Truckers – The Unsung Heroes Of American Economy

When the entire world is staying inside the safety and comfort of their homes in an attempt to successfully overcome the pandemic caused by COVID-19, American truckers are on the road, delivering essential items throughout the country. Together with medical professionals and other emergency service workers, truck drivers have immerged as unlikely heroes, patriotically fulfilling their duties in these daunting conditions.

However, their services during such times is not without challenges. A lot of truck drivers and driver-operators have lost their jobs. Mr. Jones, 47 year old tucker from Georgia, has been staying home as he suffers from mild asthma, and is vulnerable to corona virus. Like him, many other drivers have voluntarily given up to work due to their age or any other medical condition that makes them more susceptible to the corona virus infection. While many have had to leave their employment as the businesses or clients for which they carried freight, have closed down due to losses incurred during the pandemic-induced lockdown. Several manufacturing plants and auto plants have shut down and refineries aren’t functional. Because of this situation, many truckers and their families have lost their livelihood.

Another big challenge that the truckers are facing is of displacement. Mr. Lucas from Knox’s county, a trucker for past 20 years, has had to spend his nights sleeping in the bunk area of his vehicle. He has kept a large stock of packaged food, and cooks in the back of his truck to keep himself fed. Although, some truck stops have gregariously opened there services for the drivers, however they are too required to follow the strict rules of lockdown as issued by the local authorities. The truck stops have been serving limited items from their menu through their drive-thru, and have to keep their dining areas closed for service. It is impossible for many truck drivers to bring their vehicle to the drive-thru because of the sheer size of their trailers. Also, given the norms of social distancing, the drivers are finding it difficult to park and rest. Many truck drivers have reportedly admitted on surviving only on snacks like cakes and bread, and other cold food. After a long day of work, many hard-working and dedicated truckers are devoid of the simple comfort hot food and a good bed brings.

Given that the worldwide economy has taken a deep plunge due to COVID-19, truck drivers have also had to compromise with their pay. Although they are risking their lives to deliver the essential goods to American people, their livelihood is threatened by the pandemic. There are several of these drivers who left previous jobs to become a trucker because the pay was good, and they could provide a better life to their families. But because of the pandemic, their major struggle is to keep their employment, even if they have to work for much less pay. Marcus, a resident of London and a new father, has been reportedly working for same clients, on same long routes, but instead of a dollar or two per mile, he is getting paid in pennies. Truckers are hoping that by working for meagre payment in these times, they can safeguard their jobs in future.

Many warehouses as well as truck stops have adopted various precautions, and are screening truckers for coronavirus symptoms through temperature checks. According to Mr. Stanforth, a truck driver from Ohio, if a driver is carrying a haul from only one client, they often do not leave their cabin, and loading/unloading is done by warehouse employees. However, truckers who are taking cargo from several clients at a time, ensure to wear disposable masks and gloves, and frequently change them. Drivers believe that people from their profession must also get convenient access to testing so that they know if they are infected or not, and can be quarantined to minimise the spread.

United States has been the worst hit country in this pandemic, with most number of infected and dead people. Knowing the statistics, truck drivers are always at an increased risk of contracting the virus, and taking it home to their elderly, spouses, and kids, as well risking the life of their colleagues. Truckers are facing a huge dilemma – to stay working, earn but risk their lives, or stay home and face potential financial ruin. Although, President Trump has appreciated and praised truckers as foot soldiers, and offered a part of federal coronavirus assistance to them, most of the fund has been used by bigger trucking companies, leaving independent contractors hanging in the middle, with absolutely nothing. Mr. Oxley has had to return to work as an independent contractor even when fully knowing the risk he is taking because he needs to keep his family financially stable.

With a rise in number of truck drivers positive with corona, it has become more important for the truckers to stay on the road or quarantine themselves before returning to their home. Many truckers are also avoiding taking a job that requires them to go to or through New York and Detroit, as these areas have the highest number of corona victims in the U.S. According to Tom Balzer, the president of the Ohio Trucking Association, “The supply chain that we have in this country is extremely fragile. Any sort of disruption to that throws things in a tailspin.” This is why it is, the responsibility of the government, trucking companies and fleet managers to ensure that the truckers have proper safety gear.

Matrack Incorporation, being a part of trucking industry has created a COVID-19 Heat Map that helps truckers know which city, town and county on their route is safer for them to make a pit stop. It is accessible to our clients on their interface, while other truckers and fleet managers can access it here.

Matrack is proud to be associated with truck drivers who are no less than a superheroes, who have been selflessly providing their services to the entire country to ensure that all those who are at home have everything they need. Although, being on the road, every truck driver knows the safety measures they are required to take and the precautions that can save them against this pandemic, nevertheless, we have compiled a list of necessary actions that they must take.

