As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many consumers are opting to shop online instead of in-store, thus contributing to a significant amount of growth in the e-commerce industry. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the United States’ total e-commerce sales grew by 32.4% in 2020, with consumers spending a total of $791.10 billion online. This is the highest annual growth rate the industry has seen in nearly two decades. However, with a growing industry comes a growing number of challenges, as many companies are struggling to keep up with the flood of online orders.
The Need for More Drivers
With the e-commerce industry booming, the trucking industry is currently facing a significant increase in shipping demands. As services like same and next-day delivery, and minute-by-minute package tracking updates are becoming increasingly common, consumers want (and have come to expect) faster delivery times and full visibility of their orders. While keeping up with such demands may sound like an easy feat, it has hardly proven to be the case. Throughout the pandemic, the number of online orders has begun to outpace the trucks and drivers that are available to deliver them. As a result, the cost of many products and the transportation services required to deliver them have increased.
New drivers are needed now more than ever to close this gap and regain control over product and transportation costs. However, it’s becoming harder and harder to find and recruit them, today. The role of a long-haul or regional driver is a demanding one and requires significant commitment, as it often calls for extended periods away from home. For instance, over-the-road drivers will typically stay out on the job anywhere between four-to-six weeks at a time. Additionally, increased regulations and an unpredictable market have made this profession seem less appealing. According to an estimate from the American Trucking Associations, the United States could expect to be short by 239,000 truck drivers entering into 2022.
Attracting and Retaining New Drivers
How do you begin to find the best drivers for your fleet? The best drivers are those that take pride in what they do and work hard to provide excellent communication and customer service. When you hire great talent, your entire operation improves. However, once you have hired the best drivers, you need to ensure that you are assigning the right individual to a trip’s route. This is where a transportation management system (TMS) and optimization technology can help. Optimization technology within a TMS can intelligently match drivers with truck assets, and incorporate hours of service (HOS) so that the drivers chosen can take the trip and ensure that current regulations are being followed.
How Optimization Technology Can Help to Combat the Driver Shortage
Optimization is defined as a quantitative and systematic approach to finding the best possible answer to a specific problem. To do this, optimization technology uses algorithms to generate solutions for solving a diverse set of problems. In transportation, optimization technology is used to create schedules to deliver directly to consumers; and it analyzes shipments, rates, lanes and constraints to generate a load plan at the best possible price across the most efficient transportation network.
An intelligent TMS features applications such as smart load matching, route planning and driver selection to significantly lower transportation costs, improve overall efficiency and productivity and increase customer satisfaction rates. Optimization capabilities in a TMS also help in choosing the most profitable loads for drivers, while considering both their hours of service and personal preferences.
The following features in an intelligent TMS can help to combat the current driver shortage:
Smart load matching can create more profitable loads. Additionally, smart load matching can help to evaluate drivers, view load details and see where drivers are located near loads. Then, it can incorporate hours of service to calculate a load’s total amount of profit. A TMS considers numerous potential shipments from load boards, inserts this information into a driver’s route, assesses the driver’s ability to carry the load and calculates the driver’s total amount of revenue either per miles or per the number of days traveled. Based upon all this information, a TMS will then recommend the best loads for carriers.
Smart route planning can generate trip plans for drivers that meet the current regulations and restrictions on hours of service, as well as provide more accurate estimates on deliveries’ arrival times. A TMS will generate hour-by-hour plans for drivers while considering available working hours, pick-up and delivery timeframes, the amount of time spent traveling, fuel stops, rest stops and weigh stations. As each driver journeys down the road, the TMS-generated route plan and estimated arrival time will be updated, automatically.
Smart driver selection can help to assign the best drivers to loads using data collected from their hours of service. Drivers need to be selected based upon the types of trucks that they have experience operating. Additionally, HOS regulations for a driver need to match the load. For example, if a driver already has 11 hours logged for the day, they can’t make any additional trips and must rest for at least 8 hours. However, if you have a load that requires a driver to travel for 6 hours on the road, then they would technically have an additional 5 hours that they are capable of driving for the day. Do you have other loads that your drivers can pick up and complete before their HOS limits kick in? An intelligent TMS application helps to provide the access and visibility needed for such information.
Trimble Transportation Has Your Needs Covered
Regardless of your company’s size, Trimble Transportation is committed to providing a sustainable solution to every carrier. By leveraging transportation technology like Trimble’s Innovative TMS, you will not only have access to the same applications as larger organizations; you’ll also be able to improve your operational efficiencies and make more informed decisions to reduce your overall expenses.
Trimble Transportation’s TMS enables its users to efficiently manage their fleets and make continuous improvements, even in times of uncertainty.