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Hello everyone. And welcome to the final episode of season one of talking trucking tech. I'm Steele Roddick and I've been your host each week as guests and I have talked about how technology is transforming the transportation and logistics industry, the global talking trucking tech or TTT. It's helped carriers and brokers successfully manage the rapidly changing landscape of freight technology, including trends, platforms, best practices, and business results to close the year. We thought it would make sense to look back at the year that was and to look ahead at what we might expect to see in 2021. To do just that we've brought in JS Bouchard, the vice president of sales at Isaac instruments. He's been at Isaac for almost 20 years now, and I'm really excited to get his perspective on how 2020 will be remembered to have 2021. Welcome JS.
Thank you very much for hosting with me. So it's pretty hard to talk about 2020. It was talking about the pandemic, of course. So I thought we'd start there. Um, what are some of the biggest impacts that COVID-19, uh, has had on the trucking industry, especially from a technology perspective? Yeah, I mean, COVID, uh, you know, is, uh, is of course a virus we used to be concerned about computer viruses and now all of a sudden we became concerned then, uh, worry about human transmitted viruses as well in transportation doing pick ups, deliveries, need drivers [inaudible] and whatnot. So it brought to light the importance of, uh, the piece of papers that were handling and ending from one person to a matter of depends. We could be holding, uh, so all to minimize all those human contact, uh, you know, and, and make sure that we can, that we can minimize them and make those process he's electronic or contact for if possible.
That's one of the big things that, that was really like put to light with, uh, the recent COVID-19 and it's really something that's changed. And that's, that's brought tracking think about learning process he's and, you know, when you think about in transportation, moving away from, uh, a printed bill of lading and, and a signature on the bill of lading to catch a proof of delivery, it's always been very difficult and very complicated for carriers to change those processes. What kind of signings and shippers. But now it seems that those can studies and shippers to themselves protect their, their only employees they're looking for methods and wages for this to happen. So it's really, I think an opportunity here for the, for the current market altogether to a change into that direction, I changed that that was required and necessary, which is now hopefully happening because of this situation.
Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. Definitely. Definitely the trend we've seen here too. And yeah, it did also highlight that you do need some collaboration from, from your shippers or constant use it. Like it can't just be a driven by the planetary, or you need some, some collaboration to really get a fully contactless process going there,
Right. As a carrier, you'll want your transportation fees to be paid. And if the person paying is asking you for such a piece of paper, with a signature on it to keep, to pay you well, you're going to bring back that piece of paper. So that process needs to change and be accepted by the person paying. So that's where the really the big struggle is, right? So that's, that's where, and that's where we've seen a lot of openings on a lot of things. People are ready for things to change, to minimize those contacts and, and make it like up for everyone to just turn it over with their trans situation.
Yeah, yeah, no, for sure. That makes a lot of sense. So I know a lot of love, there's some speculation. What do you think, um, some of the lasting effects of kind of this whole experience will be, do you think, like some of the shifts, uh, or changes that of the Navy will be permanent, or you saying time is, you know, if any luck as I've seen kind of roll out, the things will gradually go kind of back to business as usual. Uh,
I mean, although that paperless world, that we've been dreaming about, the terriers I've been dreaming about, then that we're seeing a trend to change. I think that's going to remain because, uh, this is really something that scent for the long run and that that transition has began and it's really moving along. So, uh, I don't think any vaccine is going to bring us back to something less productive that's MPN. We still have to increase productivity and efficiency, making things move virtually with electronic signatures and stuff like this. Uh, so the paper last thing is definitely gonna stay. Uh, it it's forced the carriers also to make and remain more engaged with their drivers. Uh, you know, with all like go back into March and April, where a lot of things were changing day to day, a lot of rumors about what you could to not do.
Like everything was really changing every hour, a week. Things were, were changing. Carriers needed to really engage with their drivers, to keep them up to date, keep them confident in the current situation, what they were doing is okay and keep doing it. And that's changed the way carriers are communicating with our drivers. And I think that's going to remain, that's going to remain for the longer run as well. It's changed all we engage in out. We, we, we get, uh, we frequently communicate with the drivers. We say you changed our, we found a lot of on the Isaac site, a lot of feature requests from clients to be able to engage with the, with our drivers more frequently so that we could support them. And so not the drivers felt support, support it through, through the, through the process.
Interesting. Yeah. So the ability to like push out either other messages or, you know, yeah. Just, or, or even videos, or just any general, a lot more, uh, communication or engagement with the driver.
