Why The Truck & Fleet Industry Should Move Up A Gear In Terms Of Technology Adoption

24th August 2023

A Discussion with Steve Sargeant, Depot Manager, Intercounty Boston Truck & Van
by Ellie Jarrett, Marketing Manager, Dakota Integrated Solutions

As an industry, truck and fleet is painfully slow in terms of technology adoption.”  That’s the message I received very loudly and very clearly from a recent discussion with Steve Sargeant, Depot Manager at Intercounty Boston Truck & Van.

Eager to explore this topic and his opinion further, I was interested in arranging an interview with Steve to find out more about why he felt so strongly about the industry’s apparent ‘snail’s pace’ approach to embracing new and emerging technologies such as voice, despite proven success in alternative sectors such as manufacturing and warehousing.

I hadn’t known Steve for long, but as the main protagonist in one of our recently filmed case study videos, created in collaboration with our partners Truckfile who has maintained a strong supplier relationship with Intercountry Truck & Van since 2006, there was plenty of time to chat between takes, so I felt confident that he would agree to speak with me to elaborate on his statement.

Keen to establish himself as a spokesperson in support of voice-directed technology within the industry in an attempt to drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st century, the discussion was as enlightening and interesting as it was informative.

There’s no doubt whatsoever that the truck and fleet industry is bursting at the seams with intelligent, knowledgeable and technically minded human resource, however the desire to look to the future in terms of embracing new and emerging technology in order to make everyday tasks infinitely easier leaves, well, a lot to be desired.

According to Steve, it’s a dinosaur of an industry; an industry which he would love to be less prehistoric in its approach. In other words, more forward-thinking, innovative, fast-paced and future-proof.

A firm advocate of technology, having recently been instrumental in the Boston Depot’s recent voice-enablement of its Truckfile Workshop Management System, the benefits of ‘moving with the times’ are abundantly clear for Steve.

“Vehicle inspections are now taking ninety minutes instead of two hours, so our productivity and efficiency has gone through the roof. We had initially hoped for a ten percent increase in productivity, but the reality of the solution has far exceeded our expectations. The system has basically paid for itself in under two months. All of our inspection data is now instantly uploaded and available on our Truckfile Workshop System for our customers to see, meaning that every vehicle leaving our depot is equipped with a fully compliant inspection sheet. Our technicians love the new voice solution and would never go back to how we were working previously. The depot is now functioning much more smoothly, safely and efficiently than ever before. Voice has completely revolutionised our business, so I would encourage anyone working in the maintenance and inspection space to seriously consider implementing a voice-directed solution.”

So there’s no doubt that Steve believes that his insistence, motivation and in some ways courage to basically leap into what many perceive to be the unknown and ‘take the plunge’ in terms of investigating and ultimately purchasing a relatively non-traditional technology has undoubtedly paid off. His desire for other companies to do the same and to follow his lead is keen to say the least.

Under his leadership, the depot adopted the voice solution for its maintenance and inspection processes, and has subsequently not only reaped the benefits but substantially proved them too, whilst at the same time mitigating the risk of human error and making everyone’s lives easier along the way. It seems impossible then to imagine why others aren’t also jumping on the tech bandwagon.

And with a proven ROI of under two months, as well as a big tick in the green credentials and sustainability box thanks to less paper usage, a factor which has helped his team successfully bid for lucrative national council tenders, the fact that others aren’t reaching into their pockets and scrambling to follow his lead is puzzling.

But why isn’t this the case?

Steve believes that the reluctance of those in managerial positions to drive change could be a factor, so his answer to them is “simply come and talk to me.” His willingness to spread the word is of course music to my ears and to those of Dakota’s and Truckfile’s Directors, who firmly advocate the benefits of voice on a daily basis.

According to Steve, the world is becoming ever more difficult so we should all do what we can to make things easier, more streamlined and just simply better.

Having worked within the truck and fleet sector for twenty years, Steve is well-equipped with the knowledge and insight required to recognise that the industry is in need of change and that it is a necessity that managers, in his words, “put their big boy pants on” and embrace it. Not change for change’s sake; but change purely for the sake of unparalleled improvement, future proofing and growth; a change which at least, according to Steve, is long overdue.