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The High Costs of Manual Processes in Transportation Compliance

February 12, 2024

Staying in compliance is a stringent requirement for the trucking and transportation industry.

Compliance and fleet managers need to ensure vehicle and driver documentation is up-to-date in real-time. Drivers also go through many checks and submit numerous reports daily to ensure the safety of roads, equipment, and society.  

Because the costs of non-compliance are so high, transportation companies spend massive amounts of time and resources to capture information accurately. Without the proper tools and integrations, they expend tons of time and assets to identify gaps. In many cases, they can't always identify the gaps.

Manually managing compliance is hugely time-consuming. Fleet managers may spend 15-20 hours per week double checking paperwork, auditing logs, and catching errors. Even then, things slip through the cracks.

The stakes are high. Trucking companies face heavy fines and violations for lapses in compliance. A single violation can cost thousands of dollars. Beyond the financial impact, non-compliance poses safety risks and liability issues.

Relying on manual processes squanders employee time. Talented staff get bogged down with administrative tasks instead of focusing on core operations and strategy. Constantly playing catch-up leaves little room for optimization and innovation.

Leveraging Technology for Transportation Compliance

The transportation industry generates a tremendous amount of data across various systems - telematics, GPS, electronic logging devices, fuel cards, TMS software, routing systems, and more. Managing and monitoring this data is critical for staying compliant, but doing so manually requires an enormous amount of human capital and effort. Fleets are increasingly turning to technology to automate compliance processes.

AI and machine learning can be leveraged to continuously audit data across multiple systems to identify gaps, errors, and missing information in real-time. Rather than relying on humans to spend hours piecing together data and checking for issues, AI can instantly flag potential compliance risks. For example, AI can cross-reference GPS location data, hours of service logs, vehicle inspection reports, and fuel card usage to identify suspicious or illegal activity.

Integrating telematics, ELDs, TMS software, and other transportation systems allows for seamless data sharing. AI platforms can ingest this unified data for a complete picture of fleet operations. APIs and integrations eliminate manual duplicate data entry, reducing human errors. Real-time dashboards provide visibility into compliance risks as they occur, enabling companies to take preventative action.

Automating compliance processes through AI and system integration improves accuracy, increases efficiency, and reduces regulatory and safety risks. Technology enables proactive compliance monitoring rather than reactive responses after issues arise. Fleets are able to scale operations without exponentially increasing labor costs. The combination of instant data analysis and interconnectivity ensures fleets stay compliant as they grow.

Using AI to Audit Critical Data

Transportation companies deal with a high volume of forms, documents, and data that need to be carefully audited to remain compliant. Driver logs, maintenance records, insurance forms - the list goes on. Manually reviewing all this information is tedious and error-prone. That's why progressive companies are turning to AI to automate the auditing process.

AI-powered software can scan through forms and documents at high speeds to identify any missing or incorrect data. For example, a driver log may be missing a trailer number or have an incorrect timestamp. The AI will instantly flag these issues so they can be remedied in real-time. No more waiting until the end of the week to catch errors.

The AI acts as an extra set of eyes, relentlessly scanning for potential compliance risks. Any discrepancies are automatically sent as alerts to the compliance team for review and correction. By leveraging AI, companies can audit 100% of their data instead of sampling. This translates to more accurate record-keeping and fewer compliance violations.

The instant feedback loop enabled by AI auditing gives peace of mind to compliance managers. They can rest assured knowing all driver logs, maintenance records, BOLs and other documents are being thoroughly vetted by an intelligent system. Resources spent on manual audits can be reallocated to focus on high-value initiatives.

AI auditing catches errors before they propagate and become serious compliance risks or safety issues. It's the smart way to remain inspection-ready at all times. AI doesn't get bored or distracted - it can audit documents and data around the clock. For transportation firms handling vast amounts of paperwork, AI is the ultimate productivity tool to remain compliant.

Connecting Systems for Complete Data

Transportation companies rely on data from various systems - telematics, transportation management systems (TMS), electronic logging devices (ELDs), fuel cards, and more. However, when this data lives in silos and separate systems, it's difficult to get a complete 360-degree view. There are often gaps that prevent companies from ensuring full compliance or maximizing efficiency.

That's why integrating these systems is so critical. By connecting telematics, TMS, ELDs, and fuel cards into a unified platform, fleets can eliminate blindspots. Suddenly you have full visibility into your vehicles, drivers, routes, and expenses.

With a comprehensive view of telematics data like vehicle location, speed, idle time, engine diagnostics, and more, fleets can better monitor vehicle health and utilization. TMS integrations provide details on loads, shipping, and accounting. ELDs feed in hours of service, driver logs, and duty status - critical for compliance. Fuel card integration completes the picture with fuel purchase data and MPG metrics.

When all this data flows into a single AI-powered platform, advanced analytics can identify risks and inefficiencies instantly. Imagine eliminating manual data entry by automatically surfacing missing trailer numbers or gaps in driver logs. This level of real-time vigilance is only possible when systems talk to each other, sharing information to create a truly integrated view across your fleet operations.

Benefits of Automated Compliance Processes

Automating compliance processes with AI and system integrations provides transportation companies with significant benefits:

  • Significant time savings
    Manual compliance checks are hugely time consuming, taking dispatch and compliance teams away from more strategic initiatives. Automation eliminates tedious and repetitive data checks, freeing up employee time.
  • Increased accuracy
    Humans make mistakes, especially when doing repetitive data entry or verification tasks. AI and integrations provide 100% accurate and consistent data audits, eliminating human error.
  • Lower compliance risks
    With real-time data validation and alerts for missing information, compliance risks are caught early. Automation reduces the likelihood of compliance violations due to incorrect or incomplete data.

