Transport companies are under intense pressure, suffering from high fuel prices and rising costs. On 27 April 2012, transport and logistics group 1st Fleet was placed in administration. Long-established Beechey Carriers closed its doors 22 June 2012.
Some major changes are clearly taking place, and fundamental shifts in management thinking are required. The pressure comes from a perfect storm of legislation, changes in distribution customers, developments in ICT, and a slowing in the non-mining economy.
Legislation affecting the industry includes driver fatigue management, chain of responsibility issues,and occupational health and safety. Management has to ensure drivers are properly trained, that systems provide timely alerts when there is a possibility that a line might be crossed.
Many of the changes requested by customers are to do with the information surrounding freight. Customers now want transparency for their customers’s shipments and their customer support teams, requiring that shipments can be located at any stage of the delivery process. Many more customers are also asking for 100% POD – and as an email attachment, not as a faxed or scanned form.
The introduction of smart phones and tablets has marked the beginning of the end for PDA’s, and a new era of real-time reporting, relevant not just to the Operations Manager, but also HR, Safety Managers, vehicle maintenance, and business administration.
All this is happening at a time when much of the driver workforce is approaching retirement, leaving a major gap to be filled.
Transport customers can improve their freight costs, but it is no longer simply a question of getting the lowest price. Transport customers also need to be sure the business is going to survive; that it will have technology able to exchange data with their in-house systems; and that it has a proven ability to change as their needs change.