Essential goods–including food and medication–are flying off supermarket shelves within hours of being restocked across the United States. The coronavirus pandemic has prompted people to buy in bulk as they hunker down for longer-than-normal stretches at home. As shoppers eagerly await the next toilet paper delivery, it has become more important than ever for shippers, brokers and truck drivers to work together seamlessly behind the scenes.
All eyes are on the supply chain right now, and that makes relatively commonplace tools like shipment tracking applications and other visibility measures paramount. Drivers, however, have historically been hesitant to download tracking apps due to privacy concerns and “app overload.”
This is especially true if drivers do not have a company-issued or company-paid phone, according to Leonard’s Express Vice President of Logistics Troy Wiitanen.
“No matter what, there will be skeptics out there when it comes to information gathering. We’re only using the data for tracking shipments, but drivers are not necessarily in on our internal conversations, so they may not realize that,” Wiitanen said. “We’ve seen a consistent increase in accepted tracking requests over the past six months. We believe this is occurring because of our consistent dialogue about our expectations.”
Being transparent about what shippers expect and exactly how data is being used can help drivers become more comfortable with tracking. That is especially important during the pandemic.
“At this time, the shippers are requiring greater visibility because there’s such attention being given to the freight they’re trying to get out the door,” Kingsgate Logistics Senior Vice President of Strategy and Innovation Tom Curee said.
Curee does not believe visibility should be a one-way street, though. While shippers demand shipment tracking, drivers should also be provided with a more transparent and data-driven view of the shipment.
“Everyone wants to shout about visibility in regards to the location of the truck, but what about visibility for the driver to be able to execute on the shipment they’re handling?,” Curee said. “That’s why we’ve taken steps this year to increase the amount of data in the Trucker Tools app so drivers have everything they truly need at their fingertips.”
Kingsgate and Leonard’s Express have both partnered with Trucker Tools to increase carrier tracking compliance and provide better visibility to shippers. Trucker Tools’ Smart Capacity tool provides brokers with real-time data and facilitates load tracking from beginning to end. It works in conjunction with the Trucker Tools driver app.
The Trucker Tools driver app–which has been downloaded by nearly 900,000 drivers–does more than just facilitate tracking. It provides drivers with useful information like parking and rest stop availability, truck stop hours and diesel prices. These insights have become even more important to drivers as the coronavirus pandemic has prompted some truck stops to alter their hours or cut dining and shower services altogether.
By providing added value to drivers instead of simply tracking their movements, Trucker Tools has lowered the barrier to entry for more skeptical drivers.
“Today, there are 2.2 million apps available on the Apple App Store and 2.8 million on the Google Play Store,” Curee said. “Providing more than just a ‘tracking device’ is important because we want to provide value. Trucker Tools app makes that easy by giving them a number of apps to help run a more profitable business.”
Shippers, brokers and drivers are all navigating an unprecedented situation. Still, improved communication and multi-purpose apps can go a long way in increasing shipment visibility, pandemic or no pandemic.