I am often surprised by haulers in the UK who don’t engage drivers more in the day-to-day running of a fleet. I don’t mean inviting them to board meetings, or allowing them free-reign to do what they want – I mean asking for feedback on how routes are planned, how a customer could be better served or how equipment could be better utilized. Drivers see an operation in a very different way to a planner, traffic clerk or transport manager and I think they can add real value to an operation - even down to how the TMS which plans their routes is configured.
What are the benefits? More than you’d think. An involved driver is a proud and hard-working driver – they feel valued and listened to and because of this will in turn go that extra mile during their working day. It’s the driver that faces a customer and builds relationships – the right relationship between driver and customer can also mean the right relationship at management level with the customer.
Are the routes being planned too easy? Achievable? Asking too much from the driver? If so what could be changed to ensure optimum efficiency? Gauging what is realistically achievable in a drivers shift, can lead to more cost effective routes and less headaches for traffic controllers in the operation who have to deploy what the planners give them.
What factors do the planners need to know which they may currently not be aware of? Access restrictions, time restrictions, customer restrictions. Asking drivers this can really add to the accuracy of plans produced and in turn this leads to more efficient plans.
What other haulers are seen in a customer’s yard? Are they covering work you could be? Drivers see much more as they are on the front-line and this position can mean obtaining information which could be used by Sales teams to win more business.
Rob Shelton is an independent, UK based logistics consultant who specializes in route planning (including systems) and improving efficiencies in supply chain networks.