So yesterday in this space, Gene Gander, VP of business development for the Americas at transportation software provider WiseTech Global, talked about how efficiency and productivity can actually cancel each other out in the freight world if one isn’t careful.
As part of that discussion, he believes one way to get efficiency and productivity to fall in line – to work hand in glove, so to speak – is by automating what he dubs the most “repetitive” tasks involved in moving freight; especially when it comes to data entry.
“If it’s worth doing three times, it’s worth not doing at all,” Gander (seen at right for a second day in a row) explained. “Ours is a process-driven industry. Every day, tasks are being repeated over and over, with varying degrees of manual or expert input.”
He thinks eliminating labor-intensive, repetitive, error-prone activities is always the best option when it comes to gaining BOTH efficiency and productivity.
“Again, if any task is worth doing three times – and that’s a worthwhile assessment in its own right – then it’s worth automating,” he stressed. “Taking two hours to create a single report for a client twice a year isn’t a priority for automation, and it won’t bring you a strong return. Instead, find a task that takes your staff thirty seconds eight times a day every day and has frequent rework implications down the chain, and then you’ll have found something worth improving.”
[Speaking of improving efficiency, there’s a new video out extolling the potential virtues of lengthening trailers in twin configurations to 33 ft., up from 28 ft. However, this a controversial issue, even within trucking circles.]
[OK, now back to Gene Gander.]
Even after combing through your operations, eliminating redundancies, and automating repetitive tasks, if jobs still remain that must be done via old-fashioned human effort, then at least find a way to accelerate it, he stressed.
“The technology to accelerate your human resources capability and gain productivity is out there,” Gander explained. “The more automation of everyday jobs that you can establish at the front end of your operations, the more availability you have to concentrate on personal interaction that adds commercial value to your business; allowing you to ‘humanize’ the exceptions and maintain margins.”
He pointed out this this is the central value proposition of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and transportation management system (TMS) offerings; that automation of repetitive data-heavy tasks are already “built-in.” It’s just a matter of switching it on.
“That way, hundreds of compliance and tracking databases can be reduced to one,” Gander stressed. “Then you can move to truly accelerating your productivity, not just gaining efficiency in isolated areas.”
Something to mull over as the freight world continues to get more and more data-dependent every single day.