Hours of Service (HOS)

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Hours of Service (HoS) is a term used in the commercial motor vehicle industry to note how many hours a fleet vehicle driver or technician is allowed to operate a single vehicle or group of vehicles over a given period. HoS measurements typically reset every 24 hours, each week, or in some cases, per month. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) determines the laws that dictate how many hours an operator may drive a commercial motor vehicle. This agency sets the limits on the legal number of hours drivers can legally be on-duty (actively driving) before they must go into off-duty mode.

The History of Hours of Service and How HoS Rules Have Changed In Recent Years 

In the earliest days of commercial driving, operators did not even keep logs of their on- and off-duty hours. It was not until the 1940s that companies understood that they were underwriting an unnecessary risk associated with allowing drivers too few breaks. Around this time, the government passed laws mandating the use of paper logbooks, which were still common through 2017 when the rules began to change. 

On February 16th, 2016, the federal government enacted laws specifying the proper use of electronic logging devices (ELDs), and by December 16, 2019, all fleet businesses had to be in compliance. This meant that drivers who wanted to could continue maintaining a paper log, but their hours must also be recorded automatically by ELDs installed aboard all commercial fleet vehicles. 

The logs created by ELDs are called eLogs and are widely known to be far more accurate than paper logs. This high level of precision makes ELDs desirable for fleet service management companies who want precise, unimpeachable records. They are also well-liked among drivers who wish to ensure they get the pay and recognition they deserve for all the time they have worked — right down to the nanosecond.

Proponents and Opponents of ELDs for Tracking HoS 

As discussed above, most companies and drivers appreciate the newfound accuracy offered by ELDs. But there are still some companies and drivers who continue to oppose their use. Mainly, drivers oppose the use of ELDs because they provide tremendous insights to field managers about precisely where drivers and technicians are, what they are doing, and whether they are en route to a job or taking a break. ELDs even tell managers exactly when and where fleet drivers brake too harshly, idle for too long, or otherwise endanger their vehicles’ engine health. 

Some companies also oppose the need for ELDs for tracking hours of service. They claim their drivers are capable of managing their HoS manually without making mistakes. But not only is this untrue, but it also covers up a bigger story, which is that some companies would prefer that their drivers' hours not be accurately logged to keep them on the road longer than is legal. 

This practice creates hazardous conditions for drivers and those who share the road with them. Overly tired drivers can cause accidents and may resort to consuming dangerous amounts of caffeine and other stimulants to keep their bosses happy. Even so, their reaction times slow, and they risk the possibility of falling asleep at the wheel.

With ELDs and the ELD mandate in place, the commercial drivers and others on the road are all safer. What's more, ELDs ensure that field service-based companies avoid the very severe liabilities they could face without this accurate tracking.

Many organizations suggest that going over hours of service is dangerous for drivers and other motorists and wholly unnecessary now that there are so many ways to make fleet vehicle routing so efficient. 

Organizations that strongly support the use of ELDs for tracking HoS include the Trucking Alliance for Safety and Security, the American Trucking Associations, and the Advocates for Highway Safety, among others. The main reasons for this support have to do with roadway safety and a collective desire to move fleet-based businesses into the 21st century with safety-enhancing technology.

Hours of service is one of the most important metrics a fleet-based business can track, and ELDs are the most reliable way to do this. To learn more about ELDs and how they work with fleet management software or more comprehensive solutions for field service management from Azuga, get in touch with us today.


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Last Mile Delivery

Last mile delivery is the step in delivery when something moves from a transportation hub to its final destination, such as a residence or a retail store. This step must be as quick and efficient as possible to ensure that customers are satisfied, and products move as much as possible. What is last mile delivery, and how can businesses perfect it? 

Steps of Last Mile Delivery

There are five steps to last mile delivery to go through to ensure it is accurate and efficient. 

  1. Enter orders into a centralized system
    You've been tracking the order all along. At this point, the customer is most likely also tracking it through a tracking number. It’s essential that you track the order to know precisely where it is if they have any questions along the way. 
  1. Orders arrive at the transportation hub. 
    Last mile delivery begins at this step. From here, the business must ensure that the order gets to the customer as quickly and efficiently as possible. 
  1. Designate delivery personnel. 
    Designate delivery personnel to deliver the parcel using a last-mile logistics solution. 
  1. Load orders onto delivery vehicles. 
    Scan each item before loading them onto the delivery vehicles. This is an important part of tracking as it updates the sender and the recipient as to the order's status. You don’t want anything to get lost along the way. 
  1. The order reaches the recipient. 
    Once the order reaches the customer, the last mile delivery process is complete. Be sure to update the tracking information to indicate the item has been delivered. 

