Magazine Article | January 5, 2010

Real-Time Communication Crucial To Mission-Critical Deliveries

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

By Integrated Solutions Magazine

For the past 12 years, Street Fleet has operated as a courier service providing same-day delivery and scheduled runs to Minneapolis and the surrounding five-state region. Street Fleet has contracts with thousands of companies for the missioncritical delivery of legal documents, medical supplies, equipment, and other necessary goods, making more than 1,000 deliveries a day. The company's interactive website allows customers to place orders online and track their status in real time, a service typically only available through large courier services such as FedEx. With such a service in place, Street Fleet CEO Joe McGraw recognized the need for real-time data communications between the company's 100 vehicles in the field –– including cars, pickups, vans, delivery trucks, and bicycles –– and its dispatching system.

McGraw deployed the internal dispatching system by choosing integrator Emkat, Inc., a company that automates business processes utilizing Penchant Software. With that area of the business addressed, Street Fleet needed a rugged mobile computing device to tie in to its real-time dispatching system to provide real-time data communications. The company sought a device that would incorporate signature capture, would work well in extreme environments, would integrate with Emkat's deployment of Penchant Software, and would sustain battery life through the entire workday.

Street Fleet chose Psion Teklogix Ikôn rugged mobile computing devices and began deployment in all 90 field dispatch vehicles. A major factor in Street Fleet's selection of the Ikôn is its ability to run real-time data. Street Fleet now has the power to communicate more efficiently and track the GPS coordinates of all its new drivers. "Real-time data, bar code scanning, and signature capture not only place us ahead of our competition but impress our customers and allow them to have immediate status updates," says McGraw. To communicate with the Ikôn device, Street Fleet uses Penchant Software's dispatchOffice platform, which manages Internet order entries and can also determine the best driver and route with GPS mapping.

"Our customers rely on us to provide timely delivery of medical devices, lab specimens, and other lifesaving medical supplies on a daily basis. In order to accomplish this, it is imperative that we are using the most advanced technology to guarantee each delivery from dispatch to delivery," said McGraw. These high-priority supplies and documents require significant attention with on-time, safe delivery. The signature capture feature ensures the package has been delivered successfully, and customers can track status of deliveries online in real time.

Fleet Management Cuts Costs, Eases Dot Compliance

Fluke Transportation is a truckload and less-than-truckload carrier that provides same-day and next-day delivery for companies located in southern Ontario and upstate New York. Fluke was having difficulty tracking its fleet of tractors and trailers and gaining real-time insight into operations and status. As a result of this limited insight, Fluke was directing more budget and resources than were required to ensure the efficiency of daily operations. For example, if customer requirements spiked on short notice, Fluke often brought in more equipment to satisfy the immediate customer need. "In our business, we measure value by how quickly we can ship to customers," says Jack Mayes, president of Fluke Transportation. "In our efforts to consistently achieve that value, we were experiencing higher costs from obtaining additional equipment to satisfy customer needs or from sending drivers out to look for trailers."

With the goal of improving operations, ensuring equipment efficiency, and reducing costs, Fluke wanted a solution that could provide upto- the-minute insight into its fleet. Fluke installed the TELUS Fleet Tracking Bundle, powered by Fleet Complete, in 120 tractors. Fluke then began to focus on the reporting capabilities inherent in the system. "We run daily speeding reports and do random audits on speeding. If we see a trend with any one driver, we can report back to him right away. But the drivers know we have implemented this process, so we rarely see anyone speeding, which improves fuel economy, ensures driver safety, and reduces accidents. Those things alone are worth the cost of the system," says Mayes.

Fluke is also running samples of drivers' performance to show activity over any period of time. On a weekly basis, Fluke's safety and compliance department compares those reports to driver logs. This accountability has motivated drivers to be more accurate in their logs, which assists in DOT (Department of Transportation) regulation compliance and reduces fines. For Mayes, the biggest advantage has been reducing overtime. "One of our largest revenue challenges is the amount of overtime we need to run to meet our just-in-time commitments. Now we can track hours and find ways to replace those drivers before the overtime kicks in. With our previous system, we wouldn't know that information until payroll. Having proactive insight has helped us significantly, and those changes have an immediate impact on the bottom line." The next step is to roll the GPS systems into its trailer fleet, starting with the reefer trailers. "I estimate a 20% reduction in the number of trailers we run. Reducing our trailer fleet from 400 to 325 will create an immediate cost savings of $375,000 — and that's just from having insight and information that we can act on," says Mayes.

Used with permission from Integrated Solutions For Retailers magazine.