  1. Keep a good amount of sanitizer, EPA-approved disinfecting sprays and soap with you, so that you do not run out of them while traveling.
  2. Remember to sanitize your hands, steering wheel, and door handles regularly.
  3. Sanitize all equipment like; computers, scanners, cart handles used to haul equipment, and toolboxes
  4. Store several reusable or disposable masks and gloves, and keep changing them when they become ineffective. Ensure to dispose them off properly.
  5. Deep clean your vehicle, sanitize the steering wheel, dash board and interiors of fleet vehicles, and make sure to avoid contact with the goods that you are carrying. Also, at the loading/unloading, keep as less contact with people as possible and maintain social distancing.
  6. Coronavirus infection can be avoided by maintaining distance. So where ever you are or go, maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others. Try not to touch anything.
  7. Although some food joints and eateries have re-opened, it is best to carry your own food. You can carry precooked packaged food, and a small stove to re-heat it. You can also carry your own groceries and supplies to cook a fresh meal.
  8. In case, any of your colleague shows symptoms of the virus, do seek medical help.
  9. At a fuelling station, use disinfecting wipes to clean the fuel pump handle and keypad before punching the odometer and driver ID. If you are wearing gloves for this purpose, make sure to dispose them off and use a fresh set. In case wet wipes are absent, use tissue to touch the same.
  10. As States and counties have imposed their own restriction, fleet managers must ensure that the drivers do follow the norms and rules of the local authorities.
  11. Avoid handshakes at all costs.
  12. Once the drivers are back from their job, it is important that they self-quarantine and get temperature checks daily. And only return to their homes if they show no indication of infection.

What is more important than ever, that our nameless trucking industry heroes are recognized and remembered for the exceptional services they have been providing to support the entire country. Matrack Inc., as a leading fleet management service provider, salutes their efforts and stands in solidarity with them.

The Role Of SCF Donations In Keeping The Trucking Industry Afloat

Key Takeaways:

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. How SCF Works?
  • 3. Benefits Offered
  • 4. Role of SCF
  • 5. Participating Parties
  • 6. Progress
  • 7. Past Experiences
  • 8. Path Ahead
  • 9. Bottom-Line

Truckers are continuously facing different forms of threats as they continue to render professional services amid the pandemic-struck scenario. Besides health-based worries, several financial constraints are slowly but steadily eating into the financial reserves of the drivers while making them prone to a mental breakdown. Truckers still have to pay mortgages, monthly installments, and even have families to feed. Freight volume is at an all-time low, which is attracting the meager payouts and restricted hours of service.

Despite the government and FMCSA joining hands to make strategic modifications to the HOS, sustainability in this pandemic-induced era is still debatable. Most importantly, several drivers even met with accidents or were infected with the coronavirus while being on the road; thereby finding it almost impossible to work and put food on the table for their families.

 Therefore, it is the ‘St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund’ that is raising sizeable donations, targeting injured or indisposed drivers, and helping them sustain themselves during these testing times.

How the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund Works?

To start with, a bit of background regarding this non-profit organization shall be appropriate. Here is a 12-year old organization that targets injured, sick, or unequipped truck drivers and makes sustainability easier for them. This non-profit setup aims at saving trucker families and redirects donations in a highly transparent manner.

Over the past few years, SCF has been working silently towards helping truckers but in the existing scenario, the organization has taken up the responsibilities of collecting sizeable donations for the injured and unwell drivers.

Benefits Offered

SCF or the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund, allows drivers to attend to the medical emergencies without having to worry about pay cuts and dried up financial reserves. Started by Dave Nemo, SCF tries to make things easier for the drivers by mitigating their financial and medical hardships.

SCF makes sure that the following services are provided to the drivers and their families:

  • Assistance with purchasing prescription drugs
  • Shelling out direct payments to the drivers for handling medical services and emergencies
  • Helping drivers negotiate medical bills with hospitals
  • Financial and  medical recovery assistance

Over 12 years, SCF has already extended a helping hand towards thousands of truckers who needed financial support during medical emergencies.

The Role of SCF during the Pandemic

SCF is relentlessly trying to raise donations for the commercial and semi-commercial truck drivers who are facing diverse issues due to the pandemic. For SCF, the main concern is the driver’s illness that is putting their employment and financial health in jeopardy. While SCF is urging the public to donate generously, it has also received a lot of help from some of the leading firms and freight carries. The role of donations when it comes to streamlining and improving the living conditions of the truckers is necessary as these drivers have been helping the citizens through difficult situations and without them, public sustenance would have been nearly impossible.

The main aim of this charity is to take care of all the expenses of the driver, during medical emergencies. Every aspect of livelihood, including vehicle payments, insurance premiums, mortgage payments, and utilities are covered for the time being. The help continues till the time the driver is fit and ready to hit the road.

To date, only two drivers with COVID-19 infection have approached SCF for help. The non-profit firm, however, refrains from making cash payments, directly to the drivers.

The goal for SCF is to raise something in the ballpark of $1 million for this year, as postulated by Shannon Currier, SCF director, Philanthropy and Development.

Parties that have funded the Initiative

Unlike previous years where SCF had to persuade bigger firms to put in donations, the COVID-19 crisis has united the entire trucking industry. To start with, the Pilot Company has provided $100,000 to the organization followed by similar contributions from the leading players like the Progressive Insurance and the ‘Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores’.

Apart from that, esteemed logistics service provider, C.H. Robinson has also contributed a sizeable sum of $50,000 for the cause. The cumulative amount nearly adds up to almost half of the expected sum that is to be raised by the company.

Another key player in this regard is MoLo solutions, a freight-broker that has contributed almost $62,000 to the SCF charity. The contribution comes from personal and per-load pledges.

The first step, however, was taken by PACCAR Inc. in the form of a 20,000 dollar contribution. However, apart from the bigger contributions, the charity did receive smaller yet highly significant funds from several truck manufacturers.

Some of the other prominent names that came to know about SCF and immediately extended helping hand, include OneBeacon Insurance, Pedigree Petfoods, and Citgo Petroleum.

How is Progress Looking?

The pace at which the organization is raising funds comes across with a lot of optimism. It is only a matter of time that SCF adds up one million dollars and lends a helping hand to almost every driver that is in need. Although even the public sentiments are in the favor of these donations, the larger sums from the more established firms are really come in handy.

