TOKYO -- SoftBank has teamed with logistics company Nippon Express on a truck-fleet management service for small freight operators, Nikkei has learned.
The service features a real-time tracking system that shows truck status and location.
Designed as a cloud application, the service eliminates the need for dedicated computer systems, allowing users to locate open vehicles and improve the efficiency of deliveries.
The service is seen as helping Japan as it deals with a chronic driver shortage. Fleet expansion is beyond the reach of most small and midsize domestic operators, which have also been hit with rising wages.
The service will be offered by MeeTruck, a joint venture owned 51% by SoftBank and 49% by Nippon Express. It is scheduled to start on Thursday and costs 15,000 yen ($142) monthly. For this, users can track truck destinations, cargo and expected delivery times.
According to the Japan Trucking Association, more than 90% of domestic freight operators are small and midsize enterprises with 300 or fewer employees.
There are about 60,000 of them in the industry, which experienced steadily rising wages until the coronavirus put a brake on freight traffic.
Still, many experts are concerned that the upward trend in wages will resume as soon as economic activity returns to normal.
SoftBank and Nippon Express hope the new initiative will spur much-needed digital transformation in the logistics sector and ease bottlenecks in trucking.