When most people think about a delivery job, they think of days spent on the open road, free of the hustle and bustle of general office life. They think of time spent outside and largely spent alone, far away from the prying eyes of management. Their days are theirs so long as their packages are delivered safely and in one piece. Micromanagement is the last thing on their mind.
Technology, however, has changed that. And Amazon, in true Amazon fashion, is taking the technology to the extreme to boost efficiency and control in its logistical systems. And, like so many of the company’s moves, it appears to be doing so at the expense of worker satisfaction and treatment.
The company is planning to roll out camera systems capable of constantly monitoring the road as well as the driver while the driver is operating the delivery vehicle. The cameras will track metrics like driver distractions, hard acceleration and braking, excessive lateral forces, and even U-turns and automatically upload video and other metrics of those events for management review. In addition, the cameras will know when a driver runs a red light or stop sign, tailgates another driver, or becomes distracted while driving and will instantly warn the driver when such events have been detected. In essence, the driver will have a manager with them at all times that does not blink, take a break, or give them a second of individual freedom while simultaneously evaluating their every move from the moment they start the vehicle’s engine.
Tracking technology has been used by delivery and logistics companies for years at this point but most of it has been app-based. Modern phones are loaded with GPS connectivity as well as inertia and orientation sensors and are capable of determining acceleration and braking rates along with lateral forces from hard turns. Those sensors can be accessed by corporate apps used by drivers to evaluate their performance behind the wheel. In some cases, reports generated by the apps can be used in determining a driver’s ongoing compensation.
UPS, FedEx, and DHL have all declined to state whether they have plans to implement smart cameras in their own vehicles. Still, it would be hard to imagine a world in which the data the devices could provide would be left ignored by some companies while being used and exploited by others.
In the meantime, delivery drivers may have to come to grips with the notion that their managers will be a constant presence in their trucks from the start of their route until they park the vehicle at the end of the day. And, like a scene out of a dystopian novel, they’ll be right there waiting for them the next morning as well.