Watch Now

Weathering downturns with real-time visibility

Through technology, carriers can gain otherwise unattainable insight into equipment use

Image: Jim Allen (FreightWaves)

Whether or not the market is in a downturn depends on whom you ask, but one thing’s for sure: Increasing capacity isn’t easy. With fuel costs remaining high, and with equipment and workforce shortages, fleets are having to reassess their strategies.

“The cost to increase capacity is extremely high,” said Matt Harris, senior vice president of sales at PowerFleet, explaining that demand and capacity volatility pose serious challenges.

When a downturn seems imminent, private fleets and truckload carriers focus intensely on cost reduction to match their revenue. Harris added that it’s common to see carriers remove equipment, reduce operations or adjust their lanes to maximize profit.

Such constraints put extreme pressure on fleets to operate as efficiently as possible, making the most of what they already have until they can get their hands on new equipment, which could be many months to over a year later.

But often what you have just isn’t enough, as is the case with the capacity-constrained intermodal sector. Harris noted it’s been especially tight as newly acquired chassis are put into immediate and constant use.

“That’s been the case this past year and they still don’t have enough equipment to meet demand at the right place at the right time,” he said. “In fact, in a presentation during the recent Intermodal Association of North America Business Intermodal Operations, Safety & Maintenance Business Meeting, we saw that despite the number of  containers doubling in the last 10 years, the ratio of containers to chassis is 2-to-1. Container productivity is declining significantly due to slow street time and customer dwell.”

Through the market’s ups and downs, it’s hard to tell where exactly the industry is heading, but what’s certain is that carriers need stability now more than ever to keep pace with the increasing volatility and transportation spend.

And a growing number of carriers are finding such stability with PowerFleet’s real-time visibility solutions.

With PowerFleet, carriers gain an otherwise unattainable level of understanding about equipment use. Through predictive analytics and benchmarking technology, PowerFleet’s equipment utilization analytics make it easy to see where revenue is best being driven and where it could use improvement.

“Our goal is to deliver solutions that help them navigate both sides of the equation, whether it’s when freight demand is growing and there’s not enough capacity or the reverse where it’s getting soft,” Harris said. “I feel like we’re in both conditions; it really depends on the day.”

PowerFleet’s chassis and container tracking technology provides actionable insights not just into the location of assets, but their condition too.

“Is it available? Is it empty? Is it ready to return today?” Harris said of the questions that PowerFleet answers. He said confirming these updates manually is too labor-intensive.

Fleets equipped with these reliable insights can confidently decrease dwell time and speed up the velocity of their assets.

Confidence is a major determiner of success. And in this market, that’s what it’s all about.

Technology can’t replace intuition — nobody knows your company better than you do — but the right technology helps make sense of the complexities around us, providing assurance in times of great uncertainty.

Click for more FreightWaves content by Jack Glenn.

More from PowerFleet:

Amid high costs, carriers can find ways to do more with less

Improving retention: Drivers seek real-time information

Reefer capacity remains tight: How to optimize available trailers

Jack Glenn

Jack Glenn is a sponsored content writer for FreightWaves and lives in Chattanooga, TN with his golden retriever, Beau. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business.