade of cluttering their devices, people are getting back to basics, including truckers.
Drivers want a platform with a single point of access that provides a complete view of everything they need to get the job done, including navigation, hours of service, track and trace, scan documents, fueling options and weigh station bypass – all accessible through one app. This is our approach at Transflo.
Our platform is a launching pad for solutions that strengthen personal connections between drivers, carriers and freight brokers. With Transflo Velocity+, company owner-operators and drivers can chat live with brokers and 3PL partners through the app and eliminate time-consuming phone calls. Transflo Engage gives fleets the ability to measure driver satisfaction through surveys delivered directly from the Transflo Mobile+ app. Live chats, surveys, and other personal communications help truckers feel more engaged and “heard,” which has been a challenge for the industry for generations.
Digital Freight Matching
Digital freight brokerage. A “book now” button. Whatever you call it, Automated Freight Booking is designed to provide one-touch quoting of loads displayed on load boards – where the broker posts a fixed rate and terms.
When the carrier presses a “book now” button to accept the load, shipment details and documentation are sent electronically to the driver. Load is tracked using an app on the conductor‘s mobile device, and status and exception alerts are available via SMS or email. The‘s nobody needs to make a phone call unless there is‘a problem.
The result: the ability to manage an entire workflow – tenders, shipping documents, digital data extraction, load visibility, invoicing and expedited payment processing – through a centralized platform.
AI and machine learning
In order to cover each load, digital brokers must have access to a large amount of available capacity. Today, most of these brokers connect with carriers in the spot market without knowing them too well. Finding available capacity is a challenge.
Today, digital brokers are experimenting with self-driving trucks for shipping and delivering goods fully autonomously. In one example, a sender used the broker‘online booking engine to hire a carrier to transport a load of corn to Texas. The system calculated a rate, then dispatched an autonomous truck to do the job without phone calls or human interaction.
But fully autonomous trucks are still years away. And in a story about the future of truck driving, who wants to get the driver out of the cab?
A more realistic step towards automated freight matching is to move from a system where the driver or carrier searches for loads to one where the broker can provide selected options automatically. It’s like Netflix for uploads: you can use the search function to find a show, but if you want to tune in and see what‘s streaming it‘I will offer you some items similar to what you have seen before.
The broker can serve loads based on a driver’s preferences for lanes, facilities, fares and other factors. With access to ELD and location data, it can promote loads that make sense based on the driver’s duty status. When the system knows that a carrier has the right equipment in the right place and the driver has enough hours to work, this can generate a rate and conditions that the trucker will want to accept.
Automating, ELDs, digital workflows, mobile devices and other applications can seem disruptive and even threatening. However, they have the potential to handle routine tasks with speed and precision so drivers can discover what they love most about their jobs: the friends they work with, the loads they haul, the trucks they drive. they’re driving and coming home for a vacation or their weekend snap.
Verlen Larsen is a Solutions Architect for Transflo, a leading provider of mobile, telematics and business process automation solutions for the transportation industry. Transflo’s mobile and cloud-based technologies provide real-time communications to fleets, freight brokers, shippers and commercial vehicle drivers. Verlen is a frequent speaker and writer on technology, training, and transportation. He is a self-proclaimed lifer trucker with a background that includes driving, dispatching, safety, corporate, and sales management. He also founded Trans-Formative, a consulting firm in technology and rapid training.