It’s no secret that the trucking industry plays a critical role in the economy and if it ever came to a standstill, the consequences would have a rippling effect that would cripple the nation. In fact, trucking accounts for 80% of all freight transported annually in the United States. The Department of Transportation found that in 2013 alone, there were over 1 million interstate motor carriers that moved over 9.7 billion tons of freight. Because of its importance to the economy, coupled with the sheer size of the industry as a whole, it’s no surprise that regulations are strict.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) exists to make trucking safe. After all, safe highways, safe roads, safe drivers, safe pedestrians, safe customers – who wouldn’t want that?
Every trucker must comply with FMCSA regulations. Staying in compliance with all the rules and regulations means maintaining a lot of records, however. If these records are kept in paper form, they will take up an awful lot of office space. Space, as everyone knows, costs money and so does paying someone to rifle through a mess of paper documents looking for something when it’s needed.
Electronic logging devices, telematics, inspection data, violation data – the one thing you can be sure of is that all those activities and all that technology produces data. And one look at the frequency with which FMCSA updates the website for the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program tells us the demands for compliance, already heavy, are only going to increase.
As technology continues to advance, many trucking companies are now switching to paperless compliance since it saves on space but also offers many additional benefits, including:
- The facility to input search parameters and find that needle in a haystack in seconds instead of, sometimes, hours
- Faster updates for new hires, violations and other data
- Automatic alerts when permits need to be updated – never have a truck or a driver off the road because a renewal was missed.
Okay, you’ve made the decision to digitize. Now, how are you going to handle it. You have a choice: in-house or outsourced. Whichever way you go, the paper storage costs are going to disappear but let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
- No need to hire more people as you grow
- You are free to concentrate on what you do best, which is running the best transport company you possibly can, and leave the software to people whose core business that is
- The outsourcing company stays on top of all the sometimes frequent changes in federal and state regulations
- Someone else has all your data, so you’d better pick a company you can trust. Totally
- You retain control of all data relating to your own business
- There are continuing staffing and IT equipment costs, which will increase as your business grows
- If you buy another company, the often complex task of converting their data and absorbing it into your system falls to you
If you decide that in-house is best, there’s a variety of software to choose from. Manage the log data, automate driver hiring and keep tabs on qualification checks, training, safety and compliance. Integrating telematics can give real-time alerts on speeding violations and even send a Slow Down alert right into a driver’s cabin.
The decision – outsource or DIY – is yours to make, but in 2016 there isn’t really any doubt about the answer to the paper or digital question. It just has to be digital. Going the other way borders on the masochistic.
Here at Best Yet Express, we’ve made some big changes in this department. We moved to a digitized system a number of years ago but after trying to make someone else’ software work for us we went to the next step and developed our very own software system that is state of the art and constantly being improved and built upon. We are still in the trial phases of this exciting development but will soon be releasing it to the public. Stay tuned!