Carriers work with drivers to navigate tech learning curve in challenging market {padding-top: 56.25%;}

Once known for its reluctance to embrace technology, the logistics industry has homed in on high-tech solutions to boost efficiency and increase profitability. For carriers specifically, the desire to ramp up productivity is top of mind as the market loosens after years of pandemic-fueled volatility.

Everyday tasks – including everything from payroll to processing bills of lading – are cumbersome and time-consuming. Trucking companies find themselves stretched thin when it comes to time, money and staff. Digitization and automation promise to ease the burdens of manual labor, but tech adoption comes with its own challenges.

For most businesses, BOLs are not even submitted until a driver gets to a terminal and sends them through a feed scanner. From there, images have to be assessed for quality. In some cases, the entire process can take upwards of 12 hours to complete. 

To cut down on this processing time, many carriers instruct drivers to submit freight bills while on the move. While this is a time-saving task in theory, it can be inefficient in practice because other tools available on the market only prompt drivers to take photos of forms; they were not designed for the goal of capturing BOL data entirely and accurately. 

Reject rates, which can throw a wrench in a transportation provider’s ability to streamline the load planning and scheduling process, are too often an afterthought.

“When we talk about reject rates, we’re talking about image quality,” Richard Greening, DDC FPO global technical director, said. “Even the smallest rejection rate has the biggest impact.”

Rejected BOLs slow down a transportation provider’s decision making process and prevent them from making decisions based on real-time information. This not only compromises a company’s efficiency, it can also make it difficult to win repeat business due to timing delays and cost disparities.

With widespread market softening, reducing rejections – and therefore streamlining planning – is more important than ever.

SONAR’s Outbound Tender Volume Index (OTVI) illustrates this softening, showing significantly lower volumes across the nation on a year-over-year basis. Lower available volumes means transportation providers must set themselves apart by providing efficient, predictable and cutting edge service in order to win loads. 

While the drive to solve these issues and secure new solutions is strong, adopting technology and digitizing processes in an industry that operates 24/7 is challenging. DDC created a tool to address these rampant inaccuracies in a scalable and convenient way– simultaneously improving efficiency and preventing overwhelm.

DDC Sync enables drivers to capture BOLs immediately. With this tool, drivers do not push a button to take a photo. Instead, the tool relies on a depth perception border and an augmented reality border to intuitively teach drivers how to hold the document in order to record all needed information, according to Greening.

“Don’t change your process,” Greening said. “Just digitize your freight bill at the point you want it digitized, not when a tech company tells you to.”

Ultimately, DDC is working to create solutions that meet companies where they are and complement their existing operations instead of forcing them into a pre-existing mold. 

Greening encourages carriers to evaluate all new technologies through the lens of their existing business needs. This can prevent companies from being swayed to adopt tools they do not need and help guard against tech burnout.

DDC Sync does not just handle BOLs. The product exists to connect every segment of a carrier’s operations. To do this, the platform boasts both corporate communication and driver community features.

On the corporate side, carriers can sync with their drivers by alerting them to what is happening in the business via updates, newsletters, virtual events and even reward programs.

This feature allows carriers to share educational content and actionable data, like market updates, with their fleet of drivers. 

The platform also allows drivers to connect to each other, offering something akin to a social media platform tailored to each fleet of drivers. This allows colleagues who may not physically see each other often to interact, build connections and find common interests. 

“This isn’t about ticking a box, this is genuinely about increasing quality for your drivers,” Greening said.

In addition to encouraging community, DDC Sync allows for gamification in order to boost adoption and reduce downtime. While many drivers are wary of technology in general, adding in a competitive element can provide the incentive they need to get curious about new solutions.

“We have to teach the drivers that these tools are no different from having a hammer in your toolbelt if you’re a carpenter,” Greening said. “This is your hammer. Use it.”

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Editor: Ashley Coker