Tailor-made training is helping freight exchange platform members to deliver greater efficiencies

As our cities grow, collaborative freight exchange platforms, where operators use real-time virtual fleets to consolidate loads and reduce empty miles, will play an even greater role in the future in helping operators to strive for the most efficient total fleet management solution.

In doing so, they would do well to take on board the observations of the late Adam Smith an 18th century economist. Smith, a Scotsman, who died in 1790, never would have seen a car, let alone experienced collaborative logistics in action in the shape of a freight exchange platform. However, his assertion that gains in productivity are as much to do with human capital as they are equipment continues to resonate today.

Take the Transport Exchange Group for example. Created by Lyall Cresswell over 17 years ago to reduce dead mileage for same day couriers, the organisation, which boasts 4500 members and a global virtual fleet numbering more than 40,000 vehicles, has created a collaborative logistics model with training at its heart.

Chad Hazelwood, Head of the Transport Exchange Group’s Training division, is responsible for navigating new members through the system. With the Transport Exchange Group’s two most popular platforms – Courier Exchange and Haulage Exchange – supporting 10 new members every day, Hazelwood and his team evaluate the training needs of each member and produce a bespoke education programme to enable them to use the platforms effectively.

And there is very little that Hazelwood doesn’t know about the technology that powers the platforms. He divides his time between the training arm of the business and the product development team, which allows him, not only to react to and solve customer’s issues quickly, but also to help them tailor, streamline and add new features to the existing technology, so that they can run their fleet management service in the most cost-effective way possible.

Hazelwood said: “With several thousand members belonging to our exchanges, we recognise that the members’ level of knowledge and understanding of our systems differ greatly. On one end of the scale, we have the fledgling one-man courier services who we not only train to use our ‘trade only’ platforms, but also equip them with the know-how needed to flourish in the same-day courier and express freight business. On the other, we have vastly experienced hauliers. In their case, there is very little we can teach them about the freight business. Instead our training model is focused on ensuring that they have an in-depth understanding of the feel and functionality of our systems and how their fleet management service can draw the most benefit from the technology, which is strongly geared towards collaboration and interoperability.”

Hazelwood has also helped to develop two interactive training streams. The Academy programme, a 12-week course, is mainly for novice operators. Experienced logisticians, while they are typically monitored for three months, are inducted more quickly.

Hazelwood explained: “From a compliance perspective, once we are satisfied that new joiners have met the required standards and have accepted the terms of membership, we begin the education process, which is optional, by initially spending an hour in a screen sharing session guiding them through the system. We then supplement members’ knowledge with a 57-page user guide.

“While the system is not difficult to use, we recognise that members have varying levels of IT literacy, and so for the first three-months of their journey, we are on hand to take questions and to solve any technical glitches that they may encounter.

Hazelwood says that while the larger multi-modal logistics businesses and mid-sized operators “usually only require a demonstration of the interface, knowledge of how to obtain work, how to manage payments, use the online feedback system, and most importantly, effectively harness a freight exchange platform,” those taking their first steps in the world of freight “need a comprehensive level of training to truly prosper.”

Hazelwood explained: “Navigating young businesses through training is a challenging but rewarding process for my team. We work hard to introduce them to this democratised marketplace. This entails, not just demonstrating the power of the directory, the real-time live-availability mapping system and how to take advantage of real-time alerts, but our training covers real-world freight business basics too, such as maintaining regular contact with the customer, which for new inexperienced couriers can be a common red-flag on the online customer feedback system.”

Transport Exchange
Chad Hazelwood, Head of the Transport Exchange Group’s Training division.

But how does the academy training programme aid those operators who are already well established in freight logistics circles?

Hazelwood said: “When we train more established operators, after showcasing the technology, the coaching cycle is much less prescriptive and non-binary. It is highly nuanced and is centred around tutoring hauliers to use collaborative networks to squeeze out that extra few per cent of productivity and efficiency that can make a huge difference to their operations. Therefore, we focus more on their specialist skills and experience and demonstrate how they can quickly identify, grow and tailor a local network of like-minded and compliant hauliers that they can do business with.

“The academy is just the beginning. We expect our members to continuously improve and adhere to the strict rules and regulations that we have put in place. Real-time online feedback forums monitor personal development.”

Just how effective is this custom-made training programme that Hazelwood has developed, and can it be proven that there is positive correlation between academy schooling and members contributing towards more efficient logistics operations?

Hazelwood said: “We recently compared a series of statistics – the first batch was taken in the period between April 2015 and April 2016 before the academy was established – and the second set of figures we extracted from the system between April 2016 and January 2017.

“If we analyse and contrast those two periods, while other factors such as increased membership have to be taken into account, the statistics reveal that the amount of loads posted increased by 32%, the number received rose by 28%, and the direct bookings between members expanded by 35%. And considering we devote a large amount of training to teaching members how to go about producing professional paperwork and paperless proof of delivery records, the academy found it particularly gratifying that the PoD’s posted on our site have increased by 56%.

Perhaps this proves that hundreds of years later Adam Smith’s assertion still rings true. Physical tools and technology are vitally important to development, but it is people’s ability to grasp how to get the best out of them that brings about profound change.

For more information: https://transportexchangegroup.com/

This article originally appeared in FACTS issue 130, as below. To read the magazine in full: