In the struggle for truck driver retention, fleet managers are adopting mobile devices for applications beyond electronic logging and productivity tools. Increasingly, they play a role as a perk for drivers to stay better connected during downtime.

Drivers are comfortable using smartphones and tablets for communicating with family and friends, personal banking, games, entertainment and many other daily uses. They’re accustomed to using touch screens with minimal typing, and they expect to be able to access the same level of technology in the cab.

Increasingly, fleets have deployed mobile devices to meet the electronic logging mandate, but there’s also significant potential to use these same devices to improve the driver experience on the road and during breaks.

With new ruggedized tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active2, concerns about durability have also been addressed. Devices may encounter hard drops, bumps, spills, extreme temperatures and wet weather when they’re taken out of the cab. With rugged devices, this can be done without worries about an incident impacting fleet operations.

Improve Driver Retention

Mobile devices reduce administrative headaches and help drivers to be more productive, which alone can lead to higher job satisfaction. Drivers have enthusiastically adopted tracking orders, capturing signatures, reconciling returns and performing other tasks on mobile devices rather than maintaining paper manifests. The Galaxy Tab Active2 makes this even easier with its S Pen, which allows drivers to use their devices even while wearing gloves.

Mobile devices can also help increase loaded turns through better communication with dispatchers and customers. They reduce the amount of time spent filing and managing paperwork — all while increasing recordkeeping accuracy — since tasks can be completed from one central device. Additionally, truck drivers can use mobile devices during their rest time to stay in touch with their families or pass the time with entertainment apps.

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Nationwide, only about 17 percent of drivers are 35 or younger, so adding mobile devices to the cab could help attract a new population to the industry.

“Younger drivers want to be able to use their mobile device to access the information and data that they need to be armed with as they go about their day; they don’t expect to read information off of and maintain a paper manifest,” Pol Sweeney, chief of technology for Airclic, told Fleet Owner. “That’s why the ‘consumerization of technology’ is catching up with trucking.”

Mobile technology allows drivers to feel more connected to their managers and customers. Millennials, who will be a larger part of the driver base in the coming years, value mentoring and coaching as well as a work-life balance, and they seek technology that enables self-management and personal productivity. Drivers also enjoy feeling less isolated on the road with devices to connect directly with family and friends.

Protecting Company Data

Even if a fleet doesn’t offer mobile devices, drivers are most likely using their own phones or tablets to perform tasks every day, as well as emailing dispatchers, calling customers and checking navigation on the same device. That means BYOD is already part of many fleet operations, even if it’s not an official corporate policy.

IT security staff may shudder at the thought of hundreds of mobile devices with corporate network access being used in truck stops and on the highway. Samsung Galaxy tablets help alleviate this concern for IT because they are all built with the Samsung Knox security platform.

The Knox platform creates a secure environment protected against attacks. In addition to security measures anchored in the hardware, Samsung offers containerization solutions to separate, isolate, encrypt and protect data. Distinct corporate and personal environments ensure company data and personal data are kept completely separate — the company can only access and manage the work container, whereas the driver can access both and can also manage their personal data.

Knox protection is fully integrated into the latest Samsung mobile devices from the chip up, giving IT administrators even greater peace of mind that the device will be protected. For smaller fleets that need easy device management, Knox Manage uses a cloud-based platform for simple, low-cost device management. For enterprise-level security, Knox Workspace protects business applications and data within an encrypted secure container, while also working seamlessly with leading mobile management solutions. Knox Workspace supports enterprise virtual private networks (VPNs) to offer employees a secure path to the corporate environment from their personal or corporate-owned devices. For personal use, drivers may be responsible for locating Wi-Fi access on the road. Knox can keep corporate data safe even if the network is not fully secure.

In the case of a lost or stolen device, business-critical information can be wiped, while leaving personal data intact. If a driver leaves the company, apps and data can be removed, and login information can be disabled remotely to stop unauthorized access.

Giving truck drivers access to the latest mobile technology represents an investment in their productivity and job satisfaction. Making sure the device is rugged enough to handle the tough circumstances of being on the road is also a good investment — and in the long run, less costly than frequently replacing damaged devices that can’t handle intense vibration, high temperatures, drops or other environmental factors. Finally, by addressing drivers’ concerns around isolation and communication, companies can improve driver retention and recruitment to enhance their culture and competitiveness.

Discover more technology advancements in the transportation field that are set to dramatically impact this rapidly changing industry.

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Gary Wollenhaupt

Gary Wollenhaupt is a veteran of the transportation and logistics industry, with carrier-side experience in intermodal, rail and inland and ocean shipping verticals, managing corporate marketing and public policy initiatives. He's also worked as a reporter for a daily newspaper and in corporate and agency public relations. Follow Gary on Twitter: @gary_writes

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