The perfect storm of driver, technician and parts shortages afflicting many fleet, transport and logistics operations is not likely to improve any time soon, and businesses need to look at digitising their supply chain operation in order to live with the issues, UK fleet management software provider r2c Online believes.
The shortfall of approximately 90,000 HGV drivers has been making the news recently, but parts and new vehicle supply is also limited due the various factors including a global shortage of semi-conductors and delays from Europe, while the longstanding issue with a lack of technicians is putting workshops under pressure as well.
However, there are ways to mitigate these issues, r2c Online believes, and making sure the supply chain is linked digitally is crucial.
“There is no doubt these issues are going to be around for some time to come,” says Tim Meadows, managing director, r2c Online. “But the problems are not insurmountable if all your supply chain is linked and you have a long-term strategy in place. This means taking a close look at every part of your operation that could be affected by the shortages and understanding where any time and efficiency improvements could be made.
“Take daily vehicle walk-rounds: if these are undertaken using digital reporting then any upcoming issues can be flagged up to management or workshop on a dashboard before they become an immediate problem that needs to be dealt with.
“So if a part is starting to wear, get it flagged and then you can get a timetable in place for ordering a replacement part and booking a workshop slot.
“If you find out too late, then you could have a valuable driver off the road for a day and a vehicle unusable; waiting for a part and a technician is money down the drain. If you are strategic, rather than tactical, then you can free up these important resources.
“As fleets digitise much of their processes through our community platform, time and cost savings can be made throughout the supply chain. As we have seen a significant lack of HGV drivers, we also have a technician shortage and through connected digitised process, we reduce the administrative burden on these highly skilled and valuable resources,” says Tim.
Driver reported defects can quickly and automatically be routed directly to technicians and technical inspections and defect resolution can be monitored in real time and without the need for paperwork.
In addition, r2c Online’s automatic mapping capabilities allow it to take inspection sheets from workshops and close off associated digital tasks, updating key dates and highlighting any upcoming work. The level of saving can be significant to all organisations involved, but are always individual to their structure and needs.
“Digitisation of the entire supply chain, from road to workshop, can help because it can show where there are potential problem areas more quickly, and also provide solutions. Fleets can see where workshops are struggling to control downtime, while workshops can see where there are parts supply issues or surges in work, and plan their scheduling accordingly,” adds Tim.