Transportation logistics experts that met last month at the "Leaders in Logistics" annual meeting in Atlanta have come to an interesting conclusion about trucking – success seems based more on good relationships between carriers and customers than solely on the use of technology.
Presented by The Logistics Institute at Georgia Tech, the annual meeting seeked to uncover some "fundamental factors" that separate winners and losers in the logistics industry. In terms of trucking, the consensus seems to be that, while technology has made rapid inroads to help carriers move freight faster, consolidate loads for better efficiency, and increase the numbers on the bottom line, good relationships are the critical ingredient for making money.
"Even as the industry implements new technological advancements, carriers are learning that nothing affects profits more than relationships," said TLI director Harvey Donaldson. "The strongest relationships are built when a carrier uses its sales force to uncover and understand shippers' global needs. To be successful, the industry must not lose sight of its human resources and it should learn to embrace technology as a tool, not a total solution."
"The technology is challenging," said Chris Lofgren, COO of truckload carrier Schneider National. "Yet technology is probably the easiest part of this industry. Logistics costs have increased steadily in the last five years, and market trends indicate they will continue to rise."
"We use the lowest common denominator technology," said Jack Baranowski, vp of terminal operations for Consolidated Freightways. "Each driver is equipped with a cell phone, which is web-enabled so that the driver can instantly confirm a delivery or arrange a pickup."
Yet the use of more complex systems, such as software-driven routing systems, is lower than expected, TLI said. Today's trucking professionals have access to unlimited information, yet much freight continues to be manually routed and tracked, the groups said, pointing to a recent study it did that found that 60% of truck transportation planning is still manual.