By Bart De Muynck
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves or its affiliates.
This article is inspired by National Truck Driver Appreciation Week (NTDAW), which begins Sunday and runs through Sept. 16. NTDAW is an important time for America to thank all the professional truck drivers for their hard work and commitment in undertaking one of our economy’s most demanding and important jobs. These 3.5 million professional men and women not only deliver our goods safely, securely and on time, but they also keep our highways safe. Nearly every aspect of our daily lives is made possible because a truck driver delivered the goods and resources we all need.
But truck driving is a hard job with incredible hours and often low wages. Drivers also have to deal with a lot of inefficiencies created by traffic congestion, lack of truck parking spaces or waiting times at yards, just to name a few. And the current economic conditions have not made it easier on truck drivers’ already dire situation. Just recently thousands of drivers lost their jobs when Yellow went bankrupt. So how do we collaborate better with transportation companies and drivers to improve drivers’ lives?
Besides treating drivers better by welcoming them at loading and unloading locations with respect and, even more important, access to clean toilets and a hot coffee or a refreshing drink during the hot summer months, technology can improve drivers’ lives. Improving the lives and working conditions of truck drivers through collaboration requires the involvement of multiple stakeholders, including trucking companies, drivers, regulatory bodies, technology providers and the general public.
Dynamic optimization is one way shipments can be optimized better by taking into consideration actual information from loading and unloading locations as well as weather and traffic. This in turn allows drivers better flow-through in the yard as well as more optimal driving conditions on the road. Optym’s RouteMax is one solution that helps asset-based trucking companies optimize better.
Real-time visibility is another solution that can help drivers eliminate multiple check calls and focus on their job: driving without distraction. Project44 works with many shippers and trucking companies to help improve drivers’ daily jobs.
The use of apps and other tools to help automate the driver’s life, such as digital documentation or dynamic appointment scheduling, can eliminate unnecessary manual tasks or hold up a driver waiting for paper documents at a stop. More time to drive means less stress and safer driving. And finally, autonomous technology can help improve the safety and driving experience by eliminating a lot of the “white knuckling” in which truck drivers must deal with inexperienced, noncommercial drivers creating all kinds of hazards.
If shippers and carriers collaborate more around solutions that impact the drivers, then we can improve efficiency in transportation while at the same time make driving more attractive to a new generation of Americans. Establishing a good working relationship with shippers ensures smoother loading/unloading, reduces waiting times and can lead to better facilities for drivers at shipping/receiving points.
But let’s also involve the drivers in the process. Develop platforms where drivers can provide feedback on routes, rest stops, loading/unloading zones and other aspects of the job. This can help companies make better operational decisions. Develop collaborative scheduling platforms where drivers can collaborate on scheduling to ensure they get optimal rest, time with family and can potentially swap routes with other drivers if needed.
Trucking and logistics have been a part of my life for more than 30 years and so I want to show my appreciation through this article for all the truck drivers who make our lives better. Thank you.
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About the author
Bart De Muynck is an industry thought leader with over 30 years of supply chain and logistics experience. He has worked for major international companies, including EY, GE Capital, Penske Logistics and PepsiCo, as well as several tech companies. He also spent eight years as a vice president of research at Gartner and, most recently, served as chief industry officer at project44. He is a member of the Forbes Technology Council and CSCMP’s Executive Inner Circle.
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