The paperless office has been an aspiration for many since the dawn of the internet and the digital revolution that has followed. Transport offices up and down the country are still relying on paper records to store information about what was delivered, to who, where, when and how. But could digital alternatives be a viable replacement?
Even back in 2014 executives from Salesforce and Coca-Cola were running most business tasks from their smartphones – so they said. Three years on shouldn’t this have filtered into other aspects of office life? Even in the transport sector?
Well apparently it hasn’t. According to OSR Group, a company providing document management solutions, the average office worker still uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year and 68% of that is considered as waste. That seems a lot, but one statistic which cannot lie is global consumption, which shows an increase by a half since 1980 with every person in the UK now consuming the equivalent of 4.48 trees per year.
Last year Epson, the printer company, carried out a survey of over 3,600 European employees and found that 83% feel a “paperless office is unrealistic”. The UK respondents said they were still heavy paper users with 77% storing and managing paper records, and nearly a fifth (19%) saying they kept all records in paper format.
In 2016 hauliers lifted 26 million tonnes of pulp, paper and paper products – more than in any year since these particular records began in 2013. That’s more than the annual total weight of mail lifted, or dairy products and ice cream, or textiles or pharmaceuticals. In other words – we are still moving around a tremendous amount of paper.
Paper in Transport
That said, transport could also be in the best position to benefit from going paperless. Record-keeping is essential to the road transport industry, particularly for maintaining an accurate log of deliveries and proof of collection. Let’s face it though, with paperwork signed out on the road, it is more likely than in most sectors to be misplaced or damaged.
Products like Microlise Proof of Delivery (POD) are designed to solve this by providing visibility of operations electronically. Customer signatures can be captured on a ruggedized tablet or mobile device with all records stored in the cloud and confirmation automatically sent straight to the customer.
Tools like these also features task managers, two-way/voice communications and enables access to site notes and manifest information. Exceptions and problems can be logged, so that errors can be quickly identified and future errors mitigated.
Having relied on paper-based processes, Travis Perkins opted for Microlise POD as a way of removing paperwork, whilst boosting safety by incorporating vehicle checks and improving delivery accuracy. More than 2,100 devices have been deployed across the group.
The company reports a 98% adoption rate among drivers: “It’s a really exciting future in terms of where this can go. We can’t speak highly enough about what Microlise has done as partners for us. To be able to sit there and say to a customer, everything you have ordered, we’ll deliver by 10 o’clock and actually deliver that… fantastic,” said CEO Frank Elkins.
The Death of Paper
So, the much heralded death of paper seems further away than it should be. But cost effective digital solutions are now available to provide an alternative. The pioneers are already benefiting through lower overheads, better record-keeping and improved customer communication.
The irony is, the industry responsible for supplying the record amounts of paper each year, could be the best placed to benefit the most from the paperless revolution. When, if ever, will your operation go paper free?