By Mike Maris
For most drivers, the cab is both their office and command center. As operations become more complex and more technology-driven, drivers need to have high-speed connectivity to information, whether they’re inside or outside the cab. Inside, the focus is on driving efficiency: providing safe, timely and regulatory-approved access to up-to-the-minute data on metrics, routes, schedules, deliveries and much more. Outside, the focus is on enhanced customer service. Drivers must be able to intuitively and seamlessly document deliveries and service and interact with suppliers and customers.
The question is: What’s the best way of ensuring this inside-and-outside connectivity?
Today, there are basically two models for onboard mobile computing: a “fat” model and a “thin” model. In the former, network and vehicle connectivity and computing power are centered on onboard mobile or vehicle-mounted computers for applications such as telematics and navigation. These are augmented by portable handheld computing devices for outside-the-cab activities such as proof of pickup and delivery and completion of driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIR).
As companies focus on reducing cost and improving productivity, many are choosing to consolidate and streamline the in-cab environment with a “thin” configuration. In this “thin” model, network and vehicle connectivity and computing power are provided by innovative new handheld devices that consolidate both functionalities (in-cab and out) in a single portable unit. These ruggedized handheld devices are capable of running powerful applications, providing instantaneous access to the cloud and the Transportation Management System (TMS) and enabling real-time visibility and accurate business-critical communications throughout all aspects of fleet management.
Which model is best for you?
That’s both a strategic and tactical decision to be made in the context of your overall supply chain vision, network and system. Whichever model you select, it’s clear that mobile computing devices and next-generation applications that help manage and maintain your devices will play an increasingly important role in helping you provide not only accurate pickup and delivery services to inspire customer confidence and loyalty, but also enhancing the efficiency and cost effectiveness of how you manage your workforce, maintain your fleet, and optimize your routes.
Mike Maris is the T&L Principal Consultant, Global Services and Solutions for Motorola Solutions, Inc. Contact him with any questions at Mike.Maris@motorolasolutions.com.
Read other blogs by Mike Maris here.
For more information on best practices in mobile technology for Pick-up and Delivery Solutions, please read “Next Generation Pickup and Delivery Puts the Customer in the Driver’s Seat.”
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