The COVID-19 coronavirus is hitting the country hard, and that includes the freight industry. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “Trucking capacity is getting tighter as demand surges from retailers and manufacturers hustling to replenish stores and distribution centers cleaned out by shoppers stockpiling food and sanitizing supplies.” Last week, online freight marketplace DAT Solutions LLC. reported that the average rate to hire a truck on the spot market had increased 6.1% since Feb. 29, to $1.89 per mile including fuel.
Across the US, our nation’s 3.5 million truck drivers are working tirelessly to keep shelves stocked with items today’s consumers want most – toilet paper, hand sanitizer, canned goods, and other staples people are buying to see them through the current pandemic. Yet, our truck drivers’ jobs are getting more challenging by the day due to:
- Social distancing demands
- Truck-stop restaurant and rest stop closures
- Travel restrictions
- And, a very volatile market
It’s a harrowing time for these heroes. But freight tech solutions are playing a huge role in helping carriers and drivers navigate the chaos and uncertainty the coronavirus has injected into their daily routines. Here’s how…
Challenge: Social distancing:
Whether you work in an office or live your life out on the road, social distancing is the new reality. A recent FreightWaves study indicates that 91 percent of carriers surveyed have directed drivers to maintain personal or social distance whenever possible, to limit exposure to the COVID-19 coronavirus. Drivers are also facing new restrictions at receiving docks as customers increasingly ask them to keep their distance and stay in their trucks.
Freight tech solutions that enable truck drivers to switch over from paper to electronic methods in order to document pickups and deliveries.
Challenge: Truck-stop restaurant and rest stop closures
Many truck-stop restaurants have shut down dining rooms and switched to takeout service to comply with health orders. In some states, such as Pennsylvania, Texas, Nebraska, and Michigan, dozens of rest stops have been closed. The result? Truckers are finding it difficult to find places to eat, shower, and park and rest.
Freight tech solutions that develop pre-built schedules designed around a driver’s HOS limits and guide him or her to open truck stops and available parking.
The Challenge: Travel restrictions
Some drivers aren’t willing to haul loads to areas where the numbers of coronavirus cases are highest, because other areas might be less welcoming to doing business with them in the future. This is also a time when drivers want and need some predictability in their schedules. They need routes that will get them home to support their families and keep them all safe.
Freight tech solutions that use driver preferences to set up attractive itineraries that include round trips and guaranteed minimums.
Challenge: Controlling costs in a volatile market
Capacity and prices are fluctuating rapidly. Data indicates that demand is up five to 10 times the normal demand in cities like Seattle, an epicenter of the crisis. But it’s way down in areas like Southern California, due to a large drop in freight coming into the local ports from China, where the pandemic started. There are bound to be winners and losers. It is in the best interest of all carriers and drivers to reign in cost now wherever possible.
Using freight tech solutions to save money. Whether it’s deploying a TMS that enables a carrier and their drivers to close an office and work virtually together, or replacing a pricey load board subscription with a free service, technology can help cut current cost and position you for growth in the long run.
The COVID-19 coronavirus is forcing all of us to change how we work. While some industries are slowing down, the long-haul trucking industry is being forced into overdrive. Today’s truckers are working tirelessly to ensure that the shelves are stocked for consumers, and emergency supplies reach the medical professionals who need them. The ability to deliver depends heavily on innovative freight tech solutions.
SemiCab is ready to do its part. Our digital freight ecosystem is here to simplify the process of marrying shipments and capacity. We build trips that offer fully loaded miles, guaranteed minimums, lower risk, and the ability to get drivers home when they want to be there. And best of all, using our platform is free – always. Learn more now.