More and more companies expect carriers to provide up-to-date information on the location, condition and precise delivery times of their cargo. Process automation helps to meet these requirements while offering an opportunity to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and attract new customers. Plus, it helps to plan the exact route and cut out “empty kilometres”, thus reducing fuel costs – an important aspect at a time of petrol shortages and increasing diesel prices.
Take Prime Transport, a transport and forwarding company from Poland, with a fleet of several dozen vehicles serving routes all over Europe. The company specialises in handling orders for distributors of electrical and household appliances. Prime Transport often struggled with customer complaints about damage to goods or packaging during transportation. It was difficult to prove the cause of the damage – did it happen en route or during loading or unloading? The company needed a tool that would enable it to collect not just standard telematics data, such as vehicle positioning or fuel consumption, but also to monitor and document the condition of the load at the stage of loading and unloading.
Astrata has equipped Prime Transport’s drivers with its DriverLinc tablets, which can easily be used, for example, to take pictures of the cargo and upload them to Prime Transport’s system. The portable screen helps to document everything at every stage of transport. As a result, the number of complaints about damage to goods during transport decreased by c. 80 per cent. That’s significant because Prime Transport now receives full remuneration for completed orders, without disputed deductions.
But that’s not the only financial benefit of Astrata’s solution. Previously, Prime Transports’ drivers often relied on their own GPS units, making it difficult to estimate the exact delivery time of goods at the customer site for example. Now they have a standardised navigation system which, from the TMS tool, allows the dispatcher to plan the exact route to be followed by the vehicle, known as corridor planning. This results in a 3-4 per cent reduction in “empty kilometres”, which in turn means significant fuel savings. Thanks to the excellent integration of Astrata’s telematics system into the existing TMS tools, each order is registered in Prime Transport’s system and the driver receives the coordinates of the planned route from the dispatcher when he sets out.
In addition, after the implementation of telematics, other operating costs also dropped. Automation has reduced the workload of the coordinator in the office, who now no longer has to manually copy information about loading and unloading points, delivery dates, etc. The telematics system has enabled the company to increase the number of vehicles assigned to each dispatcher. Also, the data that flows into the system allows Prime Transport to analyse and compare planned and completed routes and take measures to improve efficiency.
Importance of data
It is worth paying attention to the data that helps to plan drivers’ working hours, route corridors and fuel for example. Automation has made this complicated task a lot easier. The employee responsible for setting drivers’ working hours now knows exactly how much time the driver spent unloading a specific delivery, when and how long he was resting, and how many more kilometres he has to travel. This information, in combination with real-time tachograph data, facilitates efficient time management.
The implementation of telematics and the automation of processes should be carried out comprehensively and with sufficient employee training. Key to all this is communication with the drivers. Regardless of how good a technological solution may be, there is always a human being at the beginning of the entire chain whose commitment and efficient communications are needed for the technology to work well. In this case, it is the drivers who take pictures of the goods, update the status on the tablet screen on an ongoing basis, and report any problems. Before making the decision to implement telematics solutions, it is necessary to plan the future training of drivers on the devices with which their vehicles will be equipped. It is also important not to overload drivers with additional tasks. The more tasks, the greater the likelihood that the data flow will be delayed.
A successful automation project requires a clearly defined goal. Before starting to design a platform, the providers of telematics and TMS solutions – particularly if they are to integrate with each other efficiently – must know exactly what the carrier’s and the client’s expectations are and what data will be the most important for them. Every company is different, be it in terms of fleet size, specific orders, etc. Knowing these details is vital when it comes to designing a comprehensive system that can be modified and adapted to current needs.
Dariusz Danielewski, President of Prime Transport, says: “Introducing modern telematics tools has helped to reduce the number of complaints about damage to goods during transport by approximately 80 per cent. It was important for us to gain the support of our drivers, without whom we would not be able to take advantage of the opportunity offered by modern IT solutions.”
Łukasz Dąbrowski, Sales Manager at Astrata, said: “As a provider of advanced solutions for companies from the TSL industry, Astrata offers tools to improve vehicle fleet management, monitoring of drivers’ working time and business analytics. This saves time and cost and helps make companies more competitive.”