https://hdfleet.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/trucker-with-mask.jpgThe COVID-19 pandemic triggered worldwide social and economic disruption, with lockdowns, cancellations, and the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. The year 2020 will go down in the history books as one of the most challenging — and deadliest — time periods on record. As we bid good riddance to the year that took more than 3.2 million lives, it certainly seems clear we are living through a major turning point in history. The pandemic will likely leave behind permanent changes in just about every industry, including fleet management. Suddenly, running a “clean fleet” is about much more than emissions. But 2020 wasn’t all gloom. In fact, 2020 taught us a few valuable business lessons — like readiness, connectedness, and resiliency — and also revealed who could pivot the fastest to a digital first world. COVID-19, Fleet Management, and the Supply Chain The pandemic’s impact on the supply chain has reverberated across the transportation profession. Every aspect of the industry has been affected by the coronavirus in some way — from carriers and shippers to drivers and dispatchers. It has changed how we work and how we interact with one another. And it has changed what it means to stay healthy, safe, and productive. Getting information out to fleets became critical. Company apps facilitated the flow of information between drivers and managers, and also served important human resources functions specific to the virus. Frameworks were created to enable drivers to share if they or their family members got sick. The virus also accelerated the importance of in-cab technology like GPS dash cam tracking cameras. The devices took on even greater roles, helping to ensure drivers were engaged, aware, and alert, and also helping to route them away from virus hotspots. Business Agility and the Real Value of Technology COVID-19 has forever changed the future of fleet management strategies and it’s likely that the supply chain will feel repercussions for many years. More supply chain shifts are on the horizon, like escalating warehousing and transportation costs. The pandemic-fueled drive to eCommerce — which is more costly per pound, per mile — has uncovered the need for expanded fulfillment centers closer to customers. The ability of a fleet to quickly pivot amid the pandemic’s changing rules was largely dependent on the state of its technology and workers’ ease of using it. Companies using advanced solutions connected by wifi were well-positioned for changes that came on fast. The transportation landscape will see even more changes, like autonomous driving and electric-powered rigs. But it is the shift to eCommerce — thought to be permanent — that will end up being a major industry catalyst. Tracking technology helped fleet managers address everyday challenges as well as the obstacles unique to 2020. Location tech helped fleets build resilience, improve performance, and lower costs. By improving supply chains, changes can come about that will drive higher earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in the short-run as well as the long-term.