Yeah. Again, an example of that is, you know, um, and that date on the current situation from the president of the ceremony or someone high in their hierarchy, short video explaining what the status is, what things are what's going to change this week, what we're doing to improve things that the, the drivers can, can watch and see and listen to, to feel reassured that their company is on top of everything and things are moving forward, right? Those kinds of things they're going to remain. Like what we see this as that kind of engagement is, is something that, you know, we have drivers are remote workers that can feel isolated quite easily when something, something like this happens. And you want to, you want that to feel part of the group as much as possible. So all of you maintain this. I mean, with the proper tools in place today, people aren't going to continue to use this brochure and that's going to increase your engagement and probably resolve some of the other challenges in distress.
Interesting. Yeah. No, that makes a lot of sense maybe. Yeah. Beyond the pandemic, what are some other notable shifts or maybe stories that you saw play out in 2020 that, you know, might've gone overlooked because of, you know, yeah.
I still am not sure he went overlook, but there's definitely like the Canadian ELD that takes a lot of air time. Uh, and, and of course it was, it was impacted probably by COVID and, uh, some people had to shift their priorities over to 200 things, but I mean, this is still a big topic here for TA carriers. Uh, the June timeline is, is coming, and this is something that's on, on top of everyone's money. And you know, of course when King, March and April, everyone was a little bit uncertain about what do you kind of need? The economy's gonna react to the COVID, uh, to the virus and whatnot, but we've seen, you kinda need to pick up quite a bit then, and now only meant for drivers as rise to a level where we're seeing the driver shortage of, you know, 2016, 2017, 2018. So the drivers shortage as came back to the top of the list, uh, really up there. So, I mean, there's this something that's going to remain as well. We know, we know the drivers shortage was quite a challenge a couple years back and, and we see this becoming a top concern for all the fleets at the moment.
Yeah. That's, that's really interesting. I know when the, when the us ELD mandate rolled out, it, it didn't really contribute to the kind of capacity crunch, especially those like four to 600 mile, like ones where you maybe turtles kind of start to zero hours of service in the past to make it work. Now, all of a sudden you couldn't listen to it with the mandate. And I know it took some capacity out of the market. Do you see, as the like, ELD mandate rolls out in Canada, do you think it will, we'll take out a little bit of, uh, the capacity in the, in the market, or do you think the exact won't be, you know, you know, as a large, well, I think there's,
There's for sure going to be an adaptation of the market, uh, people will need to adapt to the new regulation and that should have an impact on the overall capacity. Uh, is that for the longer term, only time will tell us it's hard to know today, all much each terrorist operation and at that to really follow regulations. And I acknowledge people are really following regulations today. Anyway, that's great. Uh, you know, can we, can we really, um, can we really think that that there's that much cheating? Uh, maybe there is, but it started, it started to measure today and it's hard to know, uh, all much that's going to impact capacity, but for sure, like the transition period will impact capacity just because everyone's trying to make things work today and everybody tries to adapt to the new regulation. Yeah,
Yeah, no, that makes sense. Maybe looking ahead to 2021, what other trends do you think carriers should be paying attention to?
Well, you know, because our drivers shortage is, is clearly back. Uh, what do you do to keep your drivers Zack? Uh, this is something, something quite important. What don't you put in place to make a difference with them? Uh, it's not just about like, of course it's it's of course, about attracting new drivers. What do you do to differentiate yourself so that new drivers come and drive the trucks that you have part against the, uh, against the gate. But second of all, all the keep and maintain happy, those that are, that are there working for you today and giving you the service that, that you need to deliver to your clients every day. Uh, what do you deal with, with these guys? And, you know, are carriers traveling across Canada ready for an, a ELB? Uh, they need to pay attention to this because 20, 21 tune that's coming in quite fast.
So when you think about it, uh, if you need to change solution, if you need to change system, if you need to implement a new system that takes time, it takes time to select that vendor. It takes time to, uh, to deploy, train your people and then get used to it so that your capacity is not your capacity is not too much impacted by the change, uh, in, in your operations or the way you're operating or the way you're, uh, offering the service, given those new, uh, those new tools that, you know, need to use. Yeah. Interesting
On the, I guess, on differentiating yourself or, you know, attracting, attracting new drivers. I know, I know having up-to-date equipment has long been like having newer trucks is always, always appealing. Do, do you feel like technology playing? I know, I feel like for awhile to the mentality was maybe lack of technology or made sure not to overwhelm drivers, but maybe there's assessment or making sure that you have like the easiest to use technology or you're really using it to make, you know, the driver's life easier. Where do you see technology playing a role in optimizing the driver experience? I guess,
Well, the driver took that position because he liked to drive a truck. You didn't like to, you know, punch buttons on a, on a keyboard or a touch screen. And, and his, his train job is not documenting things. His train job is really making sure that they're willing to truck and driving around sometimes for longer distances. That's what, that's a job that guy signed up now today. There's a lot of, you know, our businesses, all the industries really rely on just-in-time. Uh, they were like, we need a lot of information to go on, uh, to know, like the frayed flat, um, the shipper freight's arrived consignee or where the freights and transition and whatever, and it made the company's foot a lot of, you know, do you have a lot of responsibilities to the driver to provide some updates and some information on freight status and everything, our job as telematics and as fleet management solution is really to make sure that we can automate that process as much as possible.
