In the last two years, trucking companies have had to answer a wide range of questions about how they operate — from mask mandates and driver protections to information about zero contact delivery and creative solutions to in-home installations.
These questions are now essentially answered, with best practices established. However, they have been replaced by a new wave of queries having to do with location, sustainability and labor. Carriers must be aware of these new questions and have solutions to remain desirable to the modern shipper.
Where’s my stuff?
The global pandemic created a reset moment for companies operating sophisticated supply chains. Getting through the most challenging moments of COVID-19 required tremendous ingenuity, and new approaches were established across the board. One of the most significant shifts came from how warehouses utilize their staff. As leaders, were forced to do more with less.
This emphasizes the value of location data, which allows warehouse and distribution center leaders to prepare for the exact moment a shipment arrives. Instead of requiring a driver to idle at a particular gate, the idea is to have receiving teams available when goods become available to unload. Taking it a step further, many warehousing facilities even schedule employee lunch times around ETA to maximize productivity.
To meet these needs, trucking companies must offer real-time track and trace options, whether that’s provided through a transportation management system (TMS), a geo-fencing solution, or even simple SMS solutions that can ping a driver’s phone to identify location.
The value of location data isn’t limited to warehouse leaders. Today’s top shippers want to offer real-time updates to their customers on when a load will arrive.
How can we make it greener?
It’s not news that trucking and transportation are ultimately bad for the environment. What is more relevant, however, is a coming set of regulations that will require companies to disclose their carbon emissions.
The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) will soon ask public companies to put their carbon emissions in their earnings statements, which are legal documents. CFOs at major organizations will be required to provide accurate information in these reports or risk jail time for presenting to their investors.
This line of questions will trickle down to trucking companies, and carriers must prepare to offer this information in detail. It will likely start with how much fuel was utilized but will ultimately focus on several factors, including idling time, miles per gallon and more.
How are you handling labor?
The trucking landscape is changing dramatically. A prominent example of this is Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) in California, which is altering traditional trucking models, especially the tri-lease model in which a driver leases their vehicle to a carrier and operates under the carrier’s authority. In addition, several other states are looking at adopting some version of this statute.
But shippers aren’t just questioning worker classification. A separate legal decision by the Supreme Court has opened the door for freight brokers and companies who are outsourcing some capacity to establish prudent hiring practices that limit the risk of an accident.
The prevalence of nuclear verdicts and newfound liability that can be passed across stakeholders is pushing today’s biggest shippers to insulate themselves from risk, meaning transportation companies must prepare to address and alleviate these concerns.
When it comes to the logistics world, the one constant is change. The most progressive shippers will continue to iterate their supply chains, striking the right balance of safety inventory and increasing productivity while maintaining a consistent headcount.
This means there will always be new demands placed on trucking companies. Carriers that can confidently answer questions about labor, sustainability and location will be the most desirable for shippers moving forward.
Mike Bush is the Head of Comms & Brand at NEXT Trucking, a FreightTech pioneer and drayage leader connecting some of the world’s largest shippers with carriers. He has nearly 20 years of experience in supply chain, logistics and transportation. Connect with Mike on Twitter: twitter.com/mikebush.