Business, Tech

Trucking in the Cloud: How Cloud Computing is Changing the Way Carriers do Business

The globe has never been more interconnected. A blender ordered in Sacramento can be manufactured in China, shipped to Canada, warehoused in Seattle, and shipped to the customer’s doorstep all in the span of a week. Linking all of this together is a vast web of suppliers and carriers, whose actions are managed through the implementation of supply chain management. As the global supply chain has grown, so too has the use and implementation of cloud computing, especially among trucking businesses. How is cloud computing changing supply chain management for carriers?

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The term “cloud computing” may seem esoteric, but, according to Microsoft, cloud computing is “the delivery of computing services… over the internet.” Because cloud-based software is hosted on a server and delivered over the internet, it is scalable, which means that you don’t have to change your IT infrastructure as your company grows. Furthermore, cloud-based software is accessible from anywhere in the world. The manufacturers in China and the distributors in the United States have access to the exact same software at the exact same time, which means that everybody can learn about a hitch in the supply chain as soon as it happens.

Carriers can immediately begin making contingency plans if, say, the goods are going to be shipped out half a day late thanks to some bad weather in Shanghai. As Supply and Demand Chain Executive notes, Adopting cloud-based software saves both time and money in this way.

Cloud computing is also changing the relationship between carriers and customers. Customers expect transparency, now more than ever. Transport Topics refers to this as the “Amazon Effect.” People buy all sorts of things on Amazon for their personal lives, from food to electronics to garden tools. Consumers aren’t the only ones who benefit from sites like Amazon– Wholesalers are also taking advantage of discounted used/refurbished goods by purchasing Amazon customer returns pallets online from liquidators.

The site provides shoppers with information about ratings, delivery times, and prices for new and used products, and it allows them control over options like quantity and payment methods. From a customers’ perspective, why shouldn’t their carrier offer a similar degree of transparency? Cloud-based software helps carriers reach the same level of transparency that customers have come to expect from other online experiences. It also helps carriers spend more time managing their business (“how are we going to get that late shipment from Seattle to Sacramento on time?”) and less answering customer questions (“How much would it cost to ship it to Modesto instead?”).

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Furthermore, cloud computing is changing the way fleets themselves are managed. For example, take a software platform for the heavy-duty trucking industry software platform for the heavy-duty trucking industry like FleetPal Connect. FleetPal is built to help manage and track fleet assets. FleetPal centralizes truck information like repair and warranty timetables so that managers, owner-operators, and maintenance technicians will all have access to the same information. According to Truckinginfo magazine, the advent of cloud software has helped small fleets compete with larger fleets. In fact, small carriers who were previously unable to afford the IT department overheads of larger carriers can now access the same software as the big boys. This has put pressure on large carriers to become more nimble.

Cloud computing is only one of several technological advances transforming trucking. Companies like Uber and Amazon are moving into the market with on-demand trucking apps. Tesla has recently released plans for an all-electric heavy-duty truck. Self-driving trucks took to the streets a year ago. The best that managers can do is stay informed and prepared, knowing that what is true today may not be true tomorrow. The future is barreling towards us, carrying a heavy cargo of change, whether we want it to or not.

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