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How trucking fleets use technology to keep moving amid hurricane season

Dynamic linehaul optimization is critical for fleets during hurricane season. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

This post was first published on October 20, 2020. It has been updated for the 2022 hurricane season.

Trucking is necessary to modern society — so it makes sense why it’s impervious to conditions like snow or hurricanes.

Today’s technology has made that even easier with algorithm-driven insights.

Freight movement involves different segments like planning, routing and execution teams to work in tandem, helping create efficient end-to-end logistics operations. To better understand how fleets anticipate weather disruptions, FreightWaves spoke with two Optym executives to learn more: Kory Harb, who is the director of linehaul solutions, and Raguram Venkatesan, who is the director of pickup and delivery trucking solutions.

Identifying terminals that will be impacted, and directing trucks to better alternatives

When faced with a hurricane and associated road closures, Harb said carriers identify potentially impacted terminals for their networks and use software to create contingency plans for loading around or away from the affected terminals.

“In this way, they can minimize disruptions to service in the most cost-effective and safest way possible,” he said. 

Drivers are informed beforehand and are assigned routes going through other parts of the city based on areas that may be impacted by a hurricane.

By combining real-time weather data and operational data, fleet managers and dispatchers can glean valuable insights that help them adapt quickly to disruption.

“Traditional routing softwares and legacy systems do not provide the level of detail that’s needed and so they resort to manually sifting through weather sites and driver feedback to make routing decisions on the fly,” said Venkatesan. 

Skipping loads that may not be urgent

In the context of linehaul operations planning, Harb pointed out that Optym’s clients used its services to identify direct loads that need to reach the affected hubs — and skip loads. This allows for reduced freight handling and is an efficient way to clear freight backed up by the weather. 

“Our network and optimization tools allow carriers to quickly reroute freight if needed and also see the impact on cost and service for different decisions,” said Harb. “This gives carriers information on how freight will be serviced with different routing options and can take into account that a service center is out of operation for a given period to properly model hurricane and other inclement weather behavior.”

A better alternative to spreadsheets and harried calls

In technology’s absence, planning would be a hassle during the hurricane season as it is worked out via spreadsheets and repetitive calls to drivers for gauging real-time conditions. 

On the contrary, route-optimization software is natively integrated with third-party weather data providers, which alert planners of impacted customers and automatically excludes them from the plan. Planners can also send bulk messages to fleet drivers on the road with safety instructions. Mobile interfaces can provide visual cues on what is in store for drivers to make informed decisions. 

“By adopting such technology, carriers can save time by planning for disruptions ahead of time and have contingency plans in place, while having visibility over costs incurred due to last-minute changes to plan. Such proactive measures and real-time alerts also improve driver safety,” said Venkatesan. 


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