Covid-19 and the associated lockdowns have made the public sympathetic towards the truckers. With drivers putting in massive efforts to make life comfortable for the general public, public appreciation towards them has increased by a decent margin. Not just that, there has been decent media coverage which is still spreading the word in favor of this incredible organization and its massive efforts to make life easier for the indisposed drivers.

SCF is urging individuals to look for different kinds of charities for the drivers where the funds will directly reach the ones in need. The aim of this organization has always been to unite the truckers and the entire industry concerning freight carriers, providers, logistics firms, and each one of the key players.

Past Experiences

The Tennessee-based non-profit organization has been helping truckers for the past 13 years now. Established in 2007, the firm takes the responsibility of almost every trucker that applies for help and gets enrolled in the database. For instance, SCF helped almost 350 truckers in 2019 and even raised a massive $720,000 a few years back for funding diverse driver initiatives.

Road Ahead for SCF

The organization looks to add in more participants as it feels that funding and donations usually dry up with time. SCF expects that Q3 and Q4 might not attract a lot of donations and therefore it is at the war front to collect as much as possible.

Moreover, drivers are also playing their part by making health surveillance easier. They are adding high-end GPS tracking solutions to the trailers and trucks, which allow companies and authorities to identify their locations. The services and solution from Matrack offer fleet and human-asset tracking facilities which notify companies regarding their physical state. GPS solutions keep accidents to a minimum as real-time tracking allows drivers to stay connected with the authorities, to optimize movements.

The fundraising approach from SCF is revolutionary and is expected to help a lot of drivers in 2020. Each year the organization receives around 400 to 500 applications and ends up helping almost each one of the applicants. However, 2020 hasn’t been a good year for the truckers as they had to toil harder with lesser pay and benefits. Therefore, the target of one million is justified as SCF expects a massive surge in the number of applications due to the catastrophic effects of the global pandemic.

GPS Tracking Is Making Supply Chains More Profitable During COVID-19 Crisis

Key takeaways for future-ready leaders:

  • A robust supply chain is key for successful businesses.  
  • Technologies like real-time GPS tracking are the backbone of a strong and profitable supply chain.
  • Future-oriented businesses must adapt to fluctuations in market conditions.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic will change the way businesses function. 
  • A technology-backed business is future-ready.

The COVID-19 pandemic has propelled immeasurable loss of life, revenue and resources around the world. The United States reported its first cases five months ago and the Trump administration declared the COVID-19 a public health emergency in January 2020. This was followed by the announcement of a national emergency in March. But even as of May 2020 the pandemic shows no signs of retreating. In fact all our states are reporting their highest number of affected cases so far. The crisis and its resultant loss of revenues for companies have left thousands of people jobless. With the unemployment rates in US skyrocketing to 14.7% as of April* and the inevitable stock market crash that followed, warnings of an impending recession across the United States have been sparked. 

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta recently fielded a Survey of Business Uncertainty. As part of this survey businesses were asked to predict how they saw the COVID-19 related developments impacting their revenues. The answers revealed that when they were asked this question in the first week of March, the companies expected their sales revenues to fall at least 6 percent—which itself was a glaring figure. However as we entered the second week of March and the impact of the virus continued to increase, companies saw their margins dropping further and estimated a negative sales hit of up to 12 percent—which was double than the estimates of the previous week and a massive blow to most companies. While the survey continued to be on ground, the numbers plunged even lower.

There are many unknown and unpredictable factors surrounding the COVID-19—from the number of people it will eventually impact to the changes it will bring about in the economic landscape of the world—thus making it difficult for businesses to project how it will affect their operations and revenues even in the short-term.

Thankfully there is some hope for leaders who are willing to adapt and employ the right tools.

While this economic downfall is forcing many businesses to either shut shop entirely or struggle to survive, some companies have been leveraging technologies and strong supply chains to fight against the tide. What’s more is that they are strengthening these aspects to build a future-ready business that no virus can bring down. 

In order to understand how businesses combine the forces of technology and supply chain, let us first see how they work. 

A well-oiled supply chain is what keeps a business running and is largely responsible for its success or failure. This holds especially true in times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic that has left businesses all around the world in turmoil. 

A robust supply chain management (SCM) process can help boost profits by maximizing production, enabling optimal use of resources, planning efficient transport, and thereby increasing customer satisfaction. 

But SCM is like a complex machine comprising many cogs that have to work in sync with each other at all times. To understand this better, let us think of each cog as a job that needs to be completed for the supply chain to progress—so, finding the best raw materials is one cog, their transport to the factory is another cog. Similarly, the storage of raw materials, the product manufacturing process, the packing of goods, and their final haul to the customer are some of the other cogs that help run this machine. 

Once we understand this, it is easy to see that a glitch in any one of the cogs can bring the entire machine to a grinding halt. Let us take the example of a trucking company that has been given the task of transporting essential medical supplies from a central warehouse to hospitals across the country during the COVID-19 crisis. Now imagine any situation that could typically occur enroute—a truck could run out of fuel, a trucker could drive down the wrong road without realizing it, they could be caught speeding or could simply be idling at one spot without purpose. In any of these cases, the delivery of the medical supplies will get hindered; resulting in delayed treatment of the patients and in some cases the loss of lives. For the fleet owner, this would mean negative feedback from the client and possibly cancellation of future business. 

So how can a mess like this be avoided? That is where technology steps-in. 

