The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for freight transportation and logistics. Restrictions have significantly reduced economic activities, and the economic policy countermeasures have gone only so far. With no clear indication for when the pandemic will be over, freight companies have been implementing different strategies to address the crisis. However, not all companies have been equally affected. During the crisis, the demand for freight services has been volatile. At times, it’s plummeting. Other times, it’s spiking.

Here’s how freight companies are improving in 2022.

1. Robotics 

Since the popularity of e-commerce, getting goods to the customer’s doorsteps from warehouses and factories have become a massive responsibility for freight companies. Thus, many of them have turned to robotics. Thanks to robotics, production has become more innovative and faster. Implementing robotics in logistics and freight services has led to an increased uptime compared to manual labour while also improving productivity. 

Big companies like DHL have already deployed robots in their fulfilment centres and warehouses. Online trading has become even more popular during the pandemic, keeping freight volumes high. Digitisation in warehouses is the key to speeding up processes. However, having smooth and intelligent systems are also required to guarantee a robust and efficient supply chain. Thus, utilising warehouse robots is a must. They help make things easier for staff when picking and fulfilling customer orders.

By assigning some warehouse tasks to robots, freight companies can function more efficiently since humans will have more free time to perform more essential duties. Furthermore, assigning menial tasks to robots can help improve human safety. Studies also show that leveraging robotics in freight and logistics could cut around 70% of labour costs and help businesses function both day and night with minimal expenses.

2. Health and Safety 

Freight companies must ensure the storage and delivery of goods on time. Their operations involve not only haulage and distribution but also warehousing. Unfortunately, the hazardous nature of their operations means that they have high accident rates, mainly because of the weight and size of the loads involved and the equipment and vehicles needed to transport them. 

Every year, there’s usually an accident involving transport services, with some of them resulting in fatal consequences. So many people get knocked down, ran over, or crushed against vehicles, such as trailers and plants. There are also incidences where people fell from cars while getting on or off and loading or unloading stuff. Thus, one way in which some freight companies are improving is by implementing more health and safety awareness training on manual handling, working from heights, and being more aware of slips and trips. 

Freight companies should consider whether there’s an easier and safer way of performing specific tasks. The risk assessment should consider all workplace transport activities, including loading and unloading. Moreover, the vehicles and the people moving around the workplace must be carefully inspected. There should be proper markings on traffic and pedestrian movements. The drivers should also be involved as they are usually the most vulnerable. 

3. Recruitment 

Working in the freight industry is what many people enjoy and benefit from. But it’s not easy to look and select the most suitable candidates. Some roles will require organisation skills, while others need negotiation skills. Meanwhile, some positions require constant communication with clients and shippers, while others require spending most of their time working alone. Aside from the recruitment aspect, you also need to think of payroll and benefits. Because of this, many freight companies are now choosing to recruit their own internal payroll and HR departments.

Aside from having a team dedicated to selecting and hiring the right people, having an internal HR department can help cultivate the company values and culture and improve employee engagement through face-to-face conversations. Since the HR team will know your employees personally, the staff will more likely feel comfortable working and will not hesitate to bring up any issues against the company. The HR team can also help address and resolve any conflict between employees and the company, which boosts employee morale and satisfaction.

An internal HR team can also help nurture company culture by hosting open discussions and engaging events according to the staff’s personal needs and interests. Another advantage of having an internal HR is gaining insight and maintaining control over internal practices. If you have an internal HR team, you can keep your intellectual property and organisational practices internal. This helps to secure confidential company information, monitor the productivity of your employees, control the organisation, and minimise unethical practices within the organisation.

4. What More Can Improve 

While many things have improved, there is still plenty of work to be done, especially in terms of safety in freight companies. Injury statistics have highlighted a long-term descending trend in both non-fatal and fatal injuries across all sectors, although the statistics have been broadly flat in recent years. An average of 26 fatalities have been recorded across all industries in the last five years, mainly being hit by moving vehicles. While these are not warehouse-related, this remains a cause for concern for freight companies.

Companies must develop better leading indicators since they are far more effective at addressing risks in the workplace. Risk assessment, compliance, and better communication are still the most effective solutions to safety in freight industries.

Although more and more companies rely on robots to improve the supply chain, they still need to make several improvements. Companies should ensure that warehouses are highly automated and consider using small mobile robots armed with grabbers when fetching items before delivering them to human pickers to be packed before sending them out for delivery. Companies should also consider computer simulations of warehouses before deciding to build them and demonstrate how robots can move across the grid. The simulation can help make predictions on the movement of robots and collect real-time data on errors. In the future, augmented reality will continue to transform how warehouses work. They must do testing before integrating robots into freight operations. That way, these robots can safely collaborate with humans and improve optimisation.