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The Road to Fix the Massive Truck Driver Shortage is Paved with Data

Truck Driver Shortage

Hidden in the furor about disrupted supply chains is how the experience of the drivers delivering all those goods directly impacts the customer experience. That’s where Wise Systems comes in, offering artificial intelligence (AI)-based delivery management platform that originated at the Media Lab at MIT when three of the company’s co-founders responded to a professor’s challenge to find the best way to change one billion lives with data.

“The free flow of goods is the lifeblood of communities,” said Allison Parker, vice president of Marketing at Wise Systems. “We decided to apply machine learning to real-time data that captures what’s happening on the ground so organizations can better plan and continuously improve every last-mile route and delivery. Drivers have an intuitive, easier experience managing their schedule directly from their mobile devices, while fleet managers have up-to-the-minute plan tracking for resource allocation and utilization.”

Data Intelligence Drives Seamless Delivery Experience

Fast forward to a post-pandemic world facing an 80,000 driver shortage in the U.S. alone, and Wise Systems is leaving a legacy of “dispatch and routing” systems in the dust. Clients in the food and beverage industry, as well as courier companies, rely on Wise Systems to synthesize orders by product volume, location, and time frames into a delivery stop for truck fleets and other vehicles. Fleet managers, dispatchers, and drivers can make tweaks, factoring in their knowledge, including customer preferences. The system monitors traffic and weather conditions in real-time, alerting dispatchers to potential risks that could jeopardize scheduled deliveries.

“Automating the routing process for the perfect, seamless experience requires intelligence upfront, along with ongoing monitoring as each day unfolds,” said Parker. “Drivers appreciate having full visibility into all the data about every delivery stop, including the number of products they’re expected to deliver. All they need to do is swipe in and out when they arrive and leave. The system can also record proof of delivery. They can also leave notes for themselves or future drivers on our secure app, such as a passcode for a loading dock.”

Machine Learning Perfectly Choreographs Route Plans

Contrary to misconceptions, behind the wheel is not necessarily where drivers spend the bulk of their time. It’s the on-site visits that eat up the greatest number of minutes during the course of a day. The machine learning models in Wise Systems calculate route plans based on historical and real-time data. Meantime, delivery companies can set delivery status notifications as well, allowing clients to receive updates at specified intervals.

“The system can more accurately predict service times, taking into account the time it takes to complete a stop and factoring in the preferences of the retailer, hotel, medical institution, or other types of client,” said Parker. “The goal is route planning efficiency combined with customer service so people receive their inventory when and where they expect it; this is the number one priority of our clients.”

From a fleet management perspective, machine learning also helps keep vehicles fully utilized to maximum capacity for both route efficiencies and more sustainable business. One global food and beverage client reduced late deliveries by 80, decreasing fleet mileage by up to 15%. On-time deliveries can contribute to a company’s carbon reduction goals as it reduces redeliveries.

Capturing Performance Metrics with Data Analytics

Wise Systems also serves up analytics that managers and drivers find valuable. Fleet managers can immediately see everything from inventory volumes on the road and delivered, to driver times at any point in the workday. They can benchmark that data against the company’s performance metrics that typically vary depending on the type of vehicle and amount of goods. They can make fleet size adjustments to better meet vehicle utilization and sustainable business targets. Some clients have increased their fleet utilization on average by 20 percentage points. Data helps individual drivers see where they stand too, as many are compensated with performance premiums for on-time deliveries.

SAP.iO Expands Market Opportunities

When the Wise Systems team participated in the COVID-19 recovery cohort of SAP.iO Foundry New York City, they discovered new market opportunities.

“We learned so much about customer needs from SAP experts,” said Parker. “Integrating information from Wise Systems with SAP S/4HANA is a great example of how companies are using connected data between ERP systems, such as order and warehouse management, finance, and last-mile logistics operations and back, to become intelligent enterprises.”

Wise Systems is available on SAP Store.

Modern Experience Can Help Solve the Driver Shortage

Recruiting and retaining drivers for last-mile delivery is just one segment of the disrupted supply chain, but it’s a big one. Anything organizations can do to improve the quality of their day-to-day experience matters. As companies modernize the systems that power vast supply chains, don’t leave the truck driver’s experience behind.

Source: SAP

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