GPS technology has changed the world in innumerable ways, but its impact has arguably been the greatest within the transportation industry. With GPS devices and navigation apps at their disposal, drivers, truck drivers, and couriers have been able to transform how they plan and execute their deliveries. As a result, companies have been able to reduce their transportation-related costs, grow the number of customers they serve (or the area to which they deliver), and increase customer satisfaction.
As with any integral work tool, many drivers and their companies are keen to ensure they have the best GPS technology at their disposal. There are many articles like this one from PCMag about how to choose the best GPS. But what makes one the best GPS for delivery drivers? And how exactly does a GPS navigation app help drivers address challenges in their job? In this article, we’ll look at what drivers do and the challenges they face. Finally, we’ll discuss what GPS is and how it can help address some of the challenges facing drivers.
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The Delivery Driver – Responsibilities and Challenges
It’s safe to say that services related to shipping deliveries have increased in recent years, in part due to growth in online shopping, as well as an increase in urban populations, and advances in technology. Customers have come to expect these services for everything, from groceries to household goods, hot meals, mattresses, and more.
From a human resource perspective, the increase in services offered by companies of all sizes has also led to an increased demand for skilled employees.
In this section, we’ll take a look at the duties of these employees and the challenges they face in their job.
What Does a Delivery Driver Do?
A delivery driver is responsible for last-mile service – getting products and parcels to their final destination. They use various modes of transport, including cars, trucks, vans, and mopeds/scooters, to complete their deliveries.
All sorts of businesses hire them to carry out their services – from post offices to pizza outlets and everything in between. Sometimes they are part of the company’s staff, while in other cases a company may outsource its deliveries to a courier company.
The following are some of the typical responsibilities:
- Loading parcels/packages – checking parcels against shipping papers, loading parcels into the vehicle with care,
- Determining the best route – reading and analyzing maps to identify the most efficient route (i.e., least amount of time and gas used)
- Vehicle maintenance – checking the vehicle at the beginning of each shift for oil, gas, and safety (i.e., brakes, wipers, etc.) and completing minor repairs (e.g., changing tires, adding coolant)
- Driving the vehicle – Driving while following traffic laws and adhering to safety measures. Depending on the car used, the driver may need to obtain an exclusive license to operate it.
- Delivering packages – Providing customers with packages, collecting signatures, collecting payments (in some cases), returning packages,
- Keeping track of packages – recording all deliveries and providing reports to dispatcher/manager
- Reporting issues – advising management/dispatch of traffic delays, phone calls, control/update, breakdowns, emergencies, or other problems that arise.
The above list of responsibilities is by no means exhaustive, but it does demonstrate that drivers are responsible for many vital tasks. The ability of these employees to complete these duties in a timely and accurate manner can significantly impact the company’s bottom line as well as customer satisfaction levels. It is, therefore, prudent of companies to provide their drivers with training and tools that can assist them in completing their duties more accurately and efficiently.
Challenges Faced by the Industry
These operators face many challenges in the completion of their duties. The challenges are multiplied in this era of Covid-19. In this section, however, we will focus on problems explicitly related to the delivery duties.
Traffic Disruptions – Even the best-planned route can become a nightmare filled with delays and detours when there’s construction, heavy traffic, an accident, or poor driving conditions. These traffic disruptions can throw a driver’s entire route plan into disarray and result in delayed deliveries, uncompleted deliveries, and unhappy customers.
Need for Speed –There is lots of pressure to complete their deliveries faster. The need for speed correlates with bottom-line costs and customer satisfaction. On the other hand, companies must balance speedy deliveries with adherence to traffic laws and commitment to safe driving.
Safety Concerns – Safety is a significant concern and includes road safety, on-site safety (e.g., delivery to unsafe neighborhoods, construction sites, etc.), length requirements, cargo requirements, and safe interactions with customers.
Parking Challenges – A significant issue to contend with in dense, urban centers is a lack of available parking near their delivery destination. If loading zones are not available, delivery drivers may end up resorting to double-parking or other illegal/questionable parking solutions. Again, this circles back to the pressure they are under to be fast and efficient in deliveries.
Becoming Familiar with New Routes – Another challenge revolves around learning the routes they are assigned. If they are always assigned the same routes, the delivery driver will become familiar with the ins and outs of their path and find efficiencies over time. On the other hand, if they’re regularly assigned to complete new routes, it can be overwhelming.
