How Fleet Managers are Addressing Disruption in Trucking
The trucking industry is the back bone of the American economy and has been since the 1950 and 60s when the Interstate Highway System was developed linking cities across the United States and enabling over-the-road trucking as the most common form of transport. Since that time, the industry has advanced out of mechanical necessity as well as lawful compliance and regulations. Today, modern technology has provided the trucking industry with substantial improvements in vehicle transmissions, fuel efficiencies and satellite communications, including WIFI and IT capabilities that are transforming how fleet managers and drivers alike are managing their day to day. Some consider the most disruptive technology effecting the trucking industry to be artificial intelligence and automation. And while the overall disruption does not lie solely with self-driving vehicles, it is the need for this type of technology that fleet managers are addressing as they look at business forecasting and strategies.
What Does the Disruption Look Like Beyond the Truck?
When Tesla introduced their first self-driving truck, the impression was formidable. The design was impressive and the vehicle remarkable but what it had really come down to was the software behind the hardware. The disruption was built on a foundation of digital technology that has been very much successful in facilitating all kinds of changes, not the least of which is a truck that can drive itself. Advancements in digital technology are also improving vehicle transmissions, augmenting communications systems and bolstering payment networks. Fleet managers see their industry as a leader and are embracing all that the disruption has to offer.
Payment industry leader EFS offers innovation that was once considered disruptive but is now widely accepted and is helping the trucking industry become more efficient, informed and profitable. With payment at the center of all business transactions, it has become vital to manage with transparency, insight and efficiency. By implementing tools and systems that work for both the company and the employee, EFS has been pivotal in providing a service expertise that also benefits the company by delivering meaningful data to help make decisions faster and smarter. They do it by engaging a customer as a partner. They know the trucking industry so, they know what is best for their client in the context of their business. Their expertise might even be considered the most disruptive element of the business. They take care of payment while the trucking company can focus on over-the-road business.
Disruption Starts with the Infrastructure
The trucking business does not rely solely on the truck. Some would say that payment is the ultimate truth in business and that might have even more meaning in an industry where payment on delivery IS the business. So, let’s start there and look at how the industry is embracing digital technology and companies like EFS to help bolster payment infrastructure and disrupt the process in all the best ways.
1. Fleet Cards: Regardless of fleet size, these cards can help control costs and provide the confidence that your drivers need in responding to the changing dynamic of a growing fleet. Fleet managers like them for the transparency and the ability to customize controls and usage.
2. Settlement Cards: These cards give drivers and contractors immediate access to funds needed on an over-the-road haul. Fleet managers appreciate the simplified administrative process, personalization as well as the increased security.
3. SecureFuel: SecureFuel uses big data to help fleet managers identify purchase irregularities, trigger real-time alerts and ultimately helps you better manage and control your second largest variable expense.
4. Data Analytics: Powerful online tools provide transparency and visibility into purchasing and volume performance to maximize fuel cost and inform purchase decisions.
5. Regulatory and Compliance: Fleet managers can simplify compliance needs with EFS fuel tax reporting tools along with a streamline permit process.
6. Mobile: Both fleet managers and drivers get real-time control anytime and anywhere all in the palm of their hands.
7. Cash Transfer: Fleet managers can provide immediate payment or access to cash to keep fleets moving forward when the fleet or fuel card isn’t an option.
8. Vendor Payments: EFS virtual cards allow highly secure invoice payments to any vendor who accepts Mastercard using the safety of virtual credit cards and virtual accounts.
Who is Driving the Truck vs. Who is Not and Other Opportunities to Consider
With the current conversation focused on the autonomous vehicle, many fleet managers are thinking not so much about who isn’t driving the truck, but who is, which is leading them toward diversification. With the senior population of the trucking industry retiring, there are opportunities for anyone interested in driving, and fleet managers are doing everything they can to attract them. They are putting out an appeal to the under-represented populations in the Latino and African American communities. They are listening to the wants and requirements of the female population, and they are also considering the autonomous truck as a compelling recruitment tactic for millennials. It will be some years before these self-driving trucks are taking on all of the responsibilities on the road. That scenario, however, provides an opportunity for the younger population to experience how A.I. works within the industry. Being a part of something so transformational is exactly what millennials are attracted to, and fleet managers across the nation are hopeful that they will sign on.
Clearly, disruption in the trucking industry stems from technology very much the same as any other industry. However, Wes Mays, Director of Product Development for Omnitracs, an innovative transportation software company suggests that the state of the industry and the potential for growth is even more “jaw-dropping” than most.
Trucking technology today is estimated to be about a $10 billion-a-year business. But Frost & Sullivan predicts it will grow into at $250 billion-a-year industry by 2025. — Wes Mays, Director or Product Innovation, Omnitracs
By adopting autonomous truck technologies, advanced vehicle-related IT systems, robotics, GPS capabilities and cloud-based, automated fleet management systems from EFS, fleet managers are recognizing the flexibility and efficiencies that can be gained by the very disruption that had initially threatened them.