Proactive technology maintenance is key to keeping connected supply chain moving

  Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

From ELDs to automated yard management systems, technology has become more and more prevalent in every corner of the supply chain. While technology can make things more efficient when it works well, dysfunctional tech can lead to major headaches for everyone involved. That is where regular, preventative maintenance comes in.

It is easy to view technology as a hands-off solution to various issues and inefficiencies, but just installing devices and letting them run solo may not be the best course of action.

“Enterprise fleet technology is unlike consumer technology, in that consumer technology may be utilized simply for entertainment or education, but fleet technology serves a specific business purpose. When it isn’t working, that business purpose isn’t supported, which can result in significant negative ramifications for the business,” Velociti President Deryk Powell said. “For example, in-cab video systems have been heavily adopted by fleets for the significant positive impacts they have on safety. If there is an accident, and the video system is non-functioning at the time of the accident, the fleet is unable to leverage video for analysis of the issue, possibly exposing the fleet to unnecessary risks.”

Velociti is a technology deployment and support company working to bridge the gap between providers and consumers.

Not only does non-functioning technology fail to mitigate risk, it can also be illegal in the case of ELDs. The ELD mandate puts the burden on fleets to ensure the technology is working as intended, and this is likely to be the case with any new safety technology mandates adopted in the future.  

Technology has also become an integral part of keeping the supply chain moving, and a failure in one system can have a negative impact on everyone involved in any aspect of the chain.

“Fleet operations, both in terms of their rolling assets, as well as their facilities, comprise the foundation of the ‘connected supply chain’ world we live in today. In a connected supply chain, technology within any one of these fleet or facility areas provides information that impacts the others,” Powell said. “So, if for example, the Wi-Fi network or automated yard management system goes down, visibility is lost to what assets are in the yard, which creates a negative ripple effect on the fleet’s ability to effectively load and dispatch tractors and trailers.”

Neglecting technology in the age of e-commerce and fast delivery can have all-encompassing negative consequences, including increased legal risk, reduced efficiency and ultimately, reduced ability to win in a highly competitive marketplace, according to Powell.

He said a healthy technology maintenance program must be proactive, mobile, rapid, certified and transparent. He defined the terms in the following ways:

Proactive: The program must include the ability to monitor technology system health remotely, such that an issue can be discovered, addressed and resolved quickly, rather than waiting for employees to report an issue.

Mobile: It must be mobile, with respect to the rolling assets, because time is money to the fleet and the drivers, and it is incredibly costly for a fleet to have to send a driver out-of-route to facilitate a repair. An effective technology repair is ideally completed by mobile technicians traveling to the asset, to complete the repair without taking it off the road.

Rapid: Technology repairs must be completed as quickly as possible due to the negative impacts previously mentioned. An effective program will be based on an agreed upon time frame during which a repair will be completed.

Certified: Technology repairs must be completed by trained and certified technicians who have the proper replacement parts with them.

Transparent: An effective program must provide real-time visibility and updates between all parties, including the fleet, driver, technology solution vendor and technology maintenance vendor.

While initiating and maintaining a maintenance program with all the attributes listed above is key to keeping technology in top shape, employee training is also important.

“Effectively training employees on the use of new technology up front, as well as through refresher training throughout the life-cycle of technology is critical,” Powell said.

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Ashley Coker, Staff Writer

Ashley is interested in the opportunities and issues that arise at the intersection of law and technology. She is the primary contributor to the news site content. She studied journalism at Middle Tennessee State University and worked as an editor and reporter at two daily newspapers before joining FreightWaves. Ashley spends her free time at the dog park with her beagle, Ruth, or scouring the internet for last minute flight deals.