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7 things we can learn from the robust fleet management that helps Amazon

If we try to encapsulate Amazon’s enormity into a single statement, it is their ability to leverage technology.

amazon delivery boxes stacked on a porch
Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

A recent study of Amazon’s network scale was an eye-opener to the world of fleets and logistics. If all the fulfillment spaces of Amazon are placed one next to another, they will span an area of 243.4 million square miles. Amazon is a company that has become synonymous with flawless delivery over the last decade.

Amazon’s trucking and shipping fleet is ever-growing and spread across the world. This robust size was born from the demand that they have created for their services. It is impossible to imagine the fleet management scale of Amazon, seeing the enormous numbers that change each year. Back in 2005, Amazon bought a fleet of thousand trucks to ferry goods between their fulfillment centers.

Additionally, they also contract or own delivery vehicles for area-specific schedules. In a drastic turn of events, in 2015, Amazon started its fleet of cargo aircraft that is said to reach seventy airplanes by the year 2021.

The obvious question is: “What does Amazon do that makes them such an effective fleet?”. The years of experience and the ability to innovate has given Amazon its edge. Amazon is not just a leader in the USA, but they have a global footprint of over 23 countries.

Here are seven traits that have helped Amazon setup the most robust fleet network possible. While these examples cannot directly imply to small fleet business, they represent how the best in the business function.

1. Substantial Fleet Size

A vivid advantage that a large establishment like Amazon possesses is the enormous size of the fleet. They contract their delivery through various channels and even own their warehouses. These have top-of-the-line hubs that are fully equipped with automated-sorting mechanisms powered by augmented reality technology.

The fleet is also ‘zone dependent.’ This means the fleets operate a particular region and ensure that the deadlines meet within that circumference. This smaller sub-division makes it easier to work and manage the staff.

2. Automated Process Control

Amazon, as a company, has always spearheaded automation. Be it their cloud-computing services like Amazon Web Services or the use of voice assistants like Alexa. They have a prominent eye for fleet management solutions that are machine and tech-driven.

From the time an order is created, till the time the shipment hits your door — the whole process is a sequence of commands and prompts. The booking, the stock-count, and customer support are all automated to the maximum efficiency. This computerization makes the fleet system immune to human errors.

3. Computer-Generated Scheduling

All of Amazon’s route-planning and scheduling is also an automated process. They study the order-load and purchasing patterns from each region and deploy more warehouses and fleets when needed. The warehousing of products depends on the supply and demand analysis.

Advanced route-mapping software simulates the delivery routes and the shipment transfer to the warehouse. This software will ensure that the fleet is never running on a low or empty load, saving costs, and making the process more seamless.

Automated planning has allowed Amazon to do same-day and one-day deliveries. This level of operations speed on a global level is impossible without the aid of brilliant technology like edge computing.

4. Large Sales Network

Apart from the fleet’s size, Amazon has also enabled other users to leverage their network and make sales. Although others can register as a vendor, the company still manages to make a substantial profit from this; and extends its customer acquisition rate.

Services like the ‘Amazon Seller’ and ‘Amazon Influencer Program‘ and ‘Affiliate Linking’ have all been a great way to entice more users to use their network. Amazon is creating an extensive network with collaborations to enhance its distribution channels.

We also cannot ignore the fact that Amazon’s network was built from years of practical analysis. They do not just run operations; they also study their demographics and tailor-make the supply.

5. Constant Innovation

Amazon, which started as an e-com company, is today out-performing the shipping industry’s logistic standards. Their thirst for innovation has enabled this change. The fleets used by Amazon are always equipped with the latest tech, which helps them stay ahead of the circuit.

Amazon was also one of the first companies to experiment with autonomous vehicles and drone systems for delivery. They have brought machine-learning to work in harmony with the fleet operations. When Amazon cannot find a market solution, they develop their own products to meet the need.

6. Use Of IoT And AWS

The Amazon fleet is infamous for using IoT to enhance the supply chain process. IoT is a network of devices that can communicate with each other remotely. They can be used to trigger alerts, manage power, or register data. These devices can help fleet managers and drivers alike.

IoT also helped the company automate the onboarding process. Amazon uses IoT for data collections and maintenance. For example, if a carrier, part of the fleet, breaks down and cannot fulfill its route, IoT will warn the hub to dispatch another vehicle.

7. Fast-Pace Fleet Health Management

The use of automation to keep a check on fleet health is not restricted to Amazon alone. Virtual diagnostics devices plugged into the fleet’s electronics supply constant updates. These will feed real-time data to the fleet manager to his/her desk.

The devices are useful to calculate engine idling, power dispensation, and fuel consumption.

For a fleet that is always in motion, the use of such tools is a prerequisite. They also maintain a permanent record of the fleet’s health with help make better fleet purchases and automate the service process. It helps predict a problem before it can occur and break the fleet-network down.

Final Thoughts

If we try to encapsulate Amazon’s enormity into a single statement, it is their ability to leverage technology. With the support of the right technology, any fleet service can produce supremely high productivity. Technology does not exist to displace human resources but to derive maximum efficiency from them.

The use of telematics, fleet management software, GPS devices, etc. are some of the simplest ways to scale a business. These tools will enhance the staff’s safety, generate higher revenues, and help you scale the market faster.

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Chris has been blogging since the early days of the internet. He primarily focuses on topics related to tech, business, marketing, and pretty much anything else that revolves around tech. When he's not writing, you can find him noodling around on a guitar or cooking up a mean storm for friends and family.

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