The 2008 crisis has left its mark. Despite the economic recovery, the road freight transport (RFT) landscape is still feeling the strain ten years later. Competitive pressure, globalization of trade and the disappearance of long-standing players have been the contributory factors. As a result, the sector is now facing a growing phenomenon of freight transport shortages. In rising to this challenge, transport management technologies are a real boon for manufacturers and distributors.
45,000 is the estimated number of new drivers (of trucks, buses and ambulances) that will have to be trained in 2018 to keep pace with the sector’s annual renewal needs and net job creation. The only problem is that it is proving difficult to attract candidates. As noted by the CNR (French road freight transport economic committee) in its 2018 report on the outlook for RFT and the costs involved, “companies view their hiring difficulties as the main obstacle to the development of their business.”
Despite significant mobilization of professional associations and organizations on the sector, the job’s poor image and competition from Eastern European countries are impacting the employment of drivers in France and in Europe … The conclusion is clear: at a time when the volumes carried are rising, drivers are increasingly thin on the ground.
A supply-dominated market
As a result, the market is becoming dominated by the supply. This is leading to a double whammy for shippers: a rise in prices – the CNR forecasts non-diesel cost price inflation in 2018 of between 1.4% and 2.2% – but also growing uncertainty about its capacity resources.
Faced with these risks, companies are having to adapt their transport strategies. The contribution of new technologies and digitization of the sector, through collaborative management tools, offer some answers to these problem sets.
TMS and collaborative platforms ride to the rescue
To cope with this shortage, TMS (Transport Management System) solutions dedicated to shippers, such as DDS Shipper, provide invaluable assistance.
Firstly, these tools allow shippers to pre-calculate their needs and share these forecasts with carriers, who can reserve capacity for their regular customers. In addition, a TMS reduces transport capacity needs by optimizing the consolidation of orders into a single shipment.
And should an unforeseen event arise, the TMS warns of a failure to handle the shipments, automatically seeking alternative transport arrangements to compensate for the shortfall.
Another advantage of a TMS is the way it facilitates the work done by carriers, by eliminating a whole series of hidden costs: less waiting time, less administrative and financial management but also less stress. Interacting around a collaborative platform allows them to automatically receive their transport orders and fix appointments more easily, etc. The result is smoother and automated exchange source processes, facilitating collaboration and a long-term relationship.
Pooling for an optimized service
The shortage is also accelerating the process of pooling transport between businesses. To this end, new systems have been developed for fast and dynamic identification of batches that can be consolidated between multiple shippers. This is the case of the digital platform Join2ship. Open to all, from key accounts to SMEs, it provides all players in the sector with a simple and collaborative solution for sharing transport between companies.
Towards a virtuous circle
A positive aspect worth noting is that this shortage, however detrimental, highlights the importance of the transport factor when it comes to the reliability and overall cost of a supply chain. This realization is giving supply chain managers the means to launch a global review of optimization and digitization of their transport chains.
This shortage also demonstrates the value of a long-term collaboration between shippers and carriers, which serves as the basis for ongoing improvements to efficiency and service quality.