For decades, logistics businesses have been in existence, transporting everything from food to helicopters from one place to another. Like most other industries, logistics has reached a stage where further developments to improve business necessitates automation and technological takeover. As customers become increasingly demanding, and competitors compete for quality service, automating fleet management is the only way for companies to come out on top.
What is the Need for Automation?
Although the logistics industry employs millions of Americans, people have realized that the human capacity to optimize the processes and operations has been reached. Technology is the solution to make the current business operations faster, more reliable, and more accurate.
Sustainability is another goal that every industry aims to achieve. As this article highlights, automation has enabled enterprises to meet business and environmental sustainability targets. The power of telematics devices, AI software platforms, and electronics have been responsible for businesses to boost their profits while remaining environmentally conscious.
1. Fleet Management is More Organized Than Ever
“Fleet” refers to all the vehicles of a logistics company: motor vehicles such as cars, trucks, and non-motorized units like containers and trailers. Whenever a company purchases new vehicles, it is the job of the fleet manager to maintain a record of the trucks in all the company databases. After this, every company employee can access the vehicles’ details, which is the first step towards automation.
Every time a truck goes on a trip from point A to B, carrying X items, driven by Y, every piece of information about the vehicle, driver, and goods goes into the databases.
2. Better Control Over Drivers
Every time a driver completes a trip, details like the hours of service (HOS), how long they were on duty, off duty, or driving, whether they are taking a break, the number of rest breaks, etc. are automatically recorded. These numbers help managers to ensure all the drivers meet their weekly or monthly targets while also getting enough rest. By knowing which drivers are on duty, the software can quickly filter out the free drivers to assign them for future deliveries.
Other devices like retinal cameras monitor the driver’s behavior while driving to warn them of unusual traits like drunkenness. These systems, along with truck camera systems that detect nearby vehicles or potential collisions, automatically bring the truck to a halt if they sense some danger.
3. Location Tracking and On-Road Emergencies
For customers, location tracking is useful because they can follow the package through every road, checkpoint, and overnight halt. The software component can also send emails or mobile alerts to the customer regarding any update regarding the delivery, like expected arrival time.
In their portal, Samsara fleet login (GPS-fleet-tracking) allows the managers and operators to monitor the asset that the trucks transport. For example, if the trucks carry some chemicals or food items, sensors, and thermostats placed inside the container transmit information regarding the temperature while also automatically regulating it.
Combined with the GPS tracker, vehicles also have trigger systems in case of accidents or emergencies, which send out warnings instantaneously. The software system sends a message to a nearby mechanic, the manager, or another driver of the same company to help.
4. Route Optimization
Optimization and scheduling algorithms do wonders when it comes to cutting down costs and saving fuel. For example, for some specialized delivery, you want a high-rated driver, and for another driver, you want to assign multiple shipments because the destinations are nearby. You want one of the drivers to pick up a package from a warehouse en route, so he needs to take a detour.
Managers can feed all such parameters into an algorithm, and a few button presses later, the software automatically throws out a mapping that you should follow.
5. Driverless Fleet
Over the last few years, there has been a shortage of drivers and staff for the fleet in the US. This aspect, along with the need to cut costs, has made the prospect of driverless vehicles desirable for logistics companies.
The various telematics devices, sensors, AI software tools, and necessary human intervention should make it possible to carry out shipments in vehicles driven by machines. Some US companies have successfully deployed this technology to transport goods across states, but the commercialization of autonomous trucks is yet to be done on a large scale.
1. Predictive Analysis
Perhaps the most useful application of automation is the predictive analysis of various parameters. Data regarding the demand of goods across different territories collected over time will enable AI tools to predict the need for the upcoming month or quarter. By sticking to these numbers, logistics companies minimize the waste from excess packaging and save themselves the trouble of dealing with old goods rotting away in the warehouse inventory.
2. Vehicle Maintenance
Devices placed on the vehicle continually track parameters like engine temperature and tire pressure to ensure the truck is serviced at the optimal time. Once repaired, the same devices can also be programmed to check whether the vehicle satisfies the latest safety standards like the brake system and vision assistance.
With the help of automation for vehicle maintenance, the trucks can maximize fuel efficiency, such that they keep air pollution to a minimum. Other forms of environmental harm, like the disposal of old parts, can also be handled responsibly if the crew has a good idea of the maintenance schedule.
3. Paperless All the Way
The automation of communication, record-keeping, and optimization of processes have eliminated the need for paper of any form. Trucks and drivers no longer need physical logbooks to enter details, fleet managers have their entire data stored in a server and not fat books, and all authoritative documents are now electronically created and shared. Automation provides a central repository to store important documents, records, and reports. It also allows control over who has access to specific files. Therefore, having a well-designed document control system is imperative to achieve that. Moreover, payment is almost entirely digitized as well.
Thus, logistics companies contribute significantly to the environment (indirectly) by not using millions of reams of paper that they earlier did.
In the long run, automation is the key to making your business sustainable. Despite the initial investment in all these devices and technologies, the cost of losing business to other competitors who have invested in automation is much more. So, contact a telematics or IoT expert and upgrade your fleet with the latest technologies.