Can Logistics Technology Help Solve the Global Supply Chain Crisis?
Yes, and we’ll tell you exactly how. For many, the severity of the global supply chain crisis is somewhat of a revelation; it’s only sinking in now because of out-of-stock products at our favorite retail giants, like Amazon, Target, and even Starbucks. Anyone working in the logistics industry, however, isn’t shocked in the slightest. The pandemic acted as the straw that broke the camel’s back, but the global supply chain wasn’t working efficiently to begin with.
Now, as we’re scrambling to solve the supply chain problem and get global trade back on track, we’ve come across a surprisingly simple solution: An ordinary app.
Efficiency is part of the problem. Logistics technology is the answer.
Within the logistics industry, outdated tech is a huge problem. The supply chain requires each link to be connected. If each link uses different technology, however, delayed communication causes a break in the chain. The whole system slows to a crawl. This is especially true when some companies are still relying on records written using paper and pen!
Demand for trucks and trailers is at an all-time high. Interestingly, adding more trucks and drivers isn’t necessarily the solution. As it turns out, it’s not that we don’t have enough drivers. It’s that the ones we have are being underutilized, and severely so.
Drivers can waste over four hours of drive time just waiting.
Yes, you read that correctly. A driver can spend more than four-and-a-half hours sitting at facilities waiting to be processed. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Even a slight improvement could completely reverse the capacity crisis.
In a recent study by MIT, it was estimated that freeing up just 12 extra minutes of drive time per driver per day could end the driver shortage. 12 minutes isn’t much, but it’s enough. So how can it be achieved? By getting in and out of freight facilities faster, and innovative logistics technology can potentially make it happen.
Instead of waiting to speak to a guard to get directed to the correct location, drivers will soon be able to find that information themselves through an app. The very same app can generate an exit code to hasten the checkout process. As a result, drivers can get back on the road much faster than they would have if the process were done manually. It saves time for drivers and guards alike, helping them work together more efficiently to move shipments down the supply chain and get back on track.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to freeing up drive time.
The new logistics technology works similarly to that of TSA precheck. At the airport, TSA precheck bestows pre-authorization on passengers who pose the lowest security risk. From there, pre-checked travelers can skip screening steps, getting everyone to their gates faster.
Logistics technology can provide similar preauthorization to drivers prior to their arrival at ports and other pickup locations. The job of a truck driver is to drive, not sit in a queue for hours on end. Lucky for them, automation may be able to improve efficiency more than we realize. 12 minutes is all that’s needed, but it’s only the beginning of what’s possible if the new technology is implemented industry-wide.
Let’s refer back to our TSA precheck example. When one passenger gets through the security line faster, all of the passengers in line behind them also benefit. The same concept applies to logistics. Each truck driver using the new tech helps the drivers that follow. The more drivers that use the new technology, the more the effect is magnified, creating a chain reaction. Just take Coca-Cola. Using the new logistics technology, drivers were able to cut their wait time from 66 minutes to just 11.
The new logistics tech is beneficial to everyone involved.
Facilities are able to manage multiple drivers at once rather than processing each driver individually. It’s much easier and more efficient across the board, and the applications don’t stop there. While loading and unloading procedures have the greatest initial impact, there are other areas in which technology can improve efficiency as well. For example, consider the impact of using a YMS, or yard management system. By using a YMS, drivers and managers alike can easily keep track of the location and state of trailers to avoid delays.
The future of logistics technology is bright. Don’t fight it.
While some logistics companies have been hesitant to invest in new tech, it’s likely to remain relevant and essential long after the supply chain crisis blows over. Contactless pickup and delivery solutions began to improve safety mid-pandemic, but these methods have also proven to be effective at improving efficiency and visibility throughout the industry.
The pandemic-induced driver shortage and supply chain crisis are no fun, to put it mildly, but the long-term result will likely be a positive one: A future with improved logistical efficiency, less busywork, fewer delays, and happier drivers.
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