Transportation and logistics companies are relying on rugged mobile devices post-pandemic.
20 Jul 2022

Transportation and Logistics in the Post-Pandemic Era

Transportation and logistics is a service industry providing movement and management for goods and materials to meet the demands of its customers. It is the backbone of every company’s supply chain. This involves planning, implementing, and controlling goods’ forward and reverse flow and storage. During the Covid-19 pandemic, all modes — airfreight, railroads, trucking fleets, ocean shipping, and warehouses—were disrupted to a large degree.

In a post-pandemic world, there are opportunities to address the many underlying inefficiencies of the sector and adapt to new market conditions. In a recent VDC Research survey, 80% of participating transportation and logistics organizations suggested they have aggressively or slightly accelerated the pace of their mobile technology investments to support operations.

Industry Disruptions

The global transportation and logistics industry was stressed before the pandemic swept the world. The disruptions exacerbated some weaknesses and exposed others for the first time. Transportation companies adapted as best they could to mitigate demand volatility, shutdowns, and labor shortages. In the 2022 MHI Annual Industry Report, 57% of supply chain leaders identified supply chain disruptions and shortages as their top challenges as a result of the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

The disruptions highlighted several opportunities for the industry to transform itself. This is to improve efficiency and remove points of failure that became apparent during the pandemic. For example, consider proof of shipment delivery confirmations. Many transportation companies require a wet or ink signature on a paper form as part of their legacy processes. A truck driver had to present a paper form to the receiving clerk to sign and date the document. Then the driver had to submit the paper form by fax, image capture, or other means. During the pandemic, companies found that digital signatures were sufficient due to social distancing requirements. The analog ink signature wasn’t necessary, so transportation workers could keep themselves safe through a contactless interaction. Digital signatures also have many other advantages over paperwork, so the transition was rapid and appreciated by all parties involved.

Technology is available to make businesses more resilient and flexible in economic upheavals. Transportation and logistics companies can rely on rugged mobile devices and laptops as the foundation of evolution efforts.

Embrace Digital Transformation

A connected supply chain uses digital technologies to deliver end-to-end supply chain visibility and enhanced business operations.

In the case of the electronic proof of delivery, adapting the process to a digital format was necessary. There are many other cases where paper forms and record-keeping are still a part of standard procedures. Transitioning to digital solutions speeds up many processes and generates data that supports analytical decision-making.

Mobile computing solutions represent a critical platform to connect mobile transportation workers – from the warehouse to the delivery vehicle – to provide the information workers need to make informed decisions in real-time.  Evolving data capture requirements to support unique item level identification or more significant traceability efforts will benefit from automating repetitive processes and free up labor for other tasks.

Transportation and logistics companies can deploy rugged mobile devices and laptops. These devices can help to move the information input and management closer to where the work occurs. Workers and managers will have the information they need where they need it. Tools like Getac’s digitizer pen, barcode scanners, and image capture dramatically reduce input errors and speed up the flow of information into the giant warehouse or transportation system. Maintenance workers can conduct inspections, immediately update machinery and vehicles’ status, and have work aids like instructional videos at their fingertips.

Transportation and logistics companies can create a touchless process with the appropriate hardware and software solutions. This can include order entry through customs clearance to delivery notices and automating most routine back-office tasks.

Examining underlying processes is critical to ensure only best practices become part of the new way of doing things. Digital transformation reduces reliance on manual processes and outdated solutions that may fail when things don’t go according to plan.

Improve Resiliency and Flexibility

Disruptions during the pandemic highlighted Inefficiencies and congestion from inflexible networks and disrupted trade patterns. At the same time, customers had high expectations for on-time delivery regardless of problems at the port or warehouse dock.

Moving information to where the work occurs improves resilience and flexibility, whether in a warehouse or a truck cab. With 5G connectivity, mobile devices and laptops can move the work to the network’s edge, with less lag between the field and headquarters. Data from a truck fleet, port operations, or a warehouse can converge at a centralized location. This ensures each piece of information provides insights that can be used to keep the work moving. In a warehouse, workers can update the status of trailers at the dock doors. This is to ensure infrastructure and labor have utilization rates. At an airport, digitized solutions can increase efficiency in runway, apron, terminal, and refueling operations while reducing costs and potential errors.

Immediate delivery of time-sensitive data improves the ability to collaborate and take immediate action. Rugged devices can be critical in improving supply chain risk management with up-to-date information about events that may impact the supply chain globally and support decisive action to address the risks.

Innovate With Labor Management

Overall, 73% of businesses in a recent survey from InstaWork said they couldn’t hire enough employees. In the U.S., warehouse jobs are at their highest level. However, the number of open positions also continues to rise. Experts don’t see the labor shortage going away any time soon.

With competition for transportation workers at an all-time high, technology adoption can be a differentiator when people decide where to work. In a survey from Wakefield Research, 74% of warehouse workers surveyed said they would take a lower-paying job to use technology that speeds up their work. The employees reported they see their employers’ investment in technology as an investment in them. This can help a company stand out as an attractive place to work.

In comparison, 41% of warehouse operators surveyed by VDC Research indicated that improving labor optimization was a leading improvement initiative. Responses were similar for faster order shipping and improving the perfect order rate. Mobile solutions are critical solutions to enable real-time decision-making at scale.

As warehouse operators increase the number of stock-keeping units (SKUs), they carry to meet e-commerce demands. They will rely on automation to support the workforce. Mobile devices can help solve the skills gap in hiring and training workers through easy-to-use mobile applications. The role of technology and attracting and retaining workers may be just as important as its role in improving warehouse performance.

Choose Getac to Transform Transportation and Logistics

Rugged mobile devices and laptops provide the level of performance and durability users in the industry need. This includes fast-paced work in unforgiving environments in aviation, marine, trucking fleets, and warehouse materials handling. Semi-rugged notebooks may be sufficient for use in office environments with occasional tours of the warehouse floor or maintenance shop. These devices protect against physical risks that would otherwise damage a consumer-grade device. Rugged devices maximize worker uptime. A recent VDC research indicates frontline workers lose 70 minutes of productivity every time a mobile device fails.

Getac devices classified as fully rugged meet specific standards and are awarded IP or MIL-STD certifications for various stresses. These include moisture, dust, and shocks. Rugged devices have brighter screens. They can be used in bright sunlight and survive in extreme weather conditions. Battery performance is another critical factor. 35% of frontline workers report that batteries don’t last an entire shift, resulting in lost productivity, according to VDC research.

Getac Select® Solutions offer comprehensive software solutions to resolve complex IT challenges, using proven industry-specific programs

Prepare for the Future of Transportation

For any business involved in transportation and logistics, the Covid-19 era forced rapid adaptation to new business methods. An ongoing strategy to digitize processes and incorporate the advantages of rugged mobile technology and edge computing will prepare transportation and logistics companies to adapt and respond successfully to the next round of global disruption. Developing a resilient, adaptable organization to support the supply chain will deliver significant economic and customer service benefits over the long term. This allows the organization to compete in today’s highly agile, data-rich supply chain.

For more insights, download the Transportation, Logistics & Supply Chain Operations whitepaper by VDC Research in the link below.

Ken Teese is Director of Sales at Getac. He leads a team of sales professionals serving enterprise-class companies focused on Natural Resources, Oil & Gas, Transportation and Logistics, Industrial Manufacturing, Healthcare, and Automotive markets in North America.

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