Paperless is Possible: Why the Transport Industry Must Go Digital

The job of a commercial truck driver entails long hours on the road, tight schedules and being responsible for valuable cargo, but a key aspect of a driver’s role doesn’t always come to mind: paperwork.

On any given route, a driver working for a transport company will handle an untold number of papers, from bills of lading to customs documents. The complex paper trail in the transport sector is often forgotten in discussions about streamlining and modernizing the industry. While tracking and other operations are now firmly rooted in advanced tech, some aspects of trucking are still as antiquated as ever. 

Contactless payment options and other machine interfaces have long been touted as progressive, but in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, these solutions are invaluable. According to truck driver, Ken Azarkiewicz, exchanging paper is currently one of the riskiest parts of being a driver during a pandemic.

“I’m reluctant to share pens with people. I have a system of sanitizing my hands after handing over the papers to be signed. I always take a photo of the document too, and keep them in a number of folders,” explains Azarkiewicz.

Not only does the act of handing paper back and forth heighten chances of spreading a virus, but it increases the chance of human error and even disputes. The simple fact that drivers are taking photos of signed bill of lading copies points to a critical need for e-signature solutions as an industry standard.

“We’ve updated and automated so many of our processes over the years, but we still need to eliminate much of the paper from the equation,” says Oren Gabbay, Vice President of Argus Transport. “We need the ability to track down incomplete documents, and house all of these bills of lading in a robust software.”

Digital solutions (that handle an untold number of tasks) are implemented by countless different companies for many of the same reasons. They mitigate the risk of human error, lost papers, or even fraudulent claims, they provide a company with valuable data from which insights can be gleaned, they promote digital collaboration among teams, and they often provide a more seamless experience to transactions. Such technologies can include e-signatures for proof of delivery, web-based contracting, and more.

Automated routing and scheduling tools, digital driver logs, and GPS tech have been helping fleets to thrive for years, and yet many trucking companies have yet to shift away from paper. Total automation hasn’t happened for the transport industry. The change will require cooperation from both the trucking companies and their customers.

According to Gabbay, “the transport sector is rather traditional – shipping goods from one location to another – but that doesn’t mean we have to be low-tech. Until many of these digital technologies are universally adopted, companies will keep having to deal with the inefficiencies of paper. It quite literally bogs down the system, and not to mention, isn’t the most environmentally-friendly practice.”