In the past few decades, technological innovations have been helping businesses create seamless works flows. This is done by ensuring that the people, products, and processes (the cogs!) work well together and more importantly that they have access to a world of instant data every step of the way. One of these technologies commonly used by businesses is the real-time GPS tracking of assets during transportation. (Yes, the trucking company in our example should have used it too!) 

Let’s take a look at how implementing the right tracking solutions during transport can benefit businesses:

  • SIMPLIFY PROCESSES

GPS tracking provides end-to-end monitoring and accurate traceability of assets at all times, helping managers in streamlining operations. This also helps in identifying and improving the inefficiencies in their process by getting synchronous data on exact locations of a truck, helping reduce the idle time, and also ensuring quick response in the event of an incident or breakdown while on the road. This information in-turn gives businesses key operational insights that help them in scheduling the delivery of materials, optimizing warehouse capacities and even planning shipping cycles.

  • ENHANCE EFFICIENCY

The best part about tracking systems is that they give you insight not only into what is being done wrong but also what is being done right. 

With the help of GPS tracking systems like the MA Hardwired Silver, fleet managers as well as the company that owns the goods can track the movement of their assets on a real-time basis and even get information about the driver’s efficiency, the best routes, and least idling vehicles. This information can then be used to make the next transport cycle more efficient or to recognize a driver for a job well done!

In addition to this, fleet owners have reported that truckers whose vehicles were tracking enabled have shown an increased sense of ownership and responsibility towards their jobs and are lesser likely to go off-course during transit. The tracking system not only helps the drivers to better understand their task and the required results but also gives them an opportunity to self-correct and improve at their jobs without having to be micro-managed. 

The end result is productive employees, quicker deliveries, and rising profits! Who doesn’t want that?

  • REDUCE COSTS

A fleet tracking system helps monitor every move (or no movement, for that matter) of the assets at all times. But how does this help reduce costs?

It is quite simple. For one, a vehicle that is just sitting in the garage or warehouse is an investment that is not making money. When a company has a clear view of its entire fleet of trucks, they can plan their shipping more effectively.

The other aspects come in to play when a vehicle is in transit. A good tracking device will feed the observer data like fuel efficiency or the time spent idling with the engine on. This information can help companies put a stop to fuel wastage and reduce the cost of transportation. Advances in tracking technologies have also made it possible to track driver behavior—to monitor, for example, how frequently the driver hits the brakes and at what speeds—so that companies can understand the patterns of wear and tear of tyres, break-pads and engines to plan vehicle servicing or even pull-up a driver for rash driving.

Tracking also helps identify vehicles that go out of designated areas or those that are caught for speeding or other traffic violations, thereby helping companies put an end to these practices—reducing the expenses and adding a ton of money to their profits instead! 

  • AVOID PRODUCT MISPLACEMENT AND GREY MARKETING

Once goods leave a warehouse, their safe passage and delivery to their final destination are the responsibility of the trucker and the fleet owner. But the roads are full of dangers; sometimes unforeseen and at other times, deliberate. 

By tracking both live and historic data, fleet managers can catch and eliminate suspicious uses of their vehicles by employees. For goods owners, GPS tracking of third-party distribution channels and micro-tracking of goods from the origin to their destination provides visibility into fleet operations, dispatch and arrival timings and even route analytics. Thus, helping managers avoid surprises and streamline the flow of products to reduce waste, misplacements and delays.

The use of superior tracking technologies allows fleet owners and company managers to get custom notifications for events like vehicles driving away from their allocated area or spending unscheduled downtime at a particular spot. This not only helps the fleet owners get their trucks back on the designated road quicker but also prevents the goods from being redirected to unorganized or grey markets instead of their planned destination. 

These features are even more useful in times of pandemics like COVID-19 when the uninterrupted supply of things like medicines, medical equipment and even essentials like food is of paramount importance. During such times, underground dealers might be looking to hoard medical supplies or food products. A fleet carrying these goods might easily get redirected to these marketplaces before reaching its official destination and end-up not supplying the essentials where they were intended to be. But a robust tracking system can prevent such a situation and ensure the safety of the goods and timely delivery of all assets. 

  • AVOID PAPER LOGS

Modern fleet tracking solutions transform complicated daily operations into hassle-free click-of-a-button tasks. Right from scheduling jobs to tracking the deliveries and asset quality, it can all be done on a computer or handheld screen. 

This change is helping companies fast-track operations by eliminating time consuming paper logs. Electronic logs provide in-depth insights and also ease the hassle of vehicle and fuel tax calculations and audits, optimizing resources by reducing dependency on manual labor and the factors of human errors in data entry and analytics.

  • DELIVER ON TIME

Every business wants to be certain about receiving and delivering their goods on time. That is why future-ready companies are turning toward in-time tracking and intelligence tools for gaining visibility of their inventory, whether stationary or in transit. 

Advanced GPS tracking systems help organizations monitor everything from the speed to the movement of goods from warehouse to the shop floor and eventually to their customers. 

Modern tracking tools that are used to provide real-time ETAs are helping companies by improving customer experience, minimizing the impact of unexpected delays, speeding-up inventory turnover, and increasing their bottom lines. Happy customer-Happy Business! 

We have seen so far that the benefits of GPS enabled tracking are immense. But how does this specifically help business in a world riddled with COVID-19?  

We cannot argue that one of the obvious consequences of the COVID-19 is the economic shock to companies—both large and small—but progressive leaders will see that it can also change the way businesses will function in the future. Any company that hopes to ride this wave (or even survive it) will have to be forward-looking and build learning, technology, and flexibility in their future plans.

