Technology is affecting every aspect of your business, but investing in technology that affects non-core parts of your business may not be the best use of your working capital.
A recent Transport Topics opinion article addressed how 3PLs and freight brokers will fare with so much new technology and so many changes affecting the industry. From autonomous vehicle technology to transportation management software to consolidation and acquisition, the article posits that 3PLs and freight brokers will need to become more adaptable, invest in automation, and push for greater internal efficiencies.
But if you are a company with a fleet that delivers product to market, your investment in technology should be directly related to your core product, not your transportation needs. Although autonomous trucks are likely a decade or more away from becoming a true presence on the road, at some point, they will play a more prominent role. Since we all know how quickly technology becomes obsolete as new apps, software, and platforms appear and since the cost of new autonomous vehicles will likely be substantial, companies need to assess whether this is the best place to invest.
Opinions may vary on how much companies will be able to save on drivers (although it’s more than likely that a human presence will still be needed in the cab, whether to monitor delivery or actually drive the vehicles). What is clear is that these “driverless” trucks will need to be programmed and maintained and that leads to a need for personnel who can handle these tasks. Finding qualified technicians is already an issue for the industry. Add in the constant advances in technology and the likely need for programmers, and that becomes a true recruitment nightmare.
The same holds true for transportation management systems which are also constantly evolving. Although the cost of this software in no way approaches the cost of an autonomous truck, the same issues exist when it comes to personnel. Finding qualified logistics professionals is becoming increasingly difficult as the availability of such a resource is limited and good people are literally “snatched up” by competitors as soon as they are recognized.
Instead, it may make a great deal of sense to partner with a third party, whether that’s a dedicated contract carrier with contract maintenance or a 3PL to ensure your product gets where it needs to go. As technology changes, the responsibility of keeping up with those changes will rest with those third-party partners, not you. That gives you the time and capital you need to invest in things that will help your business grow; things like R&D, new product development, and expansion into new markets.
Businesses in an increasingly competitive global environment simply don’t have unlimited working capital. Spending that capital on non-core issues (especially technology) is simply not necessary when you have the option of third-party partnerships.
See how NationaLease can help steer you and your fleet in the right direction.