Fleet managers who incorporate trucking software programs into their daily operations are able to do much more than simply reduce shipping times and limit overhead costs. The benefits of advanced technology in the freight industry extend far beyond internal operations. A company that manages transportation logistics often works closely with third-party retail organizations that depend on the ability to ship products to consumers in a timely manner. As a result, a high level of organization on the part of fleet managers can have a profound impact on entire industries unrelated to transportation.
How exactly does logistics software fit into the larger global economy?
Maintaining brand reputation among customers
Stolen cargo is a major issue in the transportation industry that can have resonating impacts across multiple industries. According to Fleet Owner, many retail companies experience significant brand damage as a result of shipments that are lost in transit. In fact, stolen goods are often resold in the consumer market. However, the lack of proper storage and transportation can make many of these products - especially pharmaceuticals and food items, in particular - unsafe.
"Take pharmaceuticals, for example, as most drugs are tracked by lot number," Don Hsieh, director of commercial and industrial marketing for Tyco International Security, told Fleet Owner. "If a load is stolen and the manufacturer fears it may be resold into the market, it may be forced to recall the entire lot of that particular drug - and that may cost multiples of the value of that single stolen load."
The food industry is also prone to safety issues related to stolen cargo. Fleet Owner cited a recent study from Freight Watch, an international transportation organization, that found food and beverages comprised 21 percent of all thefts between July and September of this year alone. Industry experts attribute this large percentage to the fact that foodstuffs are relatively easy to resell. However, much in the way pharmaceuticals can be damaged without proper storage, perishable items that re-enter the market may lead to foodborne illnesses. Consumers may fault the manufacturer for such occurrences, which can result in reduced profits in the long term.
Ensuring security across operational stages
Advanced freight management software can help transportation businesses better organize the many moving parts associated with cross-country shipments. A recent article from The Associated Press (AP) said cargo thieves are becoming more creative in finding ways to pull of large heists. For example, transportation agencies have reported incidents in which thieves pose as truckers and ultimately load shipments onto their own vehicles outside of the planned shipping schedule.
While this kind of theft may fall under the responsibility of fleet management companies, the consequences can still affect a large portion of the consumer market. The AP reported trucks are responsible for delivering 68 percent of all domestic shipments in the U.S. In addition to food and drug safety issues, stolen cargo can also result in price increases on the consumer end.
"In the end, the consumer winds up paying the toll on this," Keith Lewis, vice president of CargoNet, a theft-prevention network that provides information to the insurance industry, told the AP.
Despite these threats, logistics software can help fleet managers enhance safety throughout all steps of the shipping process. For example, the ability to automate truck dispatching and assign loads makes it easier for businesses to have a deeper understanding of where and when vehicles will be loaded and by whom.
With the help of advanced operational technology, managers can not only limit overhead costs, but they can also reduce travel times and ultimately generate more income in the long run. Additionally, retail organizations and third-party businesses can benefit from eliminating the risk of introducing damaged goods into the consumer marketplace.