It’s no secret that for many years now, trucking companies have been increasingly turning away from running their operations using paper. Whether it be to increase efficiencies, streamline processes or take advantage of advanced new software solutions, fleets are increasingly moving their operations from the physical world to the digital world.
There are several areas where better document capture without using paper can work wonders for your organization. Whether you are looking at it from a productivity, billing or delivery perspective, eliminating paper saves both time and money.
Apps and Digital Technology
Workflow apps allow enterprising motor carriers to turn physical documents into digital forms that their operators can fill out using an in-cab mobile device, smartphone or tablet. Truck drivers can do anything from capture signatures to scan barcodes or take pictures.
It also depends on what type of work a motor carrier is doing. The burden of paperwork is not uniform across the board. In truckload, for instance, expect loads and trips to languish under the weight of documentation.
LTL fleets may look at it differently. The difficulty for LTL providers lies in ensuring the paper flow matches the freight flow. When a fleet eliminates paper, they allow for digital information – which travels instantly – to be able to keep up with what’s actually going on in the yard and the cab.
Of course, the data that allows for eliminating the paper trail still needs to be tracked. Essential business functions need to be stored and managed. While fleets find themselves eliminating file cabinets, they increasingly find servers are needed in their place.
Some fleets are turning to onboard computing platforms that log and keep track of engine performance, driver performance and other factors such as hours of service. All this information is then transmitted back to home office for analysis.
Still, this doesn’t mean that paper is going to disappear altogether from trucking. Even fleets who have made major strides in going paperless still must use paper when needed. Fleets transporting hazardous or otherwise valuable or dangerous cargo must often utilize special documents – a paradigm that is unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon.
Impact on Drivers and Back-Office Workers
Fleets in this situation can still utilize these new wonders of technology. Hazardous cargo fleets may still need paper, but they can also better scan and transmit it. Everything from freight bills to safety documents and payables can be managed and transmitted electronically, regardless of whether it originated on a piece of paper or not.
Other examples can be seen in bills of lading, proof of delivery, fuel receipts and so much more. The documents can be turned in by the truck driver and then scanned and index into back office databases. Imagine reducing days-to-bill from around 7 or 8 days to 3 or 4 days. You’ll also spend far less time on postage, printer ink and paper costs in the long run.
While truck drivers still must collect data, and transmit information in the paperless trucking world, these technologies have still made various aspects of their lives far easier. The goal, whether a trucker is using a smartphone to log time or using a scanning kiosk back at home base, is to make their life easier.
Consider that your truck drivers are both your customer service representatives and in-house technology experts. Utilize technologies that help to ease the burden of responsibility, rather than create more.
As technology proliferates and government reporting requirements continue to grow, trucking industry players will need to find a way to manage the transition from paperless to digital. How that evolution plays out remains to be seen.