Mobile Apps: Revolutionizing The Transport Industry

Kate Gardner, Director Of IT, Taylor Truck Line, Inc
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Kate Gardner, Director Of IT, Taylor Truck Line, Inc

Challenges in Technology to Meet Needs of the Logistics Sector

With the consistently changing regulations that have come about in the last few years, this industry has certainly become a technological challenge. Gone are the days when a driver would call his dispatcher from a payphone at a Truckstop to find out where he was going next and write it on his hand. Today we receive an order electronically, the ETA is calculated automatically via in cab communication which includes routing and fuel stop locations. But unforeseen problems such as traffic congestion due to rush hour or an accident had not been taken into account. Drivers are not allowed to use cell phones while driving or are text messages possible in these situations. Such situations impact the ETA but we are unaware until it is too late. Real-time re-routing for these situations is not currently readily available.

A solution that could send the electronic re-route to the dispatcher for approval would be just one way that we could be proactive in keeping up with our fleet.

The areas in business environment where solutions do not yet exist or not up to the mark, and which if existed, would've made job easier

I am very passionate about technology and am fascinated about how just one new feature can make or break the bottom line. For example: Your TMS vendor has added something for you but once applied in the live environment, all is dark. This is our worst fear. The true issue that causes this is generally the cross platform issues that cannot be truly tested until it is live. Most technology companies hire staffs like me who have an IT background but not a logistics background. This creates the ‘book world vs. real world’ issue. When starting here at Taylor, I had made the mistake of learning the Enterprise system inside out. I built a new testing system that was top of the line and tested every scenario to verify before implementation. After several months of learning and testing, I turned on a standard interface that would save them time from duplicate entry, and the system went dark for several hours and we had to restore our systems from back up. What I learnt was that the system worked perfectly, but the staff that had been using the system for 5 years had not been trained properly on the system nor were given instructions on the new features. I had tested the system according to how it was written to work, but had not taken into consideration that the people who had been using the system did not know that there was a difference between something marked ‘completed’ vs. ‘closed’. Often, manuals are written in technobabble that only other technology professionals can read and to us it makes perfect sense. What we all need to remember is that very few of us who are creating these systems and interfaces are not the people using them.

Technological Trends Impacting the Logistics Industry

Although BYOD has been argued on both sides of the fence for quite some time, I can see that the security trends within Mobile Apps will truly revolutionize the transportation industry. Push notifications to Safety personnel to show that a crash indicator has been triggered with the proper geolocation would be just one example of where we’re hoping to go with this technology.

No touch data is what I’m really looking forward to in the not too distant future. As this technology progresses it will be a huge time and money saver. Currently for example a driver will get into his truck and log into his comm-unit, change his duty status then check on his loads. The display will no show while he is driving for safety reasons, so he will not begin driving until all of this is done. No touch data inside his truck would let him communicate with the system while he is looking at the paperwork rather than reading the BOL and having to type the info in afterwards. Often times this can create transposition etc. He would also be on the road faster thus driving more revenue.