Electric truck

There’s no denying that the commercial transportation industry is critical to maintaining the infrastructure of our nation, and the world, as we know it.  

 

There’s also no denying that the transportation industry has a significant impact on global greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and fossil fuel consumption. In fact, in the United States alone, where delivery trucks and trailers only compose around 4% of total vehicles, they generate nearly half of nitrogen oxide emissions and close to 60% of fine vehicle particulates.  

 

However, this pattern doesn’t have to continue. Many of the biggest names in the industry have already taken steps towards a more sustainable future by beginning the transition to electric vehicles and alternative fuel sources, incorporating technology to help fuel efficiency, and implementing regulations to leave a carbon-neutral footprint.  

 

Are you wondering how your company could contribute to the growth of sustainability in the commercial transportation industry? Have you been weighing the pros and cons of electric vehicles and alternative fuel sources? Keep reading to find out what you should know about sustainable transportation and how it could save your company time and money down the road.  

 

What Does Sustainable Transportation Mean? 

Sustainable transportation is an umbrella term for all the strategies and technologies that exist to minimize the environmental impact of the commercial transportation industry. When it comes to trucking, this involves using alternative fuels and electric vehicles, improving fuel efficiency and vehicle technology, and implementing policies and regulations that support sustainable transportation.  

 

For years, trucking companies nationwide have been adopting sustainable transportation solutions, a trend that is sure to continue growing. Since 2005, FedEx has taken various measures to improve its fuel efficiency through design changes and new technology, while Amazon recently made the largest order ever of electric vehicles by adding 100,000 custom electric delivery vehicles to its fleet.  

 

Carriers looking to take the first steps towards a sustainable future should consider integrating new technology such as smart logistics, Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, and other fleet management software to reduce environmental impact while saving money by streamlining operations.  

 

These technologies enable trucking companies to collect and analyze real-time data on vehicle performance, fuel usage, and route efficiency to make more informed decisions, cutting down on unnecessary miles to save time and fuel. Besides contributing to the rise of sustainable transportation, carriers that use smart logistics systems can optimize routes and loads, reduce idle times, and improve overall fleet management.  

 

Pros vs. Cons of Electric Vehicles  

As probably the most well-known and often debated solution to sustainable transportation, electric vehicles (EVs) have seen a steady rise in popularity and technological advancement since the first introduction to mass-produced electric and hybrid vehicles in the 1990’s.  

 

Since then, transportation and logistics companies across the nation have embraced EVs as an option to avoid rising fuel costs, meet increasing state and national environmental regulations, and reduce environmental impact. EVs are also often touted as a safer option, as they are usually equipped with the most up-to-date safety features such as emergency braking, forward collision warning, automatic lane-keeping and enhanced traction control systems.  

 

Although studies have shown that an average electric vehicle owner can save up to $1,000 each year on fuel costs, not to mention the potential government tax incentives and breaks, there are still many factors that carriers must consider before investing in EVs for their fleet.  

 

Upfront costs for purchasing EVs and installing the proper charging infrastructure are often an initial concern for carriers, especially since the proven lower operational and maintenance costs of EVs will likely not offset this cost in the short term.  

 

The current limitations to charging infrastructure nationwide also make it difficult to rely on EVs, especially in an industry like trucking. Although charging stations continue to be installed across the country, there are still many regions where it just isn’t practical yet to solely rely on EVs without a constant need to return to base to charge. Charging time is also important to consider, with larger vehicles taking up to 10 hours to reach a full charge.  

 

Environmental Regulations Affecting Transportation

The growing demand for sustainable transportation is also influenced by rising state and national regulations that aim to meet climate goals. While these regulations might not be taking effect in most states yet, the long-term implications for the transportation industry and increasing likelihood of environmental legislation means that carriers can save time, money, and stress by beginning the transition early.  

 

The 2021 Federal Net-Zero Emissions Goal laid out a path to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions and achieve a net-zero emissions economy by 2050 that is sure to have a significant impact on the transportation industry.  

 

2023’s National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization also aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions in both passenger and freight transportation by improving vehicle efficiency and continuing the transition to zero-emission vehicles.  

 

Statewide policies are sure to begin having an impact on transportation nationwide too, such as California’s 2023 Advanced Clean Fleets rule, which plans on transitioning all commercial trucks and vans to zero-emission vehicles by 2045. Six states have already pledged to join California, including New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Massachusetts, Washington and Vermont. It’s also important to note that even carriers from outside these states that have routes going through California will need to adapt to the state’s regulations.  

 

  

If you’re interested in more updates and trends in the trucking industry, be sure to follow us on social media or check out the rest of our Employer Blog posts.  

The chances are, if you’ve been in the transportation industry for a while, you’ve heard the phrase “last mile delivery,” also called “final mile delivery.”  

 

In recent years, with the rise of e-commerce and a consumer-driven industry, last mile delivery has become a major differentiating factor among competitors, and a job opportunity for 1099 independent contractors looking to have a regular route close to home.  

 

With today’s consumers expecting fast and reliable delivery every time they make an online purchase, retailers and last mile delivery companies have had to work hard to offer multiple options for fast and affordable shipping and delivery rates. However, between a fluctuating economy and the unsolved “last mile problem,” there is still room for improvement in this key stage of the supply chain process.   

 

Read on to find out what last mile delivery really is, the current difficulties facing the transportation industry, and how new technologies are helping businesses nationwide combat the “last mile problem.”   

 

What is Last Mile Delivery? 

The supply chain process can be divided into three main stages:  

 

The First Mile is the creation and distribution of a product from the original manufacturer.  

 

The Middle Mile is the long distance transportation of a product from the manufacturer to its final transportation hub.  

 

The Last Mile or Final Mile is the transportation of a product from a hub such as a local warehouse or fulfillment center to its final destination at either a retailer or customer’s home.  

 

Every step of the supply chain process is important, but the last mile has the most impact on the customer’s experience, and their likelihood of ordering from a company again. Therefore, businesses must ensure the most quick and efficient last mile delivery as possible if they want to stay ahead of competition.  

 

What’s the “Last Mile Problem?” 

The “last mile problem” is another phrase you might have heard thrown around. This simply refers to the common factors that cause issues, delays, and additional expenses during the last mile delivery. This stage of the supply chain process might be the most critical to the consumer experience, but it’s also the most expensive and time-consuming for the business, often accounting for 53% of overall delivery costs.  

 

Many factors play a role in this notoriously difficult and expensive phase of the delivery process that affect both drivers and businesses. For drivers, last mile delivery can be difficult due to a short delivery time frame, dense urban areas that lead to more stops, last minute route changes, rising fuel prices, and failed deliveries.  

 

Businesses must also account for other factors such as the added pressure of customer expectation for rapid delivery and real-time tracking, the shortage of qualified drivers, and the costs of vehicle maintenance.  

 

The importance of last mile delivery is certain to continue increasing, which means that it’s essential to utilize the newest technologies and industry trends to find solutions to the “last mile delivery problem.” 

 

How to Prepare for the Last Mile 

There are several important considerations to keep in mind when attempting to optimize your last mile delivery process.  

Efficient Route Planning 

Effective last mile delivery requires efficient route planning to minimize travel time and fuel costs. Utilize advanced route optimization software to streamline routes and improve overall efficiency. Hiring or contracting with 1099 independent local drivers or owner operators can be an added bonus, as they will be more familiar with shortcuts and traffic patterns.  

Real-Time Tracking and Visibility  

One study recently reported that 93% of customers expect to be able to track their order. By employing technology solutions that provide real-time tracking and visibility into the delivery process, you can assist in monitoring driver performance, ensuring on-time deliveries, and addressing any unforeseen challenges. 

Technology Integration  

The companies that have best set themselves up for success in the last mile delivery process, such as Amazon, FedEx, and General Logistics, have all integrated technology to improve efficiency and lessen the chance of error. Consider technologies such as mobile apps, GPS tracking, and electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) systems to streamline operations and provide better service.  

Fleet Management 

The best way to avoid costly repairs and delays is by keeping your fleet upgraded and compliant with regulations. Many providers of last mile delivery also utilize electric vehicles due to their lower operating and maintenance costs and reduced carbon footprint. It’s also worth considering offering additional benefits for the customer, such as white glove service, that cater to businesses and individuals who are seeking a higher standard of care, attention, and service for their shipments. 

 

 

Although facing a number of difficulties and considerations as it expands, last mile delivery is sure to be a key part of the future of the trucking industry.  

  

To stay up-to-date on other trends and news on the trucking industry, be sure to follow us on social media or read more of our Employer Blog 

equipment

Attracting and retaining the best truck drivers requires many things from trucking carriers. Carriers compete over providing better pay, greater benefits, and more home time. There may be one factor which carriers are forgetting: the quality of their trucking equipment. Using the right equipment can increase driver satisfaction and improve your carrier’s efficiency. In fact, drivers routinely cite equipment quality as one of the top factors they look for in jobs, along with a top reason they decline jobs. If you’re keeping older model trucks around, drivers will be less likely to feel comfortable and safe in those rigs. Here are 3 ways in which your trucking equipment can either help or hurt your truck drivers.

1. Safety

Safety is probably the way in which trucking equipment can either help or hurt your drivers the most. Older model trucks will be more likely to be worn down and require more maintenance. They are also less likely to be enabled with the latest safety technologies to protect your drivers and freight. Safety is the biggest reason to invest in newer trucks.

All drivers want to feel safe in the equipment they are operating, but this is particularly true for newer recruits to the industry.

Investing in the late model trucks makes your carrier more attractive to younger drivers and women drivers. Look for models with collision mitigation technology, which provides brake assistance and blind spot detection warnings. Another useful tool is lane departure warning systems, which warn the driver when their truck begins to move out of its lane unless a turn signal is on. Automatic braking can activate the vehicle’s brake system when sensors detect vehicles ahead in close proximity or any other situation where a collision is imminent.

2. Comfort

You may have expected us to write about driver safety and driver efficiency only. The truth is that comfort is equally if not more important, from a driver’s perspective. Remember that truck drivers spend the majority of their time in the cab of their truck. It essentially functions as both their “office” and their “home.” Can we really blame drivers for prioritizing comfort? Many manufacturers have taken this into account and allowed for more room in the cabin. Manufacturers are also using fleet amenities like foam mattresses, premium audio system, and extra storage drawers. Ergonomics has seen a large push in truck designs.

If you’re sitting in the same truck seat for hours and using the same controls, you’d want the interior to be as comfortable as possible.

Ergonomics allows for the seat cushions, gears, steering wheel, and driver controls to align optimally with the mechanics of the human body. This creates an intuitive and frustration-free experience for the driver, who is able to focus on the task instead of becoming distracted and uneasy. Invest in late-model trucks to find these features and advertise your comfortable cabins to attract more drivers.

3. Efficiency

You may think of improved efficiency as a best reason to invest in good equipment. That’s strictly from a carrier’s perspective though. If you take a driver-centric approach, you’ll think about safety and comfort first. Nevertheless, in an industry where many drivers are paid by the mile, reducing unscheduled stops and downtime improves driver satisfaction. Late model equipment that is well maintained minimizes the chances of breakdowns and delays, increasing the efficiency of your drivers and your fleet.

You don’t want your carrier to gain the reputation of being frequently delayed because of mechanical issues.

This reputation will spread to shippers, receivers, and potential new drivers. Drivers also don’t want to stuck fixing mechanical issues on the road because the carrier didn’t take responsibility for it properly. Some manufacturers can provide drivers with a replacement truck, which puts driver back on the road faster. While this increases the chances of making an on-time delivery, it still isn’t ideal. The best solution is to upgrade your equipment to late model trucks and improve your fleet’s efficiency by minimizing maintenance issues.

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truck driver satisfaction

Recruiters know that truck driver satisfaction is essential to ensuring long-term retention. Sometimes, we naively believe that good pay, benefits, and home time are the perfect satisfaction recipe. A 2017 study by TruckersReport.com, along with software firm OdinText, showed that this isn’t the case at all! The study used text analysis to evaluate comments on TruckersReport.com discussion boards. For veteran drivers, pay grade came in fifth among factors that influence job satisfaction. For both veterans and novices, one of the leading factors was whether the company culture is ‘family-oriented.” While great pay and benefits are necessary for drivers to be satisfied with their carriers, it’s obvious that they aren’t enough. Here are 6 ideas to improve driver satisfaction and retention.

1. Equipment

Drivers don’t want to deal with shoddy equipment and recurring maintenance issues. Good equipment is one of the most cited factors that influence driver satisfaction. Therefore, investing in newer model trucks and quickly resolving maintenance issues shows drivers that you care about safety. Consider also investing in trucks with larger cabins with fleet amenities. Drivers appreciate kitchen appliances and satellite radio/TV that allow for more options during down time.

2. Ride Along Programs

Truck driving can be a lonely profession and hobbies can go only so far in combating boredom. OTR drivers have it particularly rough as they often go several days or even weeks without seeing their loved ones.

Including a passenger or pet ride along program shows your drivers that you care about their personal lives and happiness.

A pet policy lets drivers bring their canine or feline companions on the road with them. Spouse ride along policies gives drivers the flexibility to spend more time with their significant other without losing time away from the job. Driver satisfaction will improve if drivers get to spend more time with who they care about.

3. Health Incentive Programs

Truck driving has the reputation of being one of America’s “unhealthiest professions”. While drivers may not fault their carriers for the inherent risks of the job, they appreciate any efforts carriers make to minimize those risks. Many companies have been engaging in incentive programs to help drivers meet their health goals. For example, some companies are providing healthy sack lunches or break rooms with healthy options. On the other hand, they can be as ambitious as onsite fitness centers, discounted gym memberships, or wellness days with physicals and health assessments. There’s no doubt about it—overall driver satisfaction with the career and the job increases when drivers are healthier, so there’s no downside to prioritizing health.

4. Safety

Truck drivers know that the job comes with inherent risks of crashes and other dangers on the road. When carriers prioritize safety as a top concern within the organization, drivers take note and it will have an impact on their satisfaction.

Carriers can take many steps to address safety in their procedures and policies.

In addition to what the law requires, carriers can institute their own regulations for time behind the wheel, rest time, maximum speeds, and the rest. Make sure that equipment is well maintained and showcase to drivers that the company values their safety. Consider providing drivers with free hands-free devices for use where permitted, or a hassle-free streamlines maintenance request procedure.

5. Professional Development

Trucking isn’t just a job for drivers, but a career path along which the current job may just be a stop on the road. The sooner recruiters realize that drivers have career ambitions and won’t stay in the current driving job forever, the sooner they can help facilitate process within their own carriers. Perhaps some drivers are looking for additional endorsements and certifications to make specialized runs. Carriers can help provide training for these and groom drivers toward those jobs with the same company. Other drivers may be looking to switch regions, or runs. Still others may eventually hope to become owner-operators, or retire and become trainers. All these jobs could be provided through your carrier. Drivers value loyalty so if your carrier invests in their professional development, they will reciprocate by sticking with the same company and being even more satisfied with the company.

6. The “Little” Things

The results of the study suggest that one of the biggest factors impacting driver satisfaction is the company’s culture. Drivers often look for carriers that are family-oriented.

What this really means is that family and loyalty are things drivers value. They are looking for carriers whose values align with their own.

If carriers value family, then your carrier will naturally offer benefits like strong home time, a pet policy, paid time off, or college scholarship funds for family members. Similarly, drivers want to be respected and treated like professionals. When recruiters, dispatchers, and fleet managers treat drivers like people and not simply leads, driver satisfaction will soar through the roof.

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