It must be noted that in these times of economic uncertainty, bottom lines can benefit from technology only if businesses force themselves to evolve first. The COVID-19 crisis has made most businesses acutely aware of the challenges and trade-offs that affect their increasingly complex, competitive and often vulnerable supply chains. A future-ready leader will understand that at any point in time, a supply chain that is backed by GPS tracking technologies stands a better chance of optimizing processes, staying lean, managing costs, and perhaps most critically, responding instantaneously to even minor fluctuations in market conditions or demand. 

When it comes to using technologies like GPS tracking for optimizing processes as well as navigating the new tools and best practices for supply chain management, the time to do it is NOW because the new world is ‘Living Digital’ and every business must be a part of it. 

One of the most exciting opportunities for the merger of digital tracking and supply chain can be seen in the massive uptick in the demand for delivery services: be it home-delivery services or business-delivery services during the novel virus crisis. One can argue that some of that demand will subside in the wake of the crisis, but surely not all of it.

E-commerce and digital platforms have been adding millions of new users to their database—these could be people who have only recently discovered the benefits of going digital or people who have perhaps resigned to the fact that e-commerce is the new way of life or even be people who are in it for the sake of convenience and will continue to do so even in the post COVID-19 world. Add to this, the number of people who will continue purchasing online simply because of lingering concerns about their health and safety should they step out to buy groceries or sit in a restaurant to enjoy dinner.

The shift toward online purchases coupled with demand for onsite delivery is changing consumption patterns around the world—and yes, it requires a rapidly evolving supply system and tracking technology to fulfil its demands.

The COVID-19 virus has also generated a surge in the demand for public healthcare and medical infrastructure—presenting large-scale business opportunities that can benefit by leveraging the strengths of GPS tracking and an efficient supply change. The requirements for continual supply chains of critical medical-care equipment such as masks, ventilators, testing kits, laboratory equipment, and even medicines can be greatly helped with robust tracking to meet the high demands and ensure that the right assets reach the right destinations in a timely manner and without damage.

The novel COVID-19 virus has propelled tracking into almost every business’s routine. In the freight and trucking industry itself, businesses that have been investing in GPS tracking technologies are seeing smoother transitions into remote working scenarios.

Just think about it… When it comes to tracking or even checking vehicles in a lockdown and social distancing scenario, lesser mobility of people means lesser ability to physically check the assets yourself. Lockdowns and work from home orders may mean that your staff may not be able to come to work and therefore may not be available to check the assets either. In such times, businesses that have implemented tools allowing remote access and GPS tracking of vehicles are able to function and perform at a much higher rate than the companies that spend their time trying to access their sites and get relevant data from them.

Today, companies whose supply chains and operations are not backed by GPS technologies are struggling, while businesses that are tech-ready are profiting by:

  • Getting the power of live data to make informed and in-time decisions.
  • Increasing the accountability and responsibility of staff by providing them information online and being in touch with them remotely.
  • Eliminating the dependency on manual and paper logs.
  • Automating record keeping for planning and audits.
  • Reducing instances of human error in tracking and record keeping.
  • Lowering the dependence on manual labor on-site.
  • Accessing data any time and from anywhere through remote servers.
  • Speeding tasks and therefore increasing the number of jobs completed by employees.
  • Checking fuels costs by ensuring assets follow pre-planned schedules and are utilized to the best of their capacity.
  • Cutting the carbon footprint of the company by optimizing all resources.
  • Inspecting the machine’s health, engine temperature, fuel level etc. despite being at a different location.
  • Tracking movements and ETAs and correcting them to avoid delays.
  • Keeping a check on vehicle misuse.
  • Receiving alerts for issues such as vehicles entering restricted areas or dropping goods at unscheduled stops.
  • Ensuring on-time deliveries to and from the warehouse.

Beyond comprehensive visibility into vehicle operations, GPS service providers often come with the added attraction of robust management tools that are useful for enabling fleets to complete more jobs in less time. Companies can also have the advantage of insightful, in-time information from the data-rich reports provided by the GPS tools to improve operational efficiency. At the same time features like the dispatch tools, real-time traffic monitoring, and route analytics can help operators boost their own performance and that of their vehicles too. Likewise, customizable alerts (such as incident occurrences, being pulled-over by a cop, jumping a red light, or stopping for too long at an unplanned location) and route analytics tools also help fleet managers improve driver productivity and fuel efficiency.

Interestingly, owing to the COVID-19 situation, perks of GPS tracking technologies are also gaining recognition in social welfare spaces. Tech giants of the world are utilizing GPS platforms to build apps that can be installed by citizens on any device and once the user opts to get tracked, the app acts like a map to assist the user in the tracking COVID-19 infected individuals around them. These apps not only show the location of the positive tested people but also their movement and the change in percentage of the cases per geography.

It is increasingly evident that technologies that are enabling rapid gathering or live information sharing are the way of the future. It does not matter then whether you are an individual with a cell phone or a company with millions of dollars at stake.  

How Automated Supply Chain Solutions can Assist Commercial Freight Carriers and Customers?

Key Takeaways:

  • 1. Why do we need automated solutions?
  • 2. Benefits of a holistic supply chain solution
  • 3. Organizational Pain Point- Reduced Visibility
  • 4. Organizational Pain Point- Degraded Product Condition
  • 5. Organizational Pain Point- Mismanaged Product Returns
  • 6. Designing a Mitigation Plan
  • 7. Conclusion-Automation is the Future

Digitized and automated supply chain solutions are considered assets to commercial freight carriers. Besides streamlining the movement of goods, shipment visibility, and other aspects of commercial whereabouts, these solutions are also pretty effective in minimizing the covid-19 induced threats. However, it is the adaptability and affordability that comes across as major concerns for most commercial carriers and truckers.

