The financial ebb and flow of the trucking business is a well-documented phenomenon. In fact, during the Great Recession of 2008, the trucking industry—along with retail, travel and several others—was one of the hardest hit. But today, the industry whose drivers crisscross America’s highways delivering products to stores, food to restaurants and fuel to the masses is making a comeback … at least from a financial perspective.

By the end of 2018, shipping costs are expected to increase so much that companies like Tyson Foods have already allocated millions of dollars in their budgets to cover it. The unique coalescence of economic growth, increased demand and a driver shortage with no end in sight has created market conditions that are difficult but extremely profitable for carriers.

However, all good things must come to an end, and the current environment of high demand and limited supply will eventually normalize, perhaps giving rise to another recession. So, rather than waiting for the inevitable readjustment, here are a few ways fuel carriers can proactively future proof their fleet with technology that maximizes margins during the lean years.

Best Buy

No, I’m not referring to the consumer electronics retail chain. I’m talking about fuel pricing. Sure, best buy pricing has been around for a while, but it remains one of the easiest ways for fuel carriers to execute effective pricing strategies that ensure they get the best rack price, quickly adapt to fluctuating changes in demand, and ultimately boost their bottom line. Fuel pricing is always evolving, and it’s imperative that you have the tools to adapt to that increasing complexity.

Route Optimization

When it comes to charting the best, most efficient pick-up and delivery routes, if your dispatchers are still looking at a map and going with their gut, you’re losing money. It’s that simple. Route optimization software can evaluate data from multiple sources, including geographic information, travel times and more, to establish the quickest route between the terminal and your delivery locations. The benefits of implementing this technology are proven and tangible, with considerable reported savings from reductions in travel time and improvements in fuel consumption, to name a few.

Minutes matter even after a driver completes an optimized route. Enabling your driver to determine how much fuel is needed using IP or gauge polling could save hours a day.

Let’s Talk Telematics

In recent years, the telematics train has begun leaving the station, and a recent survey by C.J. Driscoll and Associates suggests that many fleet operators are realizing the need to get on board. And rightfully so. Telematics enable carrier companies to track equipment, monitor driver performance, predict truck failure and spot maintenance needs, among other things. The advantages—such as reducing shrink, decreasing fuel costs, and improving productivity and safety—are numerous, particularly for fuel carriers whose cargo is heavily regulated and potentially dangerous if not handled with care.

For carriers that want to thrive in the digital economy despite economic ups and downs, technology is not only an equalizer, it’s a competitive advantage. So, take a moment, and think about the areas in your operation where technology could help you improve efficiency, increase productivity and maximize your margins in any economic climate. Then, contact the people who can help!

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