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On the Road With Your Supply Chain: What to Avoid

Written by Elias Schoelmann
March 14, 2016

The transport industry faces a significant driver shortage

The transport industry faces a significant driver shortage

While information can travel around the world in seconds, physical goods still need traditional vehicles to transport them. No matter how connected a company may be, trucks are still crucial to supply chain logistics management.

Businesses need vehicles to ship their products and supplies down the street or across the country. Modern technology can make the process simpler, but modern organizations still deal with obstacles many previous generations had to deal with. Here are a few challenges facing the truck shipping industry and how companies can use data collection technology to respond to and overcome problems:

Driver Shortage

It’s possible within a few years self-driving trucks will revolutionize the shipping and transport industry. The technology is still in its infancy, however, and companies need humans behind the wheel. The most recent report by the American Trucking Association revealed there is a drastic driver shortage in the U.S. Between 2015 and 2025 companies will have to hire 89,000 vehicle operators to catch up.

The reasons are given for the shortage vary. Many legacy drivers leave the industry, while it’s hard to attract new hires. The position requires long hours and awkward schedules. There is a severe lack of qualified applicants, but most manufacturers need help in a strong economy seeing an increase in demand for goods.

The more flexible schedules businesses can offer, the more likely they can attract new drivers. Mobile data collection devices are a convenient solution to many organizations, especially when they can offer business software functionality on popular consumer devices. It allows managers to plan projects smartly and around employee needs. Easy-to-use data collection can also improve the training process so new hires get up to speed much quicker and learn best practices that prevent costly problems.


New drivers without much experience behind the wheel of large vehicles may cause accidents. Logistics News said mistakes on the road are not only dangerous but one of the major costs of the supply chain industry. Accidents destroy inventory, vehicle assets, halt distribution and leave organizations open to liability. Not to mention, destructive incidents are terrible for public relations.

Supply Chain Digest discussed how the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created the hours of service rules for truck drivers in 2013. The new standards forced companies to limit driving schedules to amounts the safety organization felt were healthy to prevent exhausted drivers from making mistakes. Many supporters feel the rules have done a great job curtailing accidents and want more regulations put in place.

Mobile data collection devices integrated into a centralized system help businesses gain complete visibility of all inventory management actions. Overseers can compare procedures to industry standards and plan future projects based on all relevant information. If a company must change routines to respond to new regulations, it’s best to plot new courses with as much significant data as possible.

Also, truck drivers working with mobile data collection devices can report information related to accidents on the road. By capturing the details of each incident, managers can create new training programs and best practices to avoid the same mistakes in the future.

Closed Roads

Canadian Manufacturing reported on a bridge closure that dealt a significant blow to the local transport industry. The Nipigon River Bridge suffered damage to its steel decking and vehicles were unable to safely cross. The loss of the bridge was a major obstacle to the 10,000 vehicles – many of them transport trucks – that use the route everyday.

Problems on the road such as road, bridge and off-ramp closures can delay transport schedules or outright stop deliveries if alternative plans are not made. Many businesses should expect this kind of physical barrier as old municipal structures begin to degrade and extreme weather events cause major damage.

Businesses should always have backup plans. This could mean using alternative routes or warehouses in other locations. Even companies with limited resources, can work smarter and view all of the information necessary to plan direct paths and locate the side roads they can utilize with little additional delay. Mobile data collection plans can capture all of the details needed to make the best decisions and communicate new decisions to all relevant partners. The more connected an organization is, the better it can shift procedures to overcome obstacles.