By Steve Cavolick
Because many of our customers are in the transportation, large-scale distribution, or fleet management business, we are constantly asked how better analytics can be used to improve their business results.
The commercial transportation industry is standing on the edge of massive technological change, and those companies that adapt the quickest will be best positioned to compete in the next generation of business. Let’s look at some of the disruptive technologies that are available now or are on the visible horizon:
- Self-Driving Trucks: Solutions for autonomous trucks exist, but are more suited for open highways than crowded city streets. Some companies are upgrading their fleets to accommodate self-driving with the gear to learn from human drivers and drive by themselves. These solutions include sensors to collect data on telematics, road and environmental conditions, and human driving habits, all of which can be used for driving model algorithms.
- Real-Time Logistics: This solution will integrate truck data into the entire enterprise supply chain. Sensors will not only monitor truck mechanical performance data, and driver health and fatigue data, but will also be able to read trailer weight, capacity, and location data. Predictive models will automatically determine which rig should pick up which load.
- Network Optimization: Many companies talk about logistics in a hub and spoke terms, but deciding what to stock and where to stock it is difficult for those companies that have multiple DCs across the country. Moving products within this network is expensive if not done for the right reason. Automated decisioning software will predict the best location to stock items and the best (cheapest) routes for moving them.
All of these solutions will generate and rely on massive amounts of data, and managing that data throughout its useful lifetime at your company will be key. Is your environment ready store, manage, and visualize this wave of data?
Even if you are not ready for predictive analytics and Artificial Intelligence in the applications mentioned above, but find yourself at a different point on the analytics maturity curve, being able to manage your data prepares you for other applications that can help streamline your business and reduce costs. Some of the operational analytical applications we have helped our transportation customers with include:
- Creating Efficiencies Around Data Movement and Reporting: This is foundational and a gateway application to more advanced analytics. You cannot begin with advanced analytical applications until you master your data for basic operational intelligence. Many companies don’t feel the need to improve processes, skills, and technology in this area because they believe their peers are not doing this. Excel and hand-coded scripts were fine a decade ago, as business grow, manual methods become expensive, time consuming, and carry risk with them. Automating analytical processes with enterprise-class platforms reduces the time and cost of delivering accurate insight to the business. In addition, knowledge workers gain new skills and can do their jobs with confidence, increasing employee satisfaction.
- Employee Turnover and Retention: With the cost of onboarding a new employee often exceeding $10,000, this represents a significant expense to companies with high churn rates. Combining HR data with employee survey data can help identify which employees are likely to stay with your company for the long run, and which current employees are likely to leave.
- Benefits and Health Insurance: Health Insurance is usually one of the three biggest expenses (along with salaries and fuel) for trucking transportation companies. Companies who are self-insured have the advantage of access to more detailed healthcare claims and demographic information, which allows you to hold providers accountable for results and build wellness programs for at-risk employees.
There is no denying that the digital revolution has arrived, and those companies in commercial transportation that are ready to exploit it will place themselves in the best position to serve their customers and fend off new competition in the future.
The LRS Big Data and Analytics team has 20 years of experience in analytics and data warehousing, including some of the largest transportation and fleet management companies. If you are interested in understanding how we can help you with digitization of your value chain to create a competitive advantage, please fill out the form below and let us know how we can help.
About the author
Steve Cavolick is a Senior Solution Architect with LRS IT Solutions. With over 20 years of experience in enterprise business analytics and information management, Steve is 100% focused on helping customers find value in their data to drive better business outcomes. Using technologies from best-of-breed vendors, he has created solutions for the retail, telco, manufacturing, distribution, financial services, gaming, and insurance industries.