By Matthew Brinker
In the heavy work materials industry, some companies operate their own trucks to ship raw materials and/or finished products to customers, while others use third-party hauling companies to deliver materials. As truck capacity is tight in this economy, businesses in this space need to be able to do more with what they have, or reach out to third parties to fill the gap. Leveraging third-party haulers is a sustainable, low-capital strategy to increase fleet size as the construction business continues to grow.
Materials companies are constantly driven by production, oftentimes reaching out to third-party haulers to fill the gaps that they aren’t able to fill. It’s estimated that more than two-thirds of the heavy work industry will be outsourcing their logistics services in the future.
To make outsourcing logistics beneficial for both parties, suppliers and haulers have to be able to establish trusting partnerships. One way to build this trust is to use logistics technology that provides visibility into the status of an order and enables collaboration between trading partners. With these solutions, suppliers and haulers have complete visibility of all materials, improving customer experience and customer service. These logistics solutions will centralize the entire transportation operation for complete asset tracking, monitoring, management, and payment.
Solutions such as these can help to collaboratively plan trucking needs while providing transparency of trucks to customers and automating driver haul sheet creation. With these types of solutions, contractors can locate, measure the productivity of, and communicate with each truck that is delivering loads. Suppliers can unlock visibility with flexible fleet just like they can with company-owned fleet and coordinate AR/AP functions across all trading partners.
You can’t keep customer service promises without the ability to verify truck locations. When delivering concrete, it is important to know the exact time the truck will arrive so that when the concrete is ready to be poured, you have the right tools and labor there to help with the installation. Therefore, if you are using a third-party hauler, you need to be able to track the truck from plant to jobsite.
This software can also automate paper-based processes: today, drivers mark their activities on a paper haul sheet detailing what was done; staple the paper ticket from entering/exiting jobsites to the haul sheet; then turn the document into accounting for billing purposes. Because documents are on paper, errors are rampant, and paperwork is often lost. Invoices are typically paid on a 30-, 60- or 90-day schedule.
Paying invoices quicker makes drivers happier. Having the ability to take a quote and have it automatically process as an order, which can automatically create an invoice upon shipment, means you can collect on invoices much faster and pay those invoices much quicker. When you speed up the order-to-cash process you improve cash flow. If you place an order with a third-party trucking company that has an automated order entry system, you eliminate paperwork and having to re-key orders. This is a tremendous savings of time.
PRODUCTIVITY & ACCOUNTABILITY
At work, and oftentimes in our personal lives, we get in our own way of success. We tend to keep ourselves from being productive, simply by not holding ourselves accountable. It’s easy to get lost in the mindset of “let’s just get through the day, I’ll do better tomorrow.” However; think about this – a company that owns a fleet of trucks or contracts their jobs out to third party logistic providers depend on their drivers to do everything in their power to deliver their materials on time to the job site. What if each of these drivers had the mindset of “I’ll do better tomorrow?” How would that affect the profitability of that company? Increasing profitability often comes down to fostering an environment of greater employee accountability.
Telematics can improve accountability and productivity by alerting to risky driver behaviors like hard braking, speeding, and sharp turns. You can also track and log driving habits, allowing you to identify and act on repeat offenders. In addition to improving the overall safety of your fleet, this information provides the added bonus of reducing excessive idling, hard braking, and over-acceleration to improve overall fuel efficiency.
Drivers that know they are being monitored by a system like this are less likely to make unnecessary detours or personal stops. They may avoid spending unnecessary time at job sites and/or avoid idling the engine while filling out paperwork in the vehicle. GPS tracking devices aren’t necessarily used to discover what a driver is doing wrong, but what they are doing right. The information provides more clarity of tasks and results, allows drivers to take ownership of their jobs and self-correct, rather than having to be micromanaged.
With greater accountability, it’s easy to determine which drivers are not pulling their weight so that the more productive employees are not punished by having to pick up the slack with extra deliveries or service visits.
Having the ability to manage third-party truck fleets as if they were your own is becoming more prevalent in the industry. Using technology, drivers’ haul sheets are compiled using data generated, and those haul sheets are shared to the back office of both the buyer and seller of hauling. This enables your company to collaboratively plan all your trucking needs while providing transparency of trucks to customers.
About the author:
Matthew Brinker has been with Command Alkon for 5 years. He is the product manager for TrackIt 3P, which brings visibility into material deliveries and streamlines digital processes for ticketing, invoicing, and hauler payments for all trucks, even for those owned by third-parties.
Modern Contractor Solutions, March 2020
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