5 ways tech can improve last mile logistics

5 ways tech can improve last mile logistics
June 9, 2020 Siobhan Lancaster

Let’s face it, last mile transport and delivery can be hard..

With the onset of COVID-19 and the shift to online delivery, it has become apparent to many businesses that the traditional way of doing logistics needs to be re-examined. The good news is, there are now many ways that technology can improve last mile logistics. Here are 5 ways you can improve your last mile logistics:

1. Live track and trace links (particularly for large products or urgent deliveries)

I know what you are all thinking … “live track and trace links” this is obvious.

But if it is so obvious – then why do so few companies do it?

For several reasons: (i) vague status updates and delivery windows are believed to be good enough; (ii) most 3PLs don’t offer it because it’s hard to offer without technology that allows for it.

Here’s why live track and trace links are important.

If a product is urgent or large (i.e. building supplies or large electronics) and it requires a customer to be at the receiver end, customers want to be able to see exactly where their goods are, so that they can be assured their goods are on the way and so that customers don’t have to wait around endlessly.

Live track and trace also makes sense operationally:

(i) Live track and trace links massively reduce futile deliveries, because, customers don’t give up waiting, and are ready at the door when the delivery arrives. Fewer futile deliveries equate to less hassle and less expense.

(ii) Live track and trace links also reduces the number of phone calls from a customer to a business with the simple enquiry “where is my delivery”. This frees up your staff to do more important things, like sell, for example.

2. Automated truck matching algorithms

This brings me to my next point. Automated truck matching systems for on-demand delivery.

Often, when I see customers, I talk to them about servicing their customers with on-demand and same day delivery. Their common complaint is as follows:

“Even when we pay for a premium/VIP delivery, we don’t receive a premium service”.

Often customers wait for hours to have goods picked up. And then to rub salt in the wounds, the truck drives around for hours with their premium delivery onboard, rather than delivering it straight away as promised by the service they have paid for.

This very common situation has eroded trust, so much so, that many companies don’t even bother offering on-demand delivery as a service, preferring to go the cheaper consolidated delivery route instead.

But there is a solution.

Automated truck matching, combined with live track and trace, give businesses the ability to offer on-demand delivery, and trust that the on-demand delivery will be “on-demand”. And for ultimate control and cost reduction customers can string truck or van runs together, on-demand.

By using a service that has a networked and automated truck matching algorithm, such as Perth-based truck matching platform, Instatruck, shippers are able to view the matching process live on their screen at the time of booking, and then track their truck live as it approaches pickup and all the way to drop off.

Automated truck matching algorithms also dramatically improve pickup times, and ensures that the closest best matching truck attends the job. For example, Instatruck’s SMART matching algorithm ensures that 95% of utes turn up at pickup within 17 minutes, and 95% of 5 tonne flatbed within 31 minutes, of entering a job. It also ensures that a truck will always be matched to the job, with 90% of matches occurring in the first 3 mins of entering a job request.

3. Automated run creation algorithms

Route optimisers are common place now, and Google has a very good service that companies can use for single route optimisation. However, if companies wish to truly minimise costs, they need to optimise all shipments simultaneously and not run by run.

Simultaneously optimising all runs together is a difficult and time consuming problem for dispatch to solve. But there are automated run creation algorithms that will save the day, with a decision matrix that takes into account the different truck types required for your product, the cost of each truck being considered, estimated loading and unloading times, route optimisation and other factors specific to your product.

Such an algorithm can achieve significant time and cost savings, and in the future, I would imagine, use of these algorithms, such as the one Instatruck is currently creating, will become the new standard in logistics management.

4. Dynamic Scheduling and Route Optimisation

What is dynamic scheduling and route optimisation? In essence, an urgent job comes into the system, and the system looks for a truck currently on a run and nearby, that has capacity to carry the goods. Once a nearby truck is found, the system then sends it to the pickup and the route is re-optimised for delivery. This dramatically reduces urgent delivery times for consolidated deliveries.

Dynamic scheduling can also be used by companies as a cost saving exercise. It means that trucks that are nearby with capacity are able to pickup goods without sending a new truck the following day to do the same pickup.

Adding jobs to trucks that are nearby sounds obvious. However without tech it is extremely tricky to do. It requires phone calls back and forth to the driver, and leaves room for error and confusion. Technology along with good driver apps are enablers of this solution.

Logistics companies, such as Instatruck, which knows exactly where a truck is and what that truck is doing, enables dynamic scheduling and route optimisation. This together with automated truck matching algorithms for on-demand delivery is the epitome of logistics smarts, saving time and money and improving customer experience.

5. In-built chain of responsibility

Chain of Responsibility (COR) should be a consideration in all aspects of the logistics puzzle, whether it be for last mile logistics or otherwise.  There are certain ways that technology can assist companies to meet their chain of responsibility obligations. One way is the automated on-boarding of trucks and drivers, which dramatically reduces checks being overlooked by companies.

Another way that technology can assist with COR is to ensure that checks and balances, controlled by the driver can be met, and signed off at certain stages in the delivery process. So, for example, if a driver goes on-line, you require them to carry out a pre-start vehicle check. When a driver makes a decision about whether or not to accept a job, you ask them to confirm that they are fit to drive, after having considered all of the details of the job, and so forth. All of these reminders and checks assist companies to manage their COR and improve the safety on the road.

The above tech solutions all help to improve last mile logistics by improving customer experience, operations and costs. Perth-based truck matching platform, Instatruck provides many of these tech solutions for their customers, and has a variety of national and international FMCG, retailers, logistics and building supply companies using their platform. For those of you who already have a great TMS but are still looking to get solutions for your overflow or on-demand transport, contact Instatruck by heading to www.instatruck.com.au.