The automated supply chain solutions are feature-packed and completely validated when it comes to offering risk mitigation attributes to the carriers, customers, and even brokers. The existing set of services also helps increase overall productivity while minimizing costs courtesy of reduced wastage.

Why do we need automated solutions?

Starting from the point at which the freight is loaded to the point where the customer receives it, it is necessary to keep a remote eye of the vehicle and certainly the products. Be it tracking the vehicle safety or the physical condition of the concerned commercial driver, effective solutions make sure that accidents and other mishaps are avoided. Not just that, companies need tools to continually monitor the product conditions, in order to check for viability, temperature, and hygiene.

Most importantly, the automated solutions make it easier for the truckers and associated companies to maintain on-spec quality assurance besides improving the operational efficiencies in the best possible way. The best thing about a holistic supply chain solution is that is also allows customers to track the warehouse and storage activities, especially when they look for safety assurance during the pandemic.

Perks of having a Fully Automated Supply Chain Solution

Before we delve into the details and additional benefits of a fully automated supply chain management solution, we need to ascertain a tool that amalgamates GPS tracking, diverse visibility features, better interactive options between the drivers and customers.

To start with, a fully automated and well-rounded platform increases visibility. It means that while customers can get a complete picture of the activities that are happening at the yard, gate, or even the warehousing dock, the carriers can constantly monitor the vehicle and the associated freight throughout the journey.

The benefits do not end with increased shipment visibility and tracking. Instead, a complete digital suite makes sure that product returns, refusals, and revaluations are also handled with precision.

In the next few sections, we shall look at the pain points of the commercial freight carrying industry, including truckers and which areas would the supply chain solutions help fix, especially when we move into the post covid-19 era.

Reduced Shipment and Carrier Visibility

Lack of visibility is the biggest organizational bottleneck, especially when freight management is concerned. Issues crop up as soon as the product is stored in the warehouses or starts getting loaded onto the trucks. Not just that, during the pandemic where social distancing is a norm, carrier visibility at the pit stops and welcome centers is also an aspect that needs to be taken into account. Random visits and accumulation of drivers can put them at the risk of getting infected.

There are truckers who still keep manual logs which hinder the overall process and decreases the productivity. Moreover, once the shipment leaves the facility, the carriers and managers are mostly blindsided and only rely on the drivers to rely vital information to them. In case of sudden issues like roadblocks, detention, and inclement weather conditions, it becomes impossible to the carriers to know the status of the trucks or connect with the customers to convey information.

Products stored into the warehouses require monitoring. However, manual systems aren’t capable enough when it comes to offering continued visibility. Manual tracking depends on the workforce and it becomes tedious for them to check on every product before dispatching.

Lack of an automated solution, therefore, increases operational costs, dwell time, demurrage while hampering asset utilization.

Degraded Product Condition

With the pandemic hitting the commercial vehicle industry hard enough, the onus will be on the truckers to take good care of the freight. Most of the carriers find it hard to monitor the physical condition of the associated products. Drivers get down at select stops and check for the sanctity of the freight which isn’t enough if there are perishable goods inside.

When the products stays locked in for a considerable period of time, it tends to disintegrate, provided proper care isn’t taken during the course of the journey. Freight that isn’t monitored increases operational costs and significantly reduces carrier productivity. With truckers envisioning a new future post covid-19, it is necessary for them to abide by the host of FSMA guidelines. Adhering to the Sanitary Compliance is and will be a major guideline, going into the future.

Increased and Mismanaged Product Refusals and Returns

Firstly, if the freight isn’t taken care of, chances of refusals at the customer end increases. Therefore, it is important to take the second pain point into account and work towards improving the same. Moreover, even if the products are to be returned, the interactions between the customers and carriers must be seamless enough.

Lack of approval mechanism and proper logistical support means that the returns and product refusals are quite hard to deal with. In most of the existing scenarios, returns mean massive losses to the carriers with a cascading number of cancelled shipments. The returns take a lot of time to process which slows down the drivers and they fail to reach other pickup or delivery points in time.

Apart from that, even the customer-business relationships get strained, in case of returns and refusals. Carriers are often confused as how to deal with the return and refusal requests which eventually decreases the productivity costs.

How to Structure a Proper Mitigation Plan?

Having a holistic and digitized supply chain solution can work upon the mentioned organizational pain points.

Dealing with Visibility

Automated solutions can help carriers by improving visibility across different stages of the journey. For example, everything gets logged and monitored the moment the trucks leave the facility and the shipments are delivered. The automation platform offers accessibility to the drivers and workers at warehouses who can monitor and mark the products as shipped, the moment the freight leaves the facility. Another good way to go about the process is to use electronically efficient Vypin RE seals which allow carriers to track and tag the shipments with ease. A digitized tool streamlines the check-in and even the vehicle checkout process. In addition to that, it makes sure that the carriers can get actionable data to work with. With analytics available, it is easier to calculate the average dwell time, waiting time, and delivery time, before targeting each for improving productivity.

Moreover, with drivers having access to the platform, they can track the volume of trucks waiting outside pit stops to defer the arrivals. This approach keeps them safe from the covid-19 induced infections.

