A Midlands haulage firm is planning the next phase of expansion following investment in new transport management technology (TMS), which has already delivered substantial efficiency savings in less than six-months.
Worksop-based J Priestley Transport, which employs 16 people including 12 drivers, has been working with Mandata (Management & Data Services) Ltd to implement a TMS across its national and growing international road haulage operations.
The firm adopted the technology, which has replaced a paper-based system, in the summer of 2017 to raise overall standards of service and fleet-wide vehicle performance. The move has helped to simplify operations, provide fully automated logistics planning and scheduling capabilities, improve cost management and seen better utilisation of driver and fleet resources.
The investment is already paying dividends for the haulier's 15-strong commercial vehicle fleet, which clocks up more than two million miles per year delivering goods for customers who include Sabichi Homewares and Taylors Eye Witness.
Transport manager Jay Bownes, who was the driving force behind the move to adopt new cloud-based technology, estimates conservatively that Priestley's is now operating 50% more efficