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Easing Driver Shortages by Optimizing Last-Mile and Linehaul Planning

12.04.2022

linehaul-planning

Current Challenges with Drivers in the Sector

Today, the average driver is 55 years old and due to retire in the next decade, leaving the industry with even fewer workers to support the rising demand for consumer goods. 

The UK government provided funding for training 4,000 new drivers in December 2021, while the US launched a “90-day apprenticeship challenge” to meet the driver shortage. New troops on the road come with pros and cons as the younger generation can learn streamlined processes from the beginning; however, they may require additional support for more complex routes. But that is if they sign up for the training first.

While wage increases may attract initial support, driving can be a monotonous task and, when tired, is one of the most dangerous. Those who do it day in, day out, sometimes for eight days in a row, are at risk of exhaustion. Still, autonomous driving is being perfected, and trucking companies need to find ways to make journeys feel less like manually winding a conveyor belt.

Logistics providers employ the latest technology to reinforce their operations and minimize pressure on workers. And with younger drivers on the horizon, there’s no better time to familiarize their businesses with AI-driven operations, such as last-mile and linehaul planning software. Here’s why.

Simplifying Processes for New Drivers with Linehaul Planning

Linehaul planning is the optimization of complex transport networks using enriched demand forecasting. Data-driven decision-making prevents inexperienced drivers from being assigned to challenging routes by intelligently matching drivers with truck assets and destinations.

Using route optimization and ZIP code grouping, planners can visualize the complexity of routes and ensure clarity for new drivers. Integrated map features within the vehicles will help keep drivers on track while preventing them from checking hand-held mobile devices while driving to ensure their safety. 

Synced to AI-driven monitoring systems, the GPS can provide central planners with real-time vehicle performance, traffic, and road conditions. Planners or automated platforms can use this data, for example, to re-route drivers in times of gridlock. By reducing the time wasted at a standstill, you increase vehicle life expectancy – lowering the engine’s stop-starting. In addition, the driver no longer has to sit through extended delays or stress over adding their next journey to a list of backlogs, improving their experience. 

Drivers are paid based on miles driven. Automated invoices and easy-to-understand statements issued by a central platform provide a clear line of communication between management and drivers. Applications exist that enable fast and automated hours of service calculations to improve accuracy and efficiency in payment allocation. A central system that monitors vehicles in real-time allows for such improvements by recording routes taken and wait times during traffic jams and loading periods. 

By increasing transparency within the payment allocation and optimizing routes, drivers can benefit from fairer processes and reduced frustrations on the road. Personalized maps to include your company’s end destinations will increase simplicity for drivers while using historical data to highlight and educate newbies to complex zones.

The next mile marker on the road to predictive truck maintenance

Meet Demand Volatility

Last-mile planning is the process of allocating your last-mile resources optimally to meet demand volatility. AI-powered forecasting looks at aggregate and historical data to predict next-day delivery shipments so that logistics companies can accurately plan the number of drivers and vehicles required. 

With accurate shipment expectations and leveraging repositioning algorithms, distribution managers can plan their warehouses accordingly, ensure each lorry is allocated a full load, and enable quicker turnaround in the loading process for their fleet of drivers. For example, planners know they have 80 parcels to deliver to ZIP code group A. They can assign the journey to an available driver and ensure the warehouse knows to have the goods ready for packing.

Logistics companies can provide extra support to meet volatile demand by sharing resources with third parties. Central systems allow you to connect with multiple stakeholders and provide visibility within the supply chain. Similarly, Uber has listed New York’s yellow taxis on its app to boost supply and reduce wait times. Transport providers can see when their fleet is in demand and where they can support other trips. 

More flexible shift patterns relieve workers from the eight-day non-stop grind and provide a better working experience, making the job more attractive for recruits. The future of the supply chain is about collaboration across the network. With improved data visibility, transportation companies can optimize linehaul and last-mile planning to meet rising demand while reducing the load on their workforce.

Are you ready to meet the rising consumer demand? Read our blog to find more tips on optimizing your supply chain and improving the driver experience.

Acknowledgment

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The Transmetrics project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 945610.