If you are actually looking for automated solutions that can take the visibility worries out of the equation, opting for credible firms like e4Score is the best way to go. Some of the more relevant feature-sets include:

  • Significantly lower operational costs
  • Increased utilization of assets
  • Minimal dwell time
  • Proper identification of pit stops
  • Improved HOS standards
  • Unified platform for diverse shipments
  • Improved vehicle security
  • 360-degree carrier-customer-driver collaboration
  • Real-time data analysis

Dealing with Product Condition

Automated solutions make sure that the freight is constantly monitored in facilities and vehicles where the temperature compliance is adhered to. This flexibility allows carriers and customers to trace the product temperature and assess the hygiene levels based on video broadcasting support, if available. Most importantly, as the interface is strictly automated, the temperature and quality fluctuations at certain points of the journey get recorded automatically.

Here are some of the other perks of having an automated product monitoring platform:

  • Auto alerting mechanism if the product conditions start deteriorating
  • Automatic record keeping
  • Temperature, location, and record compliance for all the involved parties
  • Compliance with sanitary regulations

Dealing with Returns and Refusals

Carriers can simplify the return-refusal process by using the automated supply chain solution. The process can be simplified if the carriers have automated tools and decision making options at their disposal. For instance, if the customers want to return or refuse the product before arrival, they can place automated requests beforehand. The carriers can use the intelligent interface to identify the best course of action and make arrangements, accordingly.

In case the return costs are higher, ‘dump and destroy’ is a good way to go. Express Return and Refusal solutions are also great at generating documents and authorization slips faster than manual inclusions.

Some of the additional benefits include:

  • Assured RA compliance
  • Inclusion of Big Data and IoT-centric intelligence
  • Minimized costs during claims, returns, detentions, and refusals
  • Best-in-class authorization

Automation is the Future

As commercial carriers are slowly moving towards full time operations with businesses resuming in the country, it is necessary for them to adopt automated and digitized solutions for staying ahead of the competition. Evolution is the name of the game and in the post covid-19 era, it is necessary to make sure that all the aspects including visibility, hygiene, and customer experience, are taken care of, with digitized precision.

Not just that, despite automated supply chain management being an essential tool for most commercial freight carriers, nothing beats the usefulness of GPS tracking modules in commercial vehicles. Matrack is a GPS-centric platform that can track product quality, product returns, condition of fleet, and, remote equipment with considerable ease. Matrack is one organization that takes the entire fleet and cargo setup into account by offering adaptable and effective GPS solutions for the truckers. Services offered by Matrack are innovative, future-proof, and comprise of asset, fleet, and trailer tracking options.

Revisiting FMCSA’s Safety And Security Priorities Amid Global Crisis

Key Takeaways:

  • Requirement of FMCSA Guidelines
  • Why to Revisit the FMCSA Achievements?
  • Safety Protocols
  • Role of Technology
  • GPS Tracking and Smart Video Solutions
  • Interactive Road Safety Module for the Truckers to Implement

The existing global crisis isn’t going anywhere but individuals and businesses must learn to live with the same, in order to sustain themselves, in the short and long run. With the US government on the verge of reopening several businesses to keep the economic activities intact, the movement of commercial vehicles is expected to resume, sooner than expected.

However, the post-covid19 era isn’t going to be the same. With the trucking industry taking a massive hit due to this catastrophic setback, it is time to consider certain pre-existing aspects before resuming operations.

Why the Commercial Vehicle Industry required Safety Guidelines in the First Place?

Commercial vehicle industry includes trucks, trailers, vans, and other entities that carry products from one point to the other. However, based on extensive surveys, almost 81 percent individuals are of the mind that commercial vehicle drivers show dangerous driving habits. While these trends were mostly synonymous to 2019, we expect the scenarios to persist even when the truckers and other commercial vehicles start plying post covid19 lockdown.

Commercial vehicle drivers are trying to fit in extensive working hours as most truckers pay them by the hour. The willingness to drive fast often leads to accidents, and this is why the FMCSA brought in the guidelines in the first place.

Moreover, with almost 69 percent of highly strollers known to witness speeding commercial trucks, it was a matter of time that certain guidelines came into existence.

Why Recapping of Safety Priorities is Necessary?

As mentioned, things will change once the US government lifts the extensive lockdown. However, after almost a two-month hiatus for certain fleets, it is quite difficult to get back onto the road, from a mental perspective.

Truckers are having hard time to sustain their workforce. Moreover, drivers are not getting paid adequately and tapping into their savings. Therefore, once they start working, concentrating will not be easy. The erratic mental state of the drivers might result in accidents as drivers will look to compete with others, in order to deliver additional freight.

Government’s Initiative to Concentrate on Safety

According to FMCSA or ‘Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’, it is necessary to improve road safety standards, in order to minimize collisions and other unfortunate activities. Therefore, the guidelines made sure that truckers adhere to the safety norms. While the achievements came to existence in 2019, they are more relevant now.

Based on the recent turn of events, the existing FMCSA guidelines aim at promoting safety, offering safety funding, keeping the trucking job opportunities alive, and even lowering the regulations which create burden on the trucking industry!  

Each one of these initiatives focuses on the post-covid19 scenario.

Here are some of the regulatory achievements of the FMCSA, keeping the safety standards in mind:

  • Funding of Critical Grants

This FMCSA achievement aims at offering grants to specific educational institutions and states. Here is one aspect that targets CMV safety with authorities allotting $77.3 million, for the same. Critical grants include HP grants amounting to $43.3 million and CDLPI grants of up to $32 million. These grants will surely come in handy once the lockdown ends and fleets are free to carry freight, across the states.

