There may not be a better time in the history of the U.S. trucking industry for companies to digitize their operations, no matter how large or small they are.
Cloud-based technologies for transportation companies, which have tended to put off IT investments due to concerns over cost and complicated integrations, are rapidly driving down systems infrastructure price tags and are much easier for trucking companies to deploy.
“There is great opportunity across the board for trucking to embrace and adopt technology overall,” Danny Lilley, vice president of product design and engineering at Werner Enterprises (NASDAQ: WERN), told Travis Rhyan of FreightWaves during the FreightWaves LIVE @HOME event on Thursday.
“It’s difficult for these smaller organizations to build some of these solutions, but there’s more and more options and opportunities out there to purchase this technology,” Lilley said.
Rhyan noted that U.S. trucking operations could benefit from easy and cheap to implement cloud-based transportation management systems, even those small operators with six or less trucks, which represent more than 90% of the commercial fleet.
Lilley said the integration of cloud-based trucking technologies, which has been accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic, gives all-size truckers “a lot of opportunity to leverage data better and to operationalize that data across the board.”
Werner is driving deep into implementing cloud-based technologies this year and next, Lilley said.
“For every major, foundational back-office piece — from HR to finance to our transportation management system — we’re looking at modernizing and upgrading those platforms,” Lilley said.
Earlier this year, the company launched Werner EDGE to improve its driver experience and telematics. The IT initiative also includes cloud-based critical event and breakdown management solutions.
Werner has so far integrated EDGE across 90% of its fleet. “That gives drivers a modern tablet, a modern solution that they can use with automated workflows,” Lilley said.
Next year, Werner will increase its attention to creating cloud-based IT solutions for both drivers and shippers. Lilley said the goal for the company is to develop solutions that allow it to “embrace this digital marketplace.”
For Werner’s drivers, “every piece of technology that our drivers interact with, we want to make sure that it’s seamless, simple for them to use, that we take out a lot of the redundancy and waste,” Lilley said.