The ATA’s Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) 2021 Fall Meeting recently took place in Cleveland, Ohio, bringing together transportation companies and vendors in the $250 billion industry. The event theme, “Mastering the New Realities of Maintenance Management”, featured sessions on vehicle electrification, future vehicle design and communication technologies, as well as other topics including advanced driver assistance systems, spec’ing vehicles for 2022 and beyond and much more. Not surprisingly, technology took center stage as trucking companies accelerated their adoption of telematics and other cutting-edge technologies.
Let’s take a look at three takeaways from this year’s fall meeting and what they mean for your fleet.Technology took center stage at the TMC's Fall Meeting—here's what you missed and three essential takeaways! Click To Tweet
#1. The Importance of Relationships During Supply Chain Challenges
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to supply chain issues across the economy. As labor shortages persist, the global economy is struggling to produce everything from microchips to manufactured parts. It’s a frustrating problem for manufacturers that want to deliver equipment and fleets that want to increase capacity or improve efficiency.
A Panel from TMC’s 2021 Fall Meeting
As one of the industry’s first in-person trade shows since the COVID-19 outbreak, relationship building was a key focus at the fall meeting. When supply is limited, these relationships can mean the difference between being at the front of the line or waiting months for new equipment.
There are several ways to improve your relationships:
- Touch base with suppliers regularly—even when you don’t need to negotiate—to get a pulse on their business. Since these conversations aren’t negotiations, suppliers are likely to share valuable information more freely.
- Be prompt and honest when talking to suppliers. On-time payments and accurate estimates for order sizes will go a long way in improving your relationship with them. Also, if something goes wrong, reach out to them immediately to let them know.
- Communicate using a single channel that’s easily searchable. That way, you can quickly reference past conversations and pick up where you left off. Or, you can use supplier management tools to simplify the relationship.
In short, relationships have never been more critical, and they can impact your place in line. Try to be an excellent client by adhering to common courtesies, strictly adhering to payment terms, and being polite when communicating with them – even during setbacks or when you’re frustrated. These simple steps can make you more attractive than the majority of their other customers.
#2. Data is Becoming a Must-Have
The COVID-19 pandemic has also put pressure on the trucking industry to become more efficient. With fewer resources available, companies must lean on efficiency gains to drive revenue and profitability. And often, these efficiency gains come through technology, which makes it easy to make optimized, data-driven decisions.
For example, telematics can help you forecast everything from asset tracking to truck replacement cycles. Many of these solutions involve a low upfront cost in exchange for immediate cost savings and an opportunity to streamline your business. And they’re becoming increasingly critical in today’s environment.
There are two key data points to address supply chain issues:
- Predictive maintenance can help you proactively stock parts for the upcoming year and avoid unnecessarily taking trucks out of service due to parts shortages. As a side-effect, you can give advance notice to your suppliers and improve your relationships.
- Asset tracking can maximize your asset utilization levels when you have limited resources. With growing shipping demand, fleets are under pressure to make the most of their existing assets, which is impossible when you don’t know their location or status.
In addition to meeting supply challenges, telematics data is becoming increasingly necessary to compete. Many tech companies like Amazon are starting to foray into the logistics space, which means that fleets could see pricing pressure that forces them to find ways to improve their profitability to remain competitive over the long term.
#3. Telematics Continue to Evolve
Most trucking companies recognize the benefit of real-time location tracking, but modern telematics solutions go well beyond the basics. For example, many ELD providers have begun offering dash cams and driver performance measurements to increase accountability and protect drivers and assets in the event of an accident.
There are also a growing number of partnerships throughout the industry. For instance, Powerfleet recently partnered with Hyundai Translead, a leading van trailer manufacturer, to leverage the Powerfleet LV-300 trailer tracking gateway solution to launch HT LinkSense, providing managers with the flexibility to choose sensors and telematics to meet their needs.
Powerfleet’s Vista Platform – Source: Powerfleet
Although dash cams are starting to become more common inside cabs, a new breed of connected video-enabled telematics solutions is emerging, powered by AI technologies, machine learning, and 4G LTE real-time connectivity. Powerfleet’s recently launched Vista platform for example, not only delivers real-time high-definition video, from road and driver facing cameras, but also leverages the latest artificial intelligence to analyze and proactively manage risky driving situations across fleets.
Along with our other software solutions, you can quickly access the key performance indicators that you need to make data-driven decisions that meaningfully impact your top and bottom line.
Beyond the Supply Chain
Supply chain challenges were front and center during the TMC’s fall meeting, but the benefits of telematics extend beyond supply chain issues. There are many different ways that telematics can help streamline operations, eliminate waste, improve safety, and help companies improve their overall business.
Other essential benefits of telematics include:
- Driver Safety: Driver safety is a key concern for every fleet for obvious reasons. In addition to reducing breakdowns through predictive maintenance, telematics can help monitor driver behaviors, such as harsh braking or speeding, to proactively reach out and reduce potential safety hazards before they result in an accident.
- Coordination: Many fleets struggle with excessive detention times and other issues that stem from poor communication with loading and unloading docks. Using telematics, you can provide accurate arrival estimates and pave the way for live loads and other strategies to reduce turnaround time.
- Compliance: The FMCSA mandates that all drivers operate within their hours-of-service (HOS) protocol. Rather than using pen and paper, electronic logging devices (ELDs) help ensure compliance, making it easier than ever to meet requirements. The result is fewer fines and safer driving through proper rest.
- Fuel Efficiency: Telematics can help collect fuel efficiency statistics, including everything from vehicle MPG to idle time, to optimize behaviors on the road. In addition, optimized routes can help avoid excessive driving and cut down on fuel costs—a key cost center apart from labor.
- Customer Service: Telematics can help improve customer service by providing accurate estimates and ensuring the products reach their destination intact. For instance, reefer telematics can help ensure that temperatures remain within range during transit to avoid spoiled food or pharmaceuticals.
Oftentimes, the key to success when implementing telematics is incorporating all of this data into a unified interface that’s easy to use and provides actionable insights. It’s equally important to ensure that hardware is rugged and low-maintenance to ensure constant data collection and minimize frustration from fleet managers.
The Bottom Line
The TMC’s Fall Meeting underscored the importance of technology in addressing supply chain issues and demands for greater efficiency. With telematics solutions, fleets can better predict maintenance requirements over the coming year and maximize asset utilization to make the most of their assets when purchasing new assets is difficult.