Last Mile Delivery Challenges

Big-name companies like Amazon and Walmart are replacing last mile delivery with middle mile delivery. With middle mile delivery, the company owns the fulfillment, so the delivery process goes from the port to the fulfillment center. The problem with last mile delivery is that it is expensive: it can account for 53% of a shipment’s total costs. Supply chain inefficiencies are increasing as need grows, and so costs are only going up. It’s vital to optimize last mile delivery if you want to use it for your business. 

How to Optimize Last Mile Delivery

Technology is the answer to optimizing last mile delivery. Route planning software, for example, can minimize delivery costs and cut the time that it takes to deliver. Auto dispatching also helps to cut down on mistakes and time. Finally, gathering data and getting detailed reports can help identify problems in your operations and tell you how to improve upon your weaknesses. Fleet management software like Azuga offers all of these features and more to help optimize your last mile delivery options. 

Conclusion

Last mile delivery is still the standard way smaller businesses do their deliveries, and Azuga makes it possible to keep last mile delivery, even while competing with big retailers. Find out more about Azuga by reading our blog or visiting our website.

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Last Mile Carrier

Last mile carriers are the shipping companies that carry out last mile deliveries. Examples of last mile carriers include UPS, FedEx, USPS, and regional carriers. Last mile delivery is the step in delivery when something moves from a transportation hub to its final destination, which may be a residence or a retail store. Last mile carriers offer many benefits, which we will outline below. 

Tracking

Many last mile carriers allow customers to track their package on a map or see how many stops away it is. Other providers give customers a very specific estimated arrival time. Previously, it could only be estimated within windows of several hours, so this is an impressive and essential feat for customer service. 

Ability to Communicate with the Driver

If anything is needed when delivery drivers are on the road, it used to be impossible to get in touch with them. Now, apps allow customers to communicate directly with their drivers to update them on any changes that come up during the delivery window. 

SMS Updates

One benefit of tracking drivers is sending SMS updates if a package is ever delayed, and even update customers on when it arrives so they can plan their day accordingly. They no longer need to worry about expensive packages being lost or stolen, since they can pick them up right away. It’s ideal for keeping customers updated and satisfied. 

Delivery Ratings

Customers can rate how their deliveries went and leave feedback that delivery companies can use to improve their methods and improve customer service even further. Customers appreciate their voices being heard, and companies need to hear how their employees are doing. 

Conclusion

Last mile carriers are an integral part of the last mile delivery system. Last mile fleets must have the technology to track delivery drivers and update customers with necessary information. Azuga offers this technology and more to help streamline operations and keep everything running smoothly with the entire last mile delivery process. Find out more on our website.

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Middle Mile Delivery

The middle mile in logistics is the part of a supply chain that moves goods from the port to the warehouse or distribution center. It’s also known as local distribution and offers cost-saving opportunities that companies using last-mile delivery don't see. How exactly does middle mile delivery work, and how is it different than last mile delivery? 

Middle Mile versus Last Mile Delivery

Last mile delivery is the delivery of products from a fulfillment center to a retail store or customer. Meanwhile, middle mile delivery takes products from a factory or port to a fulfillment center. Middle mile delivery uses technology to track vehicles, schedule deliveries, and determine the capabilities of the truckers and fulfillment centers. 

Advantages of Middle Mile Delivery

Reduces Costs: Since middle mile delivery involves owning the distribution center and the retail store, you control both ends of the supply chain. Therefore, you reduce inefficiencies and inaccuracies and have complete control over where the money goes. 

Can Change Quickly: Because you have complete control over the supply chain, you can make changes quickly and adapt to them easily. It’s easy to grow your business and meet demands as they shift. 

More Competitive: Many companies take advantage of middle mile delivery to cut costs, which helps you stay on par with your competitors. It’s crucial to compete with retail giants like Walmart and Amazon, who have perfected middle mile delivery. 

Third-Party Logistics Services

Many third parties offer logistics services to help manage middle mile delivery. On-demand service providers create the most efficient and quickest deployment of middle mile delivery. Some of these services offer smaller hauling vehicles to make LTL deliveries or single-pallet deliveries. They also harness freelancers to get a cost advantage over competitors. There are many third-party logistics companies available. Just be sure to research what you are looking for and ensure they are a good fit for your needs. 

Conclusion

Middle mile delivery is the new trend in logistics that large companies are adopting, and small companies will likely join in as well. To find out more about the trends in logistics, check out more of Azuga’s glossary, or read our blog.

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