18th August 2021

Five ways the digitisation of fleets will benefit the haulage industry

Data has always been a vital factor for logistics businesses. But using analytics to interpret, understand and improve existing systems and processes is becoming increasingly commonplace, and now is the time for the haulage industry to get involved.

By digitising processes, the industry can step into the future, mimicking the successful implementation that we already see in other sectors. For example, banking services have become increasingly digital-centric, supermarkets use a range of digital innovations to improve the customer experience, and healthcare services are moving towards video calls and apps for support and consultations.

In a society where digital has permeated so many aspects of life and work, its adoption in process-driven industry environments is almost inevitable. Digital transformation of the haulage industry is a significant step towards improving efficiency, helping to optimise workloads and providing a range of benefits for the sector - all at a time when the Brexit / COVID-19 combination has brought some of the biggest challenges into sharp focus.

Mandata’s recent survey about the positives of digitisation shows concern about the size of the transition. But many of those who have switched are already seeing benefits, and we have compiled a list of five ways digital will positively impact the haulage industry: 

Saving management time

A key benefit of switching to digital is the efficiency savings from implementing a transport management system for organising workloads and reducing the amount of time spent on manual processes.

Mandata’s survey found that 55% of customers had reduced the time spent on manual job entries by 10 hours a week by moving into digital management. The ability to complete those essential tasks while freeing up valuable time for other tasks demonstrates how effective digitised fleet management can be.

Driver welfare

Establishing a digital system opens a range of possibilities, and data sorting is just a part of what it can do. Analysing data can help identify bottlenecks and flag issues in the chain so problems can be dealt with - minimising the impact on drivers in terms of workload and hours.

The most efficient routes can be calculated and provided to the driver, ensuring that time on the road is as well planned and logical as possible - saving fuel costs, environmental impact and easing pressure on drivers. 

Vehicle automation

When most people think of tech and the future of the haulage industry, automated vehicles are often part of the conversation. As highlighted in our ‘Truck parks of the future ’ piece, self-driving HGVs will become increasingly common in the next few years, with testing and development already happening across the UK. One of the most high-profile examples is the Government-backed Project Endeavour which has trialled in Birmingham and Oxford ahead of a showcase in Greenwich in August 2021.

The use of autonomous vehicles can make city deliveries simpler, with eco-friendly delivery solutions taking some of the burdens from human drivers and, in doing so, helping to ease the driver shortage. Combining self-driving vehicles and experienced human drivers gives the industry more flexibility in planning and potentially the ability to make more deliveries faster without increasing the pressure on staff. 

Automation for services

Automation is not limited to vehicles. The implementation of digital services can have benefits when providing access to smart payments for parking and truck stop services.

Without the need for human staff, drivers will be able to access any service they need at any time of the day. Through pre-booking and licence plate recognition, fleet operators can pay for services, tolls and parking in advance and from one place. Digitalisation means drivers will not need to carry cash, which improves their safety and the convenience of using these services. 

Click here to find out more about SNAP Account and how our service can streamline fleet operations.

Integration of infrastructure

The ubiquitous implementation of the Internet of Things in domestic environments (smart homes, virtual assistants and fitness trackers) indicates how interconnectivity is where the ultimate benefits of digitisation will be felt.

While the examples of digitisation listed above show many benefits, integrating these factors can provide benefits greater than the sum of its parts. Management software will monitor stock and order information, creating optimised routes and, in turn, optimising the driver’s requirements to ensure that deliveries, rest, maintenance and refuelling are all accounted for in schedules.

With a wider scope, optimisations and efficiencies can be found at each step of the supply chain, with each slight adjustment culminating in marked improvements in efficiency and cost savings.

“Digitalisation provides the haulage industry with a great opportunity to reduce the time and resources spent on operational tasks, allowing for the optimisation of workflows and greater efficiency to help combat the challenges of the driver shortage. Said Mark Garner, Managing Director at SNAP. 

“While it may be a challenge to switch from known processes, the time efficiencies involved will quickly make a noticeable difference to businesses. Those who are slow to adopt digital processes will risk falling behind as the industry evolves. While it could take time for some companies to fully adjust, beginning the implementation of digital as soon as possible is likely to pay dividends.”

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