The Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent response have changed the day-to-day realities of transportation and trucking. While many workers are forced to stay at home, fleet-based drivers at transport companies are considered an essential service and continue to deliver goods across the country, albeit across a vastly different landscape.
Drivers have to observe heightened health standards while they are on the road, and many of the steps taken to implement these new measures have translated into higher costs for transport companies.
Companies have tried to keep supply chain disruptions at a minimum, but that doesn’t always translate to timely deliveries.
Coordinating the supply chain has become particularly challenging because many participants now have to work from home, and things don’t always go as smoothly as desired.
Challenges Facing Transport Companies
Covid-19 disruptions are not the only challenge facing transportation companies. According to the Annual State of Logistics Report released in 2019 by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, the logistics industry is at a new crossroads.
- An increase in online sales has steadily driven up trucking costs in recent years.
- Apart from increasing haulage costs, online sales have forced tighter delivery schedules. Many companies now deal with next-day deliveries, forcing them to streamline operations to meet customer needs.
- One of the more complex problems facing the industry is an aging workforce. Many drivers are old and on the verge of retirement, and they are hard to replace because young people aren’t eager to get into the trucking industry.
- Safety continues to be an issue for companies. Strict rules and regulations ensure that drivers are well-rested and can drive safely, but that doesn’t eliminate accidents.
What Should Transport Companies Be Doing to Cope?
These may seem like tough problems to deal with especially if your transport company isn’t well established, but they are surmountable.
How well you cope depends on how well you can organize your business and streamline operations. Some of the most reliable and efficient transport companies have adopted some, if not all, of the following measures:
Business Process Improvement
Logistics is a business with many moving parts, and the more cogs there are, the more complex the operation gets.
If you don’t keep a keen eye on business processes you reduce efficiency, and getting goods to different destinations on time is difficult.
As new opportunities arise take advantage of a 3PL company to help streamline operations. A 3PL, or Third Party Logistics, is a third-party provider that works as an extension of your business to cover weak links in your supply chain.
They take care of process planning, strategy and delivery services to ensure you can maximize efficiency and service your customers and eliminate delays.
Improved Customer Service
Online deliveries have changed the way logistics work. Today’s customer wants to be able to keep track of their orders and know where their items are throughout the shipping journey.
To service online stores you’ll need to improve customer service and communication.
Not only do you need to have highly trained and customer-conscious employees, but you also need to invest in the right software and communication equipment. Everyone along the chain should be able to access and pass on information when it’s needed.
Good Manpower Management
Happy drivers make for a good trucking company. Government regulations are clear about what provisions should be available to your workforce, but they are not enough.
One of the biggest problems facing fleet drivers is communication. Invest in equipment that allows them to get instructions promptly and reach out when they need assistance.
Finding a good 3PL company takes away a big part of manpower management – they employ and manage their own drivers. However, whatever staff you have within your business should be taken care of. Take steps to ensure that you are aware of issues they encounter as they transport goods.
Adopt the Right Technology
Getting the latest and the right technology in place is expensive but it is necessary if you’re going to improve efficiency, customer service and overall customer satisfaction. A 3PL company can be very helpful with this as they already have functional systems in place.
As you choose a 3rd party logistics provider check whether they have Electronic Data Exchange for communication, materials handling software and technology, radiofrequency scanning and GPS.
Improve Fuel Efficiency
Increased fuel costs often happen because of inefficient logistics processes. If your fuel bills have been mounting every year, an audit of the system may be worthwhile. Find out where most of the fuel costs come from, and assess whether hiring a 3PL company can reduce the amount of money you spend on fuel.
Staying ahead of these challenges can seem overwhelming especially for small or medium-sized transportation and logistics companies with limited budgets.
Thankfully, a good 3PL company can help. They come equipped with the right systems and strategies to help transport companies meet customer needs while staying profitable.