There will be no more snoozing on the job for the mobile workforce of Pickering, Ontario– based Olympic Whole-sale Company, since it recently deployed a new GPS service to track the daily progress of its delivery trucks.
With 10 sales representatives and 13 trucks, Olympic was searching for a way to gain control over the productivity of its workforce. “We had received a number of advisements from the public about our trucks continually parked in alleyways, with the driver sleeping for two hours,” explains Bob Haliburton, distribution manager for Olympic. “In addition, there were extended breakfast and lunch breaks that we were advised about, a couple of routes that ran into excessive overtime that could not be rationalized, and we also had concerns about sales reps’ working hours.” Granted, no one likes to be spied upon, but with reports like this flooding back to Olympic management, it’s obvious that a solution for keeping better track of trucks and drivers was well warranted.
Olympic is a family-operated bakery and food service distributor, serving the province of Ontario. It was founded in 1936 as a manufacturer of preserves, jams and pie fillings, but today the company distributes more than 3,000 ingredients in a catalog of dry goods, frozen foods, paper products, cleaning supplies and cake decorating accessories, including supplying food service products to the baking industry.
The company was dealing with a crippling lack of visibility into its delivery fleet and operating in an environment with very small margins. Unable to generate increased revenues through price increases, Olympic needed to find a cost-effective solution that would streamline costs and efficiency while also fitting into its operating environment and culture. Enter Cube Route.
Based in Toronto, Ontario, Cube Route is a provider of on-demand logistics services that facilitate the management of the delivery process for transportation and field service organizations.
I’ll Be Watching You
Olympic deployed Cube Route’s GPS Tracking Service to drivers with GPS-enabled phones that could update their activities throughout the day. The subscription-based service enables the company to track its delivery staff, determine vehicle locations, record shift times and breaks, and capture job and work order information. GPS tracking is initiated the moment the driver departs for his first stop of the day. GPS pings are immediately sent from the phone, automatically updating a driver’s location, speed and direction on maps on a dedicated customer Web site that can be accessed anywhere through a standard Web browser by Olympic management.
“The Cube Route GPS Tracking service was the perfect choice for an operation such as ours,” says Haliburton. “Drivers are paid on an hourly basis, and a real-time view of driver location at any given point in time is essential to controlling costs.
“This also was our first step into developing key performance indicators (KPIs) for our fleet,” continues Haliburton. “We subscribed to [Cube Route’s] base-level service, which does not provide the metrics that other levels of service do. However, on an initial rollout basis, we were prepared to do the additional work until we felt it was cost justified to move to the next level.”
The only previous tracking technology that Olympic had entertained was the use of mobile phones and radios, which could not provide the visibility that the company wanted. “As far as routing, all technology was manual. Also, there was no capturing of KPIs. In the future, the next levels can
provide us routing and KPIs,” explains Haliburton. “Cube Route found an excellent solution that we could grow into by providing a base service. The technology runs on our mobiles phones, which means we are not locked to the activity of the truck only.”
Since Olympic initiated the GPS solution, it has driven efficiencies into the organization and reduced delivery costs considerably. Before implementation, Olympic managers only knew when drivers left in the morning and when they ended their day. “Knowing that they can be monitored has acted as a major incentive to productivity with the fleet. We have reduced overtime, in the amount of about 10 percent, on routes that we could not rationalize before,” boasts Haliburton. “And, we are now capturing first-level KPIs with documentation, as well as scheduling route changes during the day by determining locations of the closest drivers.” This has helped speed deliveries and reduce fuel costs.
All in all, Olympic says implementation went smoothly and the service continues to operate very effectively. “The biggest challenge was the cultural change. The drivers had carte blanche until this system went in,” says Haliburton. “We met resistance from some longer-term employees, who we suspected were a problem. But the more diligent drivers had no problem with it.”
User buy-in and training clearly has the potential to deep-six any mobile deployment. Haliburton continues, “About half the drivers learned the system very quickly. The other half took a little more time, but the rollout of the project and the processes were well mapped out. Good planning and persistence are vital. Do not become distracted by driver resistance.”
After experiencing the results it has achieved with the GPS Tracking service, Olympic is evaluating the feasibility of transitioning to the Cube Route Visibility service. This service combines sophisticated tracking and planning functionality with the simplicity of a Web-based service to provide dispatchers, managers and support agents with a real-time view of driver movement and order status across an entire fleet of vehicles.
“Our ROI for the base service was minimal. We wanted the sense of control established, and that warranted the cost, which we feel is very reasonable,” concludes Haliburton. “When we move to the next level, we want full cost recovery plus.”
Barbara A. Laurencio is a freelance writer in New Jersey.