Home Truck News Transportation technology, offshoring, among keys to success: Heather Devine - Truck News

Transportation technology, offshoring, among keys to success: Heather Devine – Truck News

Heather Devine, the chief legal officer of Traffix, left little doubt about the theme of her latest legal update for the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) annual conference.

“Money, money, money, money,” she said, stressing she had no plans to scare the crowd of private fleet managers with stories about economic challenges. “It’s time to think about success, and it’s time to think about how people are going to be making money.”

Such a focus involves decreasing costs and increasing revenue. In trucking, she said, that refers to investments in route optimization, maintenance management, freight market intelligence, and fleet management software. Carrier-managed scheduling, for example, can reduce the time wasted while loading and unloading.

New revenue, meanwhile, emerges with expanded service, optimized routes, and a focus on customer service.

Heather Devine, the chief legal officer of Traffix
Heather Devine, the chief legal officer of Traffix, says there are several paths for transportation companies to make more money. (Photo: Staff)

“You have to embrace technology and automation,” Devine added, stressing the need to have someone at every meeting who embraces artificial intelligence (AI). It helped her organize thoughts for the same presentation. “Embrace it, figure out how to use it … The people who are going to make money are going to find other people who have embraced AI.”

The technical tools can help analyze historical data to forecast demand, Devine explained.

Hiring external AI talent can introduce the skillset to the organization more quickly, she added. “Put them right in your finance department.”

Monitor conflicts and adjust contract language

There will undoubtedly be bumps in the road along the journey to any business success. But while conflict will be a reality, issues like labor unrest at CN and CP can be predicted, she said. That involves monitoring economic indicators and political developments, analyzing customer behavior, and looking at competitors.

Understanding such issues can steer contract language that relates to force majeure, she added, referring to the provisions that free parties from their obligations in the face of an extraordinary event. “This is how you get out of liability if there’s labor unrest.”

For example, a contract amendment could address what would happen in the event of a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) work slowdown.

Recruiting and retaining talent

Retaining talent plays its own role in ensuring a business remains on the right path.

Success here, Devine stressed, includes factors like competitive compensation, career development opportunities, work-life balance, recognition and appreciation, and safety and wellness initiatives.

“Make sure you take the steps now to retain your drivers,” she said. “The people that successfully figure out how to retain their drivers are going to be the ones that make more money.”

Monetize the intangibles like fleet data

Some money can also be hiding in intangible assets that are otherwise not monetized, Devine said, noting how data on product movements might be valuable to other shippers, brokers or carriers. Trademarks can be secured for just $500, too.

“There’s a lot of value that you are probably sitting on with all the knowledge you have and all the data and the telematics,” she said. “It’s like found money in your pocket.”

Real-time visibility into an operation will also enable better decision making, improved communication, and proactive problem solving, she said, referring to the value of working with customers, carriers and brokers to optimize routes and consolidate shipments.

Explore offshoring and nearshoring

Offshoring and nearshoring offer other benefits in the form of cost savings, round-the-clock support, and scalability. But they also provide access to specialized skills that may not be readily available locally, Devine said.

Mexico presents a number of additional opportunities for supply chains, she added, referring to an industrial railway developed between the ports of Salina Cruz and Coatzacoalcos, linking the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Supported by adjacent free trade zones and industrial areas, it’s also reshaping the way goods from Asia will arrive in the U.S. and Canada.

Those who look at such evolving supply chains will be able to realize new opportunities in surface transportation, she said.

That will generate more money. And that’s what every business leader wants.


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