When it comes to modern innovations in supply chain management, a lot of focus is on technology within the manufacturing and point of sale elements of the supply chain. From automation in factories to inventory tracking in stores, there is a great deal that can be done within these areas to make supply chains more efficient than ever before.
In order for products to move from the manufacturing site to their point of sale many supply chains are reliant on the services of the shipping industry and this is where there are many challenges and opportunities to improve the efficiencies and reliability of the shipping fleets that keep the global supply chain moving. Let’s take a look at some of the ways we can increase the effectiveness of the industry.
Getting Vehicles On The Same Schedule
Any individual vehicle in a fleet can operate with near-optimal efficiency. But usually, for each one close to that point, there’s another that lags behind for one reason or another, or experiences an issue. This can be addressed, however, through modern automation in fleet vehicles.
As you may be aware, automated driving – or at least partially automated driving – has now become a reality on our roads. It will probably be a little while longer before full automation is possible, and entire fleets can operate on their own. Even now though, trucks with smart-driving features can be used to create more efficient fleets. It’s done via truck platooning, which was explained in the last edition of Supply Chain Outlook, don’t worry if you didn’t catch it, you can read it on the IoSCM blog – view the article here. In short, truck platooning utilises smart technology to link trucks in a group, with a driver in the front truck setting the pace and navigating while the rest of the platoon keeps pace. There are numerous benefits to this sort of system, but above all else platoons can operate on more exacting schedules with less fuel waste and general variance.
Wasting Fuel & Money with Idle Time
In the past, the best way for anyone managing a team to track idle time was either to estimate based on delivery times or to rely on drivers to record their own activity. These have always been unreliable methods (with many people choosing not to even attempt to monitor the activity), which means most shipping fleets wind up generating significant fuel waste (and thereby monetary waste) through idle time – sometimes without even realising it.
Now, however, tracking technology can help you to keep closer tabs on your fleet. A piece published by Verizon Connect detailed how this can be done as part of a piece on multiple fuel saving tips for businesses. Essentially, fleet management software can actually record idle time, which results in data that can be used to train drivers, minimise idle time, and thus cut back on the aforementioned waste.
Becoming Inefficient Due To Poor Navigation
Mobile apps and in-car navigation systems have made it easy for drivers everywhere to use navigation. While this is often very useful, if there are any minor imperfections in the route information provided by the navigation system this can lead to route inefficiencies which can quickly become costly when multiplied across a fleet of vehicles. To reduce the impact of such glitches, it is vital the fleet managers implement reliable navigation systems for their vehicles.
If you’re running an entire fleet and utilising advanced software, you may be equipped with a navigation system that has the capability to connect vehicles and manage routes for each of them. If this isn’t the case though, it’s a good idea to make sure that all of the vehicles under your control are making use efficient navigation systems. Whether that means a universal option like Google Maps, an alternative mobile app, or a dedicated navigation system from a company like Garmin or TomTom is up to you to decide, based on your own needs and experience, and where your routes are. But it’s worth taking the time to find out which system is most efficient, and which will provide the most support for your fleet of drivers.
Suffering from Poor Vehicle Upkeep
Some of the greatest inefficiencies in shipping fleets are ultimately the result of poor or sporadic maintenance. Anyone who’s ever owned a motor vehicle can appreciate the fact that as tedious or inconvenient as it may seem, preventative maintenance can make all the difference in avoiding nagging, costly issues.
The specific practices you need to put into place for your fleet may vary depending on the vehicles you operate and the demands placed on them. However, Lifehacker’s rundown of the basics that every vehicle needs is a helpful guide to start with. Scheduling regular inspections, oil changes, battery and tire checks, and spark plug replacements, at the very least, will keep your fleet in operating shape and help to avoid issues down the road.
While this list is certainly not exhaustive we hope it helps you to improve the efficiency of your shipping and delivery fleet to help you improve the overall success of your supply chain.
Exclusively written for ioscm.com By Janice Richards