Logistics software keeps effects of fluctuating economy at bay

Companies that specialize in moving freight throughout the U.S. can maintain industry competitiveness by integrating warehouse distribution software into their daily procedures. Economic conditions have fluctuated over the last several years in ways that make it difficult for fleet owners to make clear decisions about their operations. Many organizations are itching to expand; however, most people are simply waiting for the right moment.

According to a recent article from the U.S. News and World Report, a large number of factors have led many economists to anticipate that 2014 will be an especially strong year for many businesses. For example, most sectors of the economy are well beyond the initial recovery phase of the Great Recession that rattled companies starting in the latter half of 2007. Additionally, the domestic energy industry has skyrocketed ever since 2005. Today, production in this sector of the economy is 40 percent higher than it was at that time.

Fleets are expanding capacity
These trends suggest ground transportation business may find themselves more active in the coming months. In fact, Commercial Carrier Journal cited data from the latest Transport Capital Partners (TCP) survey that found a large majority of shipping firms have plans to increase carrying capacity in the near future. Most industry experts anticipated the recent hours-of-service regulations imposed by the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would significantly limit overall utilization of equipment at most businesses. However, the number of organizations reporting that they are, in fact, reducing shipping capacity has continued to decline over the last several months. That measurement is now at 27 percent, its lowest level in the history of the survey.

Noel Perry, senior consultant for freight transportation firm FTC, told the online publicationLogistics Management that the overall impacts of the current state of the economy and the HOS regulations have yet to be fully understood.

"With the exception of the third quarter of 2013, the economy has not truly accelerated in the last couple of years, and the multipliers on GDP that produce truck freight are relatively low, and the combination of a relatively slow economy relatively low multipliers indicate trucking will grow between 2-3 percent [in 2014] on a base case," Perry explained.

Technology makes it easier to achieve growth goals
Still, the TCP report suggests transportation businesses are more ready than ever before to start expanding their operations. Thirty percent of carriers even said they expect to increase capacity by anywhere from 6 to 10 percent. While larger firms are the ones mostly expected to boost their operations, small and medium-sized fleets can also find new ways to improve the speed of their deliveries by investing in advanced logistics software. The managers of these firms often face a variety of obstacles on a daily basis. For example, attempting to take on a larger number of shipments can make it harder to organize the dispatch process at regional warehouses and depots. Most managers have to resort to keeping track of this information manually as opposed to using an automated electronic system. Trucking dispatch software eliminates small inefficiencies in a way that adds up to large savings in the long run.

Even though the performance of the U.S. economy has been unpredictable from quarter to quarter, fleet owners don't necessarily have to wait for the perfect moment to start expanding their operations. In fact, the right trucking software tools essentially enable businesses to experience real growth without the need to spread resources too thin or overwork employees. Technology becomes a valuable supplement to the daily responsibilities of any fleet.