Every trucking and logistics provider knows first-hand the many challenges of getting multiple shipments from Point A to Point B. With all of the uncertainties involved with over-the-road transportation, one thing that fleets can best control is route planning, which ensures that shipments reach their destination as intended. This becomes an especially important factor when a company is engineering new route designs.
Every supply chain has inherent requirements that must be met to run as efficiently as possible. Having the right equipment, people and technology available are some of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Freight characteristics, weight restrictions, tight delivery windows, highway regulations and restrictions all of these elements are part of the everyday challenges among others that always make logistics interesting. In response, it is essential to have a well-thought-out strategy that considers these variables with the right assets for continuous improvement.
Getting the right equipment in place
Fleet management is a critical component when designing new routes. Whether it’s navigating tight city quarters or long-haul highway trucking, the right type of equipment ensures that you’re meeting regulations and maximizing profit at the same time.
It’s beneficial to have various equipment and assets available to suit different needs. The size of the truck, tonnage and type of load all play a role in choosing the right equipment for each shipment. Understanding these requirements helps in evaluating whether a company will need to place an order for equipment that fits more specific needs or if their current fleet is sufficient.
It is here where dedicated fleets can really provide flexibility by offering more custom-tailored options. Working with carriers who can engineer solutions with an exclusive focus on the particular needs of a customer’s supply chain brings more predictable service and eliminates some of the common frustrations that come with managing a private fleet.
When simply looking at parking sign instructions in a busy city it is easy to see how confusing regulations on the road can be even in daily life. Logistics providers confront this on a whole different level, so it is critical to be ahead of the curve. Undoubtedly, technology plays an important role here: truck-specific GPS devices often account for road restrictions, type of load carried, truck configuration and other metrics. These devices help prevent commercial motor vehicles from getting stuck on roads, under bridges or in other inappropriate places by preventing traffic incidents. They can also keep trucks off of weight-restricted roads and bridges which in turn helps protect the structural integrity of highways.
Understanding routes within specific regions and the intricacies of large metropolitan areas are key determining factors in what equipment will be dedicated to which job. For example, certain municipalities might have limits to the tonnage or the type of load that can pass through an area. Knowing these things in advance will help determine if your business has the equipment to meet the requirements of a certain region.
Technology and people power
The promise of new technology always creates a lot of speculation for its potential applications; however, people are still behind the wheel. Route planning is one area where technology has continued to progress over the years, but the power of good people behind it is still critical. Road technology is often only as good as the information available to it, oftentimes route planning technology fails to detect real-time road conditions like construction zones or road closures.
This is where having a good team helps to factor into the equation. People with assets on the ground and firsthand knowledge of an area can inform you of conditions despite what technology tells you; they might know that a road going through rural West Virginia is too windy or hilly for bigger trucks and that using a smaller vehicle is more appropriate. It also doesn’t hurt for drivers to keep physical maps on hand, especially in rural areas in case cellular service becomes unavailable and they lose access to GPS.
There’s more to consider than just looking at equipment, regulations and route planning tools when thinking about engineering new routes in a new area. But these are the types of things that trucking companies need to account for to ensure their customers maximize the efficiency of their supply chain.