Become Aware of Special locations – There may be particular locations in the city that can cause problems. For instance, there are common areas with disruptions, areas where certain vehicles can’t drive quickly, specific exit requirements on roadways, etc.
What is a GPS, and How Does it Work?
GPS stands for the global positioning system. It’s a navigation system the uses satellite technology to provide real-time location information based on data transmitted from approximately 30 satellites orbiting the Earth. In addition to providing location information, it can also provide traffic information, as well as accurate speed data and estimated travel times. For example, GPS technology in a smartwatch can provide information on the speed/pace of the user, as well as a route planner for multiple stops, a map display, and more. Car or truck GPS for navigation technology can provide an estimated travel time/time of arrival based on the distance to destination, speed limits, and the speed the vehicle is traveling.
GPS technology can be embedded in physical devices, such as a watch or a stand-alone navigation unit, such as a Garmin, or it can be integrated into a navigation app that’s downloadable on iPhones, iPads, Androids, and tablets. Google Maps is one example of technology that uses GPS into today’s mobile phones as a default app.
How Does a GPS Routefinder Help?
Many features can help, here’s but a shortlist:
Efficient Scheduling – GPS technology can help dispatchers and drivers with up-to-date information on route options, places, and directions. This enables them to identify the best route and more efficiently schedule their deliveries.
Saves Time on Route – A GPS navigation app can save time on each trip by identifying potential time-eaters (e.g., heavy traffic, road construction) and re-routing the driver to avoid these areas. Route optimization is one of the main features of GPS and can save time and money for the business while reducing frustration.
Real-Time Tracking – GPS enables real-time tracking, which is especially helpful if the customer must be home to receive the package. By providing delivery tracking information to the customer, users are less likely to encounter situations where the customer is not home or misses the delivery. Ultimately, this saves the delivery driver time and enhances customer satisfaction.
Aids in Learning – GPS units can help a driver become more familiar with their route over time, replacing paper maps that are big and awkward. Importantly, a GPS will also provide map updates based on the latest data – it identifies new roads that you don’t find on a paper map, and these updates happen automatically on the GPS map.
Driver & Vehicle Safety – GPS tracking can alert the driver and dispatcher to any unusual vehicle activity in real-time that could be related to vehicle theft or other unexpected circumstances.
Improves Accuracy – GPS technology can assist the driver in ensuring parcels are delivered to the correct addresses or stop. This assistance is especially helpful during night-time deliveries when house numbers may be difficult to see or in instances where house numbers are not distinct, or when driving in a new city.
Increases Customer Satisfaction – Ultimately, through route optimization and improved accuracy, everyone is better equipped to meet customer expectations, thus increasing customer satisfaction.
Real-Time Traffic Information – Traffic can disrupt the schedule for the driver; having a text message with traffic updates can improve performance on the way to do doing deliveries.
Useful Content and Interface – Another helpful feature is that smartphones (Apple iPhone/ios or android), as well as physical GPS devices, have a touchscreen display and software that allow for improved experience and capability. This feature is also called a dashboard. The advantage of the screen is that it provides monitoring more closer inclines, direction, mileage, height, landmarks, fuel data, and or another point of interest.
For more information:
What is Route Planning?
What is the best GPS tool for delivery drivers?
The question of best is always subjective. If you require many functions then, you’ll likely want to use a device with an increased feature set and cost/price range. If you have low requirements, then perhaps a smartphone app could be appropriate.
Is there a Special GPS for truck drivers?
Yes. These tools will include truck-specific pieces of information: rest stops, truck stops, weight limits, bridge heights, traffic reports, weather warnings, and more. Some devices will include other features like fuel costs and a fleet manager.
In conclusion, the question of the best GPS navigation system is situational. It depends on the needs and challenges that you specifically face. For instance, you may want to consider factors like traffic alerts, battery life, the type of navigation systems, and route planning options. The GPS navigator will have a variety of features like voice commands, traffic updates, and mapping functionality. We hope this article helps people spot the right solution for themselves, and that they can derive the benefits and capabilities they are seeking. If there’s anything we missed, please feel free to contact us and let us know! Until then, happy logistics and drives!