Logistics, as an industry, is constantly changing. In the not-so-distant past, short-haul trucking and other logistics companies had to rely on lots of tedious, manual processes to keep track of drivers, plan routes, send invoices, handle tickets and store data. Recently, however, the rapid evolution of supply chain management technologies like machine learning, automation, artificial intelligence and the cloud has coincided with the growing importance of data and analytics in transportation and fleet management. The result?
Having all of that data at your fingertips enables more accurate forecasting, facilitates predictive fleet maintenance, and encourages greater efficiency and transparency to help you reduce costs and minimize errors throughout your hauling business. More importantly, these logistics technologies keep you competitive in this ever-shifting landscape, all while satisfying your customer and client expectations.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the technologies currently being used in the logistics industry, including the all-important transportation management system (TMS). We also cover some of the capabilities of Qv21’s own software solution and give a brief run-through of trending, on-the-rise logistics technologies.
The Role of the Transportation Management System
Any discussion about logistics technology and short-haul trucking operations should start with the TMS. A well-designed TMS is the core of virtually all other logistics technology. In a broad sense, your TMS is a platform that ensures every aspect of your trucking business is as efficient as possible, while assisting you with maintaining full compliance with national transportation regulations. A TMS is particularly beneficial for short-haul trucking companies for several reasons:
- It helps trucking businesses strategize, execute, and optimize the incoming and outgoing movement of all types of commodities.
- It keeps everything organized when work starts to pile up, preventing you and your employees from becoming completely overwhelmed.
- It scales as your trucking company grows and is flexible enough to handle a variety of commodities in a variety of industries.
- It provides ongoing support, even after the sale. (And a really good TMS -- like Qv21 -- gives you access to an account manager who checks in on you as often as you’d like.)
- It offers automated dispatch, ticketing, invoicing and reporting functionality.
Software over Hardware
Qv21’s own TMS, The LogisticsFramework™ (TLF), is a robust, cloud-based, end-to-end logistics system capable of handling dispatch, GPS location tracking (geo-tracking), e-ticketing, reporting, driver payroll, rating, invoicing and much more -- all in a single platform. The software dashboard is fully customizable, allowing you to schedule jobs, track orders and manage your fleet from anywhere using our flexible software modules. On top of all that, Qv21’s unique solution enables hands-free messaging and notifications to keep drivers safe and off of their smartphones.
While our focus has always been on software, that doesn’t mean we neglect the hardware! Our industry-leading SaaS platform contains fully integrated HOS ELD (hours of service electronic logging devices) compliance tools to help drivers log hours of service and report their status using just a smartphone or tablet. With a single push of a button, all logs of a specific driver can be transmitted to the TLF™ platform. Best of all, all hardware is included in the price of the software and can be installed in under an hour on the vehicle’s CAN bus and mounted on the dashboard.
Logistics Technology Trends
As we mentioned before, artificial intelligence and automation technologies are now entering the logistics sphere as well. We’re already starting to see things like customer service chatbots, self-driving trucks and other autonomous vehicles. Other trending logistics technologies used by trucking businesses include:
- Advanced GPS: GPS is used to plan and optimize routes, as well as for facilitating driver tracking. Ultimately, this keeps drivers on schedule while reducing the frustration that comes from being stuck in traffic or lost on a route.
- Dash Cams: These are now used inside the cabs of many trucks to provide crash monitoring, increased visibility for the driver in front of and behind the trucks, and to better evaluate driver performance.
- Mobile Applications: Mobile apps can monitor driver performance metrics in real-time, provide notifications to your dispatchers, and make information more accessible to stakeholders. (You’ll find these capabilities in our Business Intelligence module.)
- Software as a Service (SaaS): With secure data storage in the cloud, SaaS guarantees you’ll never have to worry about losing critical data for any truck or driver in your fleet. Our cloud-based TLF eliminates the need for expensive legacy software that has to be installed, run and maintained in a single, centralized, physical location.
Logistics Without Barriers
Bulk commodity trucking companies throughout the country are relying on Qv21 software on their hardware devices for geo-mapping and dispatch services. We have a handful of partners who use Qv21 software in all of their devices. One such partner is SpeedGauge, who offers driving analytics services in the form of behavioral software solutions and telematics for fleets of all sizes. By sending telematics, ELD and mobile device data to insurance carriers, they can help you get better insurance rates if all of your clients’ drivers are safe.
We’re also proud partners of Brother Mobile Solutions who provide mobile printing solutions for transportation companies (among their many other services). With no ink, wires or cords to worry about, their in-cab printing devices save you and your drivers time and money by quickly and reliably printing full-page, high-resolution driver logs, HOS records and invoices.
With the right logistics technologies, short-haul, bulk commodity trucking companies just like yours can achieve Logistics Without Barriers. Our industry-leading TMS and its state-of-the-art software modules will take care of all the heavy lifting so you can focus on scaling your operation. For help navigating your way through the world of fleet logistics, get in touch with us today and check out our resources page for more info!
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