This is a very exciting time for the trucking industry with all sorts of new technology coming into the market and being developed almost on a daily basis.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement that technological developments bring, but investing in every new advancement or gadget that comes out is not always the wisest course of action, even though it is very tempting to do so.
When it comes to technology, the first step is to identify a specific need. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- What area of operation are you trying to improve?
- What process or function will this replace?
- What is the purpose of a given device? To improve workflow? To take pictures? Capture a signature?
- Will it be hard mounted on the truck, in the truck or will the driver need to walk around with it?
- What other systems will it need to be integrated with?
- How will your customers benefit or be impacted?
- What data will be captured? What will you do with that data?
Understanding the answers to these questions, as well as having an idea as to where the finish line is, will dictate which types of technology you should look at.
The next step is to identify all the stakeholders in the integration. Not just the field personnel who will be using it, but also those responsible for system administration, maintenance and anyone else within the organization that will be effected by it. Make sure to receive input from everyone involved so you make the best decision for the whole organization.
Let’s look at the example of a driver-facing camera. Why do you want it? Let’s say you are hoping it will exonerate the driver in the event of an accident. What happens though when the camera points out to you that a driver is texting and driving?
Do you let the behavior go? Talk to him? Put a letter in his file? Discipline him? Terminate him?
There is no right or wrong answer here; the point is you need to think through the ramifications of every technology purchase.
When it comes to technology you need to establish standard operating procedures for its selection, usage and implementation throughout your operation while planning for how you will respond if someone does not adhere to use.
Consider “technologies” such as trailer tails. Many trailer trails on the market require the driver to deploy them. Making an investment in a trailer tail system, is inevitably an additional investment in training drivers on the proper way to operate them and a change in operating procedure to ensure you have to set consequences if not adhered to.
There is no denying that technology is exciting. However, we all need to make certain that we don't just get caught up in the newness of it. First and foremost, have a plan in place to assess your needs, evaluate the available options, train your staff, and develop a process to evaluate if it is being used properly.