And when you look at the bigger picture, going back to the drivers, when the driver really wants to do, he wants to drive, well, we need all that automation to go on without impacting the driver too much. So, you know, you need to think of it. Technology gives you a driver as to Omni screen types, will my driver need to be able to get the job done? Uh, you know, we need to minimize that. We need to make sure that this comes to a minimum so that the driver doesn't spend time with the device in a sense, but with the steering wheel, driving the tractor around and going back, and that's for that's for the driver happiness, but that also helps the fleet profitability, because when you think about it, it's going to make the truck wheels turning, and you want the wheels turning because when the wheels are attorney, it's a profit making it's it's revenues that are coming back into your, uh, for your organization. So this is what we're looking for. We're looking for having the wheels turning, and that driver would a smile because you can drive the truck. Right. So that's a spinning wheel.
Yeah, yeah. Increasing, yeah. Everyone wants the wheels turning. Um, that makes a lot of sense. You got it. Do you think, yeah. Do you think trucking companies will be giving, you know, even more thought to their digital and kind of data strategies, um, as, as we move into the, the new year and, you know, it's just, I feel like this year's really emphasized the importance of just how digital the world has gotten. Do you think, you know, trucking companies will become even more, maybe strategic minded in terms of how they're going about competing in a more digital world?
Well, they will ask too. I mean, today, I think as we mentioned earlier, there's an opportunity that that happened where something happened where the shippers and consignee, these are ready to change, they're ready to change. We need to make sure that we get them the opportunities to be able to change. And the move to digitization has always been restrained by, uh, by the clients that the carriers are trying to serve. So I need that opportunity. The door is now open. I think it's pointed people to step in it and really make sure that they make those things happen for the, for good, you know, that we get all those processes as electronic as possible. And, you know, you have tools like, you know, micro D a and Z, that can help you accomplish this. There are tools out there that are ready, cook, built to do this. All you need to do is take the time gentle manner and the opportunity is there now more than ever to move to that area.
Yeah, yeah, no, I fully agree. Um, maybe I, I wonder, are there any trends in safety technology that you're excited about or think will be more of a focus in 2021? Wow.
Yes. I think we see there's a lot of evolution with all of the videos and the cameras and the image analysis that we're able to do, uh, that provides a lot of, first of all, information about what happened while the truck was driven out there. Uh, it brings a lot of information so that we can proactively coach drivers, uh, show them situations where we want them to react in some way or another, uh, explain what I've been when it crashed shot up in or where an incident happened. There's a lot that we can do with, with the safety today. And that just keeps improving. It seems every month, there's a new features. There's a new thing we can do with the videos and think about all the drivers distances that we're able to put on the trucks today. Uh, you know, it's becoming, it's becoming a standard to have those driver assistances.
Uh, so, and all those information, they come from the radar, but they also come from the images, uh, the video images that are captured in front of the truck. So to help the driver make sure he's not going to do rain departures that are unsafe or help and assist the driver in breaking in case he was, uh, he was distracted. Uh, so he doesn't hit whatever is in front of him. And when you look at all the nuclear verdicts that I've been in the industry, uh, I think I personally think in it, the trucking industry is a safe industry already. I mean, it's, it's a question of demonstrating and showing that we're safe and more importantly, showing that we're in control of what's going on. And that's really where videos are helping today, make sure that we can prove that to the public and to everybody, right. Make sure that we can show that we're in control of what's going on and what we're doing is safe. That's really what were the differences I think today, and it's great. And it makes me super excited to see these trends and see this evolving so rapidly today.
Yeah, yeah. No, for sure. I know. Yeah. I know it's helpful both from actually yeah. Coach coaching, proactively coaching drivers and making sure they're even safer, but I know, yeah, just capturing the information often, the driver was not at fault, but there's no real way of proving that. And now having that evidence has been tremendously helpful
And it's getting quite well accepted by drivers as well because, uh, drivers know that it will protect them more than it will penalize them. Uh, drivers are aware of the nuclear verdicts that have been in the us. Uh, they don't want to get caught and the nuclear Verde and drivers are safe and do, do a good job, uh, 99% of the time. So, I mean, that's when the camera's gonna show drivers that are not supplied with a camera in their truck today, a lot of them will go to their favorite electronic store and just put in a dashboard or their truck to catch a, whatever happens in front of them to be able to demonstrate it was not their fault. So I mean, the fact that that technology becomes so accessible is, is just great and it just keeps improving. So that's a pizza.
Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. Um, Navy paintings, finally, I know no discussion of, uh, trends is complete without mentioning machine learning or artificial intelligence, maybe. What are you saying? Um, in terms of seeing more advances in ML or AI applications and especially you have real life applications of these technologies.
Yeah. I always careful in the way I use machine learning and AI, I think they're they're words that are, over-utilized a little bit, AI means a program we'll read them or learn from past experience. It's not just, I get in your spot, Gore them written by all your top for grammar, which sometimes, and very often people will leverage that term NDI to make a big buzz around, around a feature. So I'm careful with my usage of this word, but I see a lot of potential advancement in the future for solving very important problems that could eventually be solved by AI. But I think that they're still solved by very great algorithms, but I need, we spoke about camera technologies. Do they reading speed signs and road signs and reading lanes and objects that are moving around this, this like, I mean, this is the trend I, we spoke about it already, but this is the trend of the future for sure.
And that just keeps improving. And that, that is what will bring us one day. I, I assume one day we still don't know yet, but to more autonomous driving, uh, I think there's still a lot to be done before that actually happens. But I mean, this is for surely in a very, in a future that will happen, uh, predictive maintenance, well understand the patterns that lead to breakdowns, right? All the breakdowns that we have last year that we could have saved because we could have known about it, then that break down, coming back to the, keep the wheels turning well, the wheels weren't an attorney because that truck was parked. We need to call it, we needed to call the towing, send another tractor to pick up that trailer. So, I mean, there's a lot of delays created by something like this. So, and today, I mean, we have so much data from those trucks and so much, so many trends that we can and patterns that we can detect anomalies to tell us that this is about to break and we should do something about it right now.
Uh, we spoke about the nuclear verdicts and the fact that that fleets want to be safe and neat to be safe, even though most and, and tracking, as I said earlier, I, I really believe that tracking is a safe industry and very safe, um, being very focused on safety. There's still risky drivers out there and using all that data that we have to identify those risky drivers, uh, and understand the behavioral patterns that lead to a claim and made sure that you understand what's your clean dollar for miles driven for a driver, try to reduce that and predict what that's going to be in some behaviors that guided even before you had an actual claim and finally button out the last, you know, all the improvements that we see around around, uh, uh, optical character recognition, OCR, uh, making sure that we can read those bill of ladings and those documents that we're, that we're getting at, we're scanning all. Can we, like in the ideal world driving doesn't touch anything. The bill is just read it, the mountain CLI, and that said it's processed and nobody the driver or anyone in the back office is not even touching anything. I mean, these are things that we, again, we're just seeing a tipping point of those technologies today, and these are things that are continuously improving and want to see them improving so that it makes us more efficient and not just copying things or texts that was already copied or type thing somebody else.
So I'll I'll, can we reuse all of that? I mean, that's really, I think what, what we're looking at, uh, for the future. Yeah, no, that's a really good, yeah, that's a really good recap. It is really exciting as, as everything becomes more digital and then all of a sudden you're getting all this data. I know we're still just kind of in the early innings of figuring out exactly how, how to, how to structure it and then have a learn from it and be more proactive on all those different things, but, um, definitely an exciting time. And there's definitely a great deal of opportunity as things become more digital. For sure.
Absolutely. Um, did you have any other closing thoughts or, um, yeah, well, hopefully 2021 is going to be, uh, a year without viruses or with fewer viruses and, uh, and that we can keep going and really, uh, can you, like, I want us to be, uh, to be excited with technology again and just use that technology to make transportation greater. I mean, that's, that's really what we want to do here. And, uh, and it's, it's fun. It's fun to wake up every morning and think about this and it makes sure it happens. Yeah, no, thanks. Yeah. Thanks a lot for, uh, for joining us today, JS, this has been, that's been great. Um, and thank you to everyone else out there for tuning in to the final episode of TTT, be sure to click, subscribe, to hear about future seasons. And as you'd like to learn more about Isaac instruments, you can check them out at Isaac.ca if you'd like to learn about Microdea, you can always check us firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1995 and headquartered in Markham, Ontario, Microdea is a fast growing document management and automation software company serving hundreds of customers in the transportation and logistics industry, including truckload and LTL carriers, private fleets, brokers and 3PLs.