  • Newer Technologies

Commercial vehicles require technological infusion to stay relevant to the existing landscape. FMCSA aims at adding newer technologies into the mix for reducing the chances of collisions and mishaps during fleet movements.  While the inclusion of Automated Driving Systems is a decent idea, keeping the current scenario in mind, certain truckers can also include video monitoring, in the mix. A good way to keep up with the industry changes is by including GPS tracking into the mix.

  • Increasing Awareness

At the end, it all comes down to the bus safety and truck-centric awareness. FMCSA has already partnered with numerous organizations to perpetuate a sense of road-based awareness. This includes teaching drivers about the industry standards, safety regulations, and other aspects of harmonious sustenance. Apart from that, the ‘Voice of Safety’ movement was introduced way back in 2019, in order to offer educational videos and campaign related awareness programs to the industry leaders, drivers, and other commercial participants.

  • Helping Individuals with Jobs

Here is more of a sustenance policy which aims at job security for the commercial drivers. Apart from the driving workforce, anybody who is even remotely associated with the trucking sector can benefit from this FMCSA regulation. One aspect involves an effort to upgrade the commercial licenses from Class B to the more productive Class A. Allotted funds for the same amount to $18 million, each year.

  • Targeting the HOS log

FMCSA realized that most accidents occur when drivers aren’t at ease and thinking about the ‘Hours of Service’ or HOS. With truckers paying drivers on the basis of HOS log, it is bound to create a sense of competition among the drivers. This factor isn’t good according to the road safety standards. FMCSA authorities make sure that there are multiple HOS regulations in play with almost $274 million backing up the same.

  • Backing Military Members

FMCSA aims at recognizing the efforts of the US military services allowing individuals to operate trucks provided they have the licenses equivalent to the CDL. This approach makes sure that members from the military get ample professional opportunities. While this approach doesn’t cater to the safety standards directly, it aims at offering job support to a select group.

  • Improving Underlining Regulatory Efficiency

FMCSA reforms aren’t new. They have been around for long and account for almost $366 million. The newest set of guidelines and standards, introduced in 2019, aim at improving the regulatory efficiency, by taking all the aspects into account. These include the introduction of the training regulations for the Entry-Level commercial drivers, HOS proposals, and more.

The Role of Technology in Commercial Vehicle Industry

Commercial vehicles need to be regulated. Furthermore, the pandemic and associated lockdowns have driven the US economy to the nadir with non-essential truckers feeling most of the heat. Therefore, if FMCSA is seriously reconsidering all the mentioned regulations and safety standards, relevant to the FMCSA safety score, it must first include ample technological innovations into the mix.

  • GPS Tracking

The time is right to include EDL or even GPS tracking into the mix. A good thing about GPS fleet tracking is that truckers can use the same to ascertain the location of the drivers and the freight in general. When it comes to streamlining the commercial vehicle industry, it is necessary to bring in some additional eyes into the mix. This factor takes the GPS tracking into account.

A good thing about GPS tracking on commercial vehicles is that they can easily allow truckers to follow the location of the vehicle while braving inclement weather situations. The best case scenario here is to use a tracking system and safeguard trailers and commercial vehicles from accidents and mishaps.

  • Smart and Effective Video Solutions

Another intuitive technology is the inclusion of smart, efficient, and productive video solutions. Based on real-time surveys, almost 42 percent of respondents believe that having something like a dash cam can easily prevent road accidents. To simplify things further, video solutions are preferred by most truckers as they test the drivers on a regular basis while even screening them before hiring.

These video solutions also help firms lay down rules and regulations based on the existing and probabilistic driving practices.

The Complete Safety Module for the Post-Covid19 Scenario

Apart from the standardized FMCSA regulations, individual truckers must concentrate and bring in safety modules for controlling the number of accidents. Road safety will become a major concern for the government in the coming years as the commercial vehicle drivers will try to outwit each other for increase HOS.

The complete safety module must include the following aspects:

  • Driver Distraction Quotient

This aspect takes the psychological factors into account and considers hiring the drivers on the basis of certain personality tests.

  • Driver Health

Medical checkups need to be conducted on a daily basis to eliminate health based threats.

  • Hours of Service

The payment scenario must change in order to cut down on the competitive streak and even road rage.

  • Driver Fatigue Levels

This aspect is directly proportional to the HOS. Companies must make sure that drivers do not end up working relentlessly. The priority should be to minimize fatigue and measure the levels of drowsiness before starting a journey.

  • Road Sharing Guide

The interactive module should aim at teaching the drivers more about road sharing with the fellow professionals.

  • Safety Systems

Proper knowledge regarding the video monitoring solutions and GPS tracking essentials is also necessary when it comes to ascertaining a detailed educational module about road safety.

With the US economy slowly coming out of the worst-ever crisis, it is time to channelize the strength of the commercial vehicles for kickstarting manufacturing, retail, and other businesses. However, during this period of extreme professionalism and competition, it is necessary to keep the road safety standards into account, while following the FMCSA guidelines in every possible manner. The entire commercial vehicle industry must concentrate on following the FMCSA standards and protocols while teaching drivers regarding the existing guidelines. Including driver safety incentive programs could reap incredible benefits too.

That said, truckers can always opt for credible security standards and solutions in Matrack; a company that aims at streamlining and securing fleet, drivers, and the freight in general. Based on the guidelines laid down by FMCSA, technology needs to play a pivotal role in guaranteeing safety for the vehicles and the drivers behind the wheel. Matrack takes care of all the requirements with robust, scalable, and weatherproof GPS solutions for every trucker who wants to make it big in the post-covid19 era.