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Why Small Fleets are Slow to Invest in Technology

lo-techConsidering the many variables that affect a small fleet, it’s easy to see why it’s hard for your business to achieve a consistent profit level. Trucking is a complex beast with many areas you need to keep a handle on: customer demands, traffic, routing considerations, safety compliance, employee retention, and driver training. These and many other factors affect your bottom line and spell the difference between profit and loss.

In other industries, it’s not uncommon to solve complex requirements with automation but the slim margins in trucking often prevent small carriers from investing in technology. Fleet management and electronic logging technologies are a prime example of something your business really should be investing in. These technologies not only enhance productivity but can also save your business money.

Your operations are constantly at the mercy of fluctuating fuel costs and a highly competitive local market. These factors are part of the reason that transportation has some of the lowest margins of any industry. Adding to this, the last few years have seen many new rules and regulations creating an even more stringent safety compliance environment.

The need for technology in trucking is more apparent than ever, yet industry uptake has been very slow. If you have ever looked into telematics and fleet management solutions, you’re probably already familiar with the costs associated with investing in proprietary hardware. With most tucking companies only operating six or fewer trucks, it makes you wonder who these solutions are aimed at.

Also, if your business is seasonal with fluctuating numbers of drivers, being bound by an inflexible multi-year contract for something you’ll only use a couple months of the year is less than ideal.

One area of your business crying out for automation is hours of service (HOS) compliance. Violations related to driver logs and recording of duty status are more common than any other violation found during roadside inspections. These violations can be costly for your business, resulting in fines and affecting your CSA score. Staying on top of HOS rules can be tricky and requires your drivers to keep track of multiple time periods. With the upcoming ELD mandate, it’s imperative that you start employing an electronic method of recording your driver’s logs.

The last few years have seen a radical shift in technology. With the proliferation of affordable, portable and powerful devices, the cell phone has been largely replaced by the smartphone, and there’s a chance your drivers already have this technology in their pockets. This new app-powered world can offer a much better fit for the typical cash-strapped small fleet.

Today, more than 15 million trucks operate in the US, with around 3.5 million licensed drivers working for approximately 1.2 million enterprises. If capital investment is at a premium in your operations, are you going to be ready for the upcoming changes?

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