Improving Fleet Efficiency with AI

The manual processes involved in transportation dispatch and routing often lead to inefficiencies. Dispatchers spend significant time inputting data, juggling phone calls, and tracking down information needed for each load. Without optimization tools, empty miles and inefficient routes eat into profits. AI solutions are revolutionizing fleet efficiency by automating dispatch and route optimization.

AI-powered platforms can ingest load data, driver logs, vehicle locations, and other inputs to recommend the optimal route and loads for each truck. By considering factors like mileage, traffic, weather, hours of service, and more, AI routing minimizes empty miles and identifies the most cost-effective backhauls available. This maximizes the revenue generated per mile for each vehicle.

Real-time ETA tracking is another essential capability. By gathering GPS data and monitoring factors affecting drive time, AI systems provide dispatch and customers with actionable ETAs. Accurate ETAs enable better customer service, prevent late loads, and allow dynamic routing adjustments when needed. With real-time visibility into each load, dispatchers can proactively notify customers of changes, address potential delays, and keep goods flowing efficiently.

AI fleet management platforms improve productivity and remove the complexity of coordinating logistics. Their capabilities automate the busy work that used to bog down human dispatchers, while optimizing routes and visibility across the transportation network. This powerful combination reduces costs, enhances service levels, and boosts profitability.

Enhancing the Driver Experience

Transportation companies rely on their drivers to safely transport goods and be compliant with regulations. However, drivers often deal with frustrating manual processes that waste time and create headaches. AI solutions like Boon aim to enhance the driver experience by streamlining communication, automating settlements, and simplifying document management.

With manual processes, drivers must navigate inefficient communication channels to get critical updates from dispatchers. Constant phone calls disrupt focus and take attention away from the road. Boon offers an integrated AI chatbot to communicate with drivers in real-time via their preferred channel. Drivers get automated delivery updates, eliminating distracting phone calls.

Settlements are another pain point, as drivers must collect paper receipts and logs then manually enter data. This tedious process often leads to payment delays and inaccurate settlements. Boon automates this by instantly collecting EDIs, BOLs, and PODs to calculate accurate settlements delivered to drivers faster.

Document management is streamlined as well. Uploading and organizing paperwork used to mean snapping photos on a phone or carrying around bulky binders. Boon integrates document systems so all paperwork is automatically collected and digitized for easy access. Drivers can find any document in seconds on the mobile app.

Increasing Profitability

Using AI and integrated systems can significantly increase fleet profitability in two key ways:

  • Reducing operating costs
    Much of the time and cost associated with manual compliance processes is eliminated through automation. Fleets no longer need to dedicate extensive employee hours to redundant data checks, paperwork, and reporting. AI systems like Boon's can automatically connect data sources, identify discrepancies, and alert managers. This reduces labor overhead and frees up staff to focus on higher value tasks.

    Integrations also consolidate processes that were previously manual and siloed. For example, combining data from telematics and fuel cards gives instant visibility into vehicle usage metrics. This prevents issues like unauthorized trailer use that drive up costs. AI recommendations also optimize routes by reducing deadhead miles. Less time on the road means lower fuel expenses, wear and tear, and payroll costs.
  • Maximizing revenue per mile
    AI unlocks opportunities to maximize revenue per mile through enhanced load management. Recommendation engines can automatically source better loads based on parameters like location, rates, driver hours, and more. This allows companies to secure the most profitable freight.

    Split load capabilities also let fleets maximize trailer space. Partial loads that may normally go unused can be combined and priced appropriately. AI tracks cargo through the entire delivery process, letting dispatchers sell available capacity. This opens up additional revenue streams without any additional overhead.

    In essence, AI handles the busy work so dispatchers and managers can focus on high impact tasks that drive growth. Companies can transport more freight in less time while keeping costs in check. This ultimately leads to expanded margins and profitability. AI fleet management platforms pay for themselves many times over through savings and revenue gains

The Future of AI in Transportation

The transportation industry is rapidly adopting artificial intelligence to streamline operations and improve efficiency. As the technology continues to advance, AI promises to deliver even more transformative capabilities for transportation companies.

One major development on the horizon is fully autonomous commercial fleets. While still several years away from becoming mainstream, self-driving trucks have the potential to reshape the industry by eliminating the need for human drivers. This would cut labor costs, allow for longer driving hours, and reduce accident rates caused by human error. Companies are already testing autonomous trucks, and their capabilities are steadily improving. AI handles tasks like maintaining speed, changing lanes, and braking automatically. Over the next decade, self-driving trucks could start handling longer hauls and uncomplicated highway routes. If autonomous fleets live up to their promise, they may become a dominant force in trucking and logistics.

AI systems will also continue expanding their capabilities when it comes to automating transportation processes from end-to-end. AI already powers solutions that plan routes, match loads to trucks, track shipments, predict ETAs, optimize fuel usage, connect systems, audit compliance data, and much more. As the technology advances, AI will be able to handle an increasingly wide range of planning, optimization, prediction, and execution tasks autonomously. Companies are already developing AI platforms that integrate and automate solutions across the entire supply chain. More comprehensive AI systems that require less and less human supervision seem inevitable.

Beyond fleet automation, AI also promises to deliver innovations in areas like predictive maintenance, dynamic pricing, enhanced security, voice-controlled assistants, self-optimizing networks, and more. The rapid pace of progress in artificial intelligence means transportation companies will have many more opportunities to leverage these advanced capabilities in the future.

Deepti Yenireddy

Founder

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