Credit crunch forces companies to drive efficiencies throughout supply chain

The logistics and transport sector has felt the brunt of the dramatically changing economic climate over the past few months. 

Firstly, the industry felt the full impact of the fuel crisis more than most and, although there has been a recent reduction in the cost of fuel, this has been completely off set by the emergence of the credit crunch, which is now forcing companies not only to look for cost savings in terms of fuel consumption, but in every area of each business.

The need to drive efficiencies across the board has increased pressures on the logistics and transport sector measurably.  Already stretched by the fuel crisis, managers are under pressure to dramatically reduce outgoings and are searching for solutions with an almost immediate ROI.

Focusing on vehicle economy, driver style and behaviour undoubtedly can drive significant fuel savings, however, optimising fleet efficiency - ensuring that vehicles are used to their full potential through efficient planning and real-time visibility of fleet activity can all make a significant difference to the bottom line.

Effective tools such as transport management systems should provide the planning and monitoring tools to ensure a vehicle's capacity, both in terms of load and time, are utilised in the most effective manner.  This can help to ensure that each vehicle is making the most economic number of drops and in the most economical number of miles whilst still meeting customer expectations.

It is not just the vehicles that managers need to ensure are working at their most efficient, but drivers as well.  The tools that can help with vehicles can also ensure an operation is getting as much productive work from a driver as possible whilst ensuring compliance with driving and working time regulations.

Matt Hague, director at Microlise, a UK company specialising in delivering transport and distribution solutions, highlights the areas where companies can make savings.  Companies do not need a number of different transport planning and execution solutions to save across the board.  A modular solution that can be customised to meet specific requirements can help monitor every aspect of a companys operation, from planning, vehicle tracking and performance or proof of delivery.  This visibility can help to make substantial savings on the bottom line.

For example, companies operating a medium sized distribution fleet of articulated trucks can expect, with the right solution in place, to drive savings well into five figures per truck on an annual basis.  The combination of effective planning, ensuring that the plan is adhered to and the vehicle is driven safely and efficiently can really help companies through the tough times ahead.

Improving efficiency to reduce carbon footprint is a worthwhile objective, however, in times like these, optimising efficiency and sweating the assets becomes not only a matter of environmental responsibility but also one of sheer survival!

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