There was time when the only thing haulage companies needed, apart from a few vehicles and a palette truck or two, were a couple of telephones and a few basic desks and chairs. If you were really technologically advanced, you may also have had a photocopier, a telecopier (the original name for a fax) and maybe a telex machine. That, of course, has all changed and haulage companies have been as much affected by the technological revolution as everyone else.
Yet perhaps not all of these changes have been entirely desirable. Take the old shipping clerk for example. There was a time when you could telephone haulage companies for a quotation, read out over the telephone the details of about 10 different consignments with their weights and dimensions, and expect an almost instant response – as the calculations and costs had been worked out mentally as you spoke. Today though, we are all rather more reliant on computer systems and this may have blunted some of our mental capabilities. It may also have reduced our capacity to spot things that simply cannot be right as we automatically assume that if “the computer says yes” – then it must be so.
In truth, we may all have been guilty of it at one time or another. If you have ever sat and looked at a shipping note and failed to spot that the collection and delivery addresses were identical, then you are probably a victim of this syndrome! Other real-life examples include:
• a delivery address showing as “Berlin – France”;
• an air freight consignment being beautifully addressed to a final destination in ‘Australier’;
• a vehicle allocation sheet showing that a 7 tonne vehicle had been dispatched to collect an 18 tonne load;
• a schedule showing collection in Glasgow at nine am and an estimated delivery time in Norwich of midday (yes, the same day);
• a single driver being allocated to collect three different trailers from separate locations all at the same time;
• a vehicle being sent to do two European deliveries that were listed as ‘close to each other’ with one being in Salzburg and the other in Naples;
• the same vehicle being booked on to separate ferries on the same day, one leaving from Dover and the other from Portsmouth.
Many haulage companies will admit to having had similar automation issues so we will almost all probably say that they were spotted in advance and rectified before humiliation arose (?)
However, it is doubtful if in the old days of the much-feared shipping or dispatch managers, such things would have been allowed to happen to begin with.
Of course, haulage companies have had to embrace the new technology and overall, it has been a major benefit. We just perhaps need to keep our wits about us when using it!