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"Positive Results From Day One With GIS"
Advantage Delivery Relieves Logistical Headaches
Advantage Delivery of Forest Park, Illinois, provides long-haul and distribution trucking services to the six-county Chicago area. The long-haul division operates 16 tractors and 30 trailers, delivering time-sensitive shipments of office supplies and general commodities. Customers were constantly calling to check on delivery status, and dispatchers would attempt to call drivers' cell phones to determine locations and delivery times. But sometimes it was difficult to make contact, and location information given by the drivers (e.g., mile markers or exit numbers) was not always meaningful to the dispatcher.
Advantage Delivery began seeking a solution to this logistical dilemma, and in early 2002 Chicago-based Esri Business Partner Truck Dispatching Innovations installed a pair of systems from Esri Business Partner Cloudberry Wireless Services (San Diego, California) throughout the Advantage Delivery fleet. Combining Cloudberry TerraTrak+ and DualTrak+, each vehicle is now equipped with a GPS tracking unit plus an iPAQ Pocket PC messaging module, providing real-time tracking and two-way messaging between the driver and the dispatcher.
Managing the Fleet
The dispatcher manages the fleet using a Desktop Client from Cloudberry that delivers maps and options for fleet managers. This enterprise-level application incorporates MapObjects embeddable mapping and GIS components from Esri. MapObjects enables the Desktop Client to offer Advantage Delivery support for a wide variety of data sources and image formats.
"MapObjects provides advanced data handling for optimized performance, on-the-fly projection management, advanced geocoding capabilities, and built-in compatibility with ArcIMS Web connectivity middleware," says Andrew Nickerson, vice president, Cloudberry Business Development. "In addition, MapObjects helps enable a powerful Cloudberry application program interface to allow customers to develop their own custom applications built around the Cloudberry system, which utilizes national and street level maps by Geographic Data Technology, Inc."
According to Advantage Delivery's Operations Manager Tom Krapil, "We liked the fact that the system Truck Dispatching Innovations provided would work with our existing office PCs and that we didn't have to install a bunch of special computers. We're a small fleet, so we wanted something scalable that would grow with our Business and help us improve service and save money right away. We also couldn't afford a lot of training or vehicle downtime, so we needed something that was easy to install and use."
Installation took less than 90 minutes per truck, and dispatchers were tracking vehicles the very first day. Using Cloudberry Position Reports, Advantage Delivery's dispatchers are able to display every vehicle's current location with address, speed, heading, and miles traveled for each vehicle on their desktop PCs. Using Cloudberry Measure Distance Mode, dispatchers can obtain on-the-spot calculations of driver distance from delivery destinations, allowing for precise response to customer inquiries.
According to Advantage Delivery Dispatcher Joy Watanabe, "I used to spend half my day trying to reach drivers on their cell phones. When a customer would call for an update, I would try to locate the driver, then call the customer back with the delivery status. Now I can respond to the customer immediately just by checking the truck's location on the computer. I've even started e-mailing customers in advance of their deliveries to let them know exactly when the shipment will arrive."
Krapil comments, "From a management perspective, we saw positive results from day one, especially in the area of payroll. Drivers are keeping more accurate route logs, since now it's easy to compare them with the new daily tracking reports. Off-route and unauthorized mileage has dropped to near zero."
In addition, continues Krapil, "We've also been able to deal more effectively with emergencies and last-minute changes. When we have an unscheduled delivery, it's easy to locate the nearest driver and message him on his iPAQ. In the past, we'd have to keep trying on the cell phone, and sometimes we never would get through, especially when the truck was out of cell coverage. Now we're never out of contact with the drivers."
For more information, contact Andrew Nickerson, vice president, Business Development, Cloudberry Wireless Services, (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, toll-free tel.: 866-256-8323, fax: 858-677-9959, Web: www.cloudberry.com).