A Complete Guide To Contactless Fleet Management
"Our national freight network is complex and dynamic, a system of systems, constantly adapting to the demands of industry, technology, and safety.” —Leslie Blakey, President, Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC)
The demand for contactless fleet management is booming as a result of current world events. We know fleet management optimization has always been goal #1 for companies in the freight business. Indeed, as Blakey noted above, the logistics landscape never stops evolving. The dynamics and ever-changing market conditions of the freight industry are a result of supply and demand pressure combined with global events.
The reality is, the world stage now plays out against a backdrop of technology. Most people on Earth use a smartphone. The smartphone changed the world, and it changed how we do business. Freight company ownership sees it. Fleet managers see it. Drivers see it. End users see it. We all see it.
Contactless Fleet Management Allows the Freight Industry To Adapt Yet Again
As such, contactless fleet management technology is helping decision makers in the freight industry adapt to the demands of the freight industry and worldwide social distancing measures. In short, we know technology defines fleet management. But what does contactless mean?
Contactless in the current sense means "immediate closeness is not required." Contactless deliveries (also sometimes called touchless) are common in the B2C sector. Just think about the Amazon Prime packages making it hard to open the front door. The goods arrived, you didn't see the driver, but you have digital proof of the transaction. Now take that same, simple contactless concept and transfer it to the exponentially more complex (and traditionally, paper-heavy) world of freight, logistics, and warehousing.
You get the point. Clearly, contactless fleet management is the next great wave of tech, and it's already sink-or-swim time. Tech innovators such as Vector have already made contactless fleet management a reality, along with digitized documents and automated workflow.
This article is an introduction and guide to the contactless fleet management landscape. The topics we'll cover are:
- A brief history of how we got to contactless fleet management
- The core, unchanging goals of fleet managers
- The key elements of the contactless technology logistics stack
- What contactless fleet management allows you to do
Contactless fleet management will allow the freight industry to survive, thrive, and drive the global economy. But how did we evolve to this point? It starts with an iconic moment.
Contactless Fleet Management Began With Steve Jobs and the First Apple iPhone
Remember the time before smartphones? Hardly, right? The world truly changed on January 9, 2007, when Steve Jobs unveiled the first Apple iPhone. You may have seen Steve Jobs' iconic iPhone-1 keynote presentation. In it, first he referenced the fact that in 1984, Apple introduced the Macintosh, and it changed the whole computer industry. Then Jobs referenced the iPod, which Apple introduced in 2001, which didn't "just change the way we all listen to music, [but] changed the entire music industry."
Then, Jobs (famously) teased the audience that he was now introducing three revolutionary products of world-class technology. Jobs said, "The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough internet communications device." After letting the crowd slowly catch on, Jobs confirmed, "These are not three separate devices; this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone."
The iPhone, and specifically the App Store, subsequently provided the platform. Meanwhile, tech companies innovated. In the case of contactless fleet management, Vector became the industry leader in digitized document software, which has since been dubbed perfect-scan.
How Would Steve Jobs Describe Vector's Contactless Fleet Management Software?
Vector's mobile perfect scan technology works on iPhones, Android devices, and even PeopleNet PCTs. But what makes contactless fleet management possible is the fact that Vector also integrates telematics, GPS, transportation management systems (TMS), and document management systems (DMS) to allow freight companies to have total data integration.
That means drivers, warehouses, back offices, and customers can all access the perfect digitized documents and load info they need, when they need it, where they need it. And then they can share it with everyone else who needs it too!
Put another way, contactless fleet management involves a winning trio that combines to create what Vector calls contactless fleet management:
- the ability to capture digitized documents
- the tools to integrate that data and those documents up and down your fleet management tech stack (in other words, "do business")
- the opportunity to complete these tasks while maintaining a safe social distance
If we think different for a moment, Steve Jobs might have introduced Vector's three revolutionary products as such:
"The first product is perfect-scan technology that provides best-in-class digitized documents. The second is a customizable interface that allows those documents to be shared through complete system integration between warehouse, driver, back office, and customer that will streamline workflow—and cash flow. And the third is a breakthrough, contactless risk mitigation platform that will ensure the safety of entire swaths of the freight industry."
The Goals of Fleet Management
OK, so we can hear Steve Jobs' voice in our heads while we consider contactless fleet management. But trucking and fleet management are old industries. Let's briefly cover some fundamentals before we pivot back to how contactless protocols streamline fleet management. Let's cover what could broadly be described as the goals of fleet management:
- Driver safety and retention
- Fleet tracking
- Overall risk mitigation
- Improved efficiency and productivity
- Reduced transportation costs
- Optimal non-peak period driver use
- Route optimization
- Reduced staff costs
- FMCSA compliance regarding electronic logging devices (ELD), hours of service, hazmat, and IFTA
- Reduced vehicle maintenance costs
In addition to spinning those plates, a fleet manager's role and goal is to increase cost competitiveness, drive revenue, and watch P&L. Fleet managers accomplish these goal by keeping a hawkish eye on optimization and key performance indicators (KPIs). In other words, beyond optimal capacity use, fleet managers are data crunchers who dabble in accounting and human resources.
Overall, fleet managers must wear a lot of hats and use a lot of tools to get the job done. Perhaps that's another reason the logistics marketplace has welcomed the technological solutions Vector has brought to the table—because Vector is so customizable.
Don't Take My Word for It—Read the Testimonials
On the other hand, maybe fleet managers like the ability Vector gives them to streamline everyone's workflow. Then again, my money is that fleet managers like Vector's automated payments best. After all, who doesn't like a streamlined cash flow?
But we don't have to guess about what each trucking companies values most about Vector. Instead, just head over to Vector's testimonials page. You'll see that it's full of firsthand accounts about Vector and the impact it's making where the rubber meets the road.
The Key Elements of the Contactless Logistics Technology Stack
Which factors are widely accepted as the key elements of the ideal freight technology stack? Any trucking company that wants to optimize for efficiency and properly prepare for success has a tech stack that features the same core elements. The ideal tech stack will resemble something like this:
- Contactless/risk mitigation measures
- ELDs (electronic logging devices)
- GPS (global positioning system)
- TMS (transportation management system)
- Driver workflow
- Mobile scanning for load documents
- Automated billing
- DMS (document management software)
Incredibly, Vector checks the box up and down the ideal logistics tech stack, either directly or through integration and partnerships.
The Future of Contactless Fleet Management Is Now
"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."—Steve Jobs
In conclusion, we know that the national freight network is complex—it's a system of systems. To thrive in this industry, we must constantly adapt to the demands of the market, technology, and safety. In other words, we must be innovative. Just as each version of the iPhone builds on the last, we must keep getting better.
As we've seen, many tech updates occurred along the way. But they all led to this moment for Vector and contactless fleet management.
Think different, stay hungry, stay foolish—but also stay safe.
And keep truckin'!
This post was written by Brian Deines. Brian believes that every day is a referendum on a brand’s relevance, and he’s excited to bring that kind of thinking to the world of modern manufacturing and logistics. He deploys a full-stack of business development, sales, and marketing tools built through years of work in the logistics, packaging, and tier-1 part supply industries serving a customer base comprised of Fortune 1000 OEMs.