Data Can Improve Trucking…If You Know How to Use It

a group of large trucks in a row

Data is a lot like water: there is an awful lot of it all across the globe. But like anything else, data is only valuable if you know how to use it. This is a lesson the trucking industry is learning as increasingly more companies integrate data analysis into their operations.

The trucking industry is one that has never relied too much on data. Until recently, trucking was as simple as picking up a load in one location and dropping it off at another. As long as a driver had a working truck and a load to carry, everything was fine. But modern trucking is being influenced by technology. And where there is technology, there is data.

Data Can Save Time

Time is the enemy of truck drivers and motor carriers. Why? Because drivers are limited in the number of hours they can work every day. Hours of service regulations combined with shipper and receiver schedules make moving freight a time-sensitive enterprise with very little room for error. That means any amount of time drivers and carriers can save is valuable time.

Data can be used to save time if it is implemented properly, says Ohio-based Mytee Products. They cite the amount of time it takes for a flatbed driver to tarp a load as an example. Accurate weather tracking data can save that time if it suggests the chances of a load being exposed to weather are minimal enough to take the risk. On the other hand, data that suggests a stronger chance of weather could end up preventing cargo loss by leading a driver to tarp his/her load.

Traffic data can save time by helping a driver plan his/her route more effectively. This would include construction data that might tell a driver to stay away from a particular metropolitan area this time through. Effectively using such data keeps trucks moving rather than sitting in traffic.

Data Reduces Turnover

Another way data can improve trucking is by reducing driver turnover. Believe it or not, trucking is one of the few industries in which driver turnover can approach 100%. Fortunately, most of the turnover is related to drivers leaving one company to join another.

Let’s say you have a trucking company that continually loses drivers who feel they do not have enough home time. A bit of data analysis could help the carrier figure out a better way to service clients while also increasing home time simultaneously. Finding a solution would not only help the company keep its drivers but it would also make it easier for them to recruit new drivers.

Data Can Increase Efficiency

There is virtually no limit to how data can improve the trucking industry, particularly when it comes to efficiency. The fact is that inefficiency has been a big problem for trucking for decades. In the struggle to secure the best paying loads, far too many carriers and independent contractors have let efficiency go by the wayside. That no longer has to be the case.

The proper use of data can help carriers and independent contractors better understand everything from per-mile rates to deadhead time to fuel efficiency, comparing all of it to how much profit certain loads generate. Sometimes the data will show that a lack of efficiency makes the best paying loads not worthwhile. Other times it will confirm the carrier should go after a particular load.

Data is about more than accumulating numbers and dumping them into spreadsheets. When used properly, data can improve trucking by reducing turnover, increasing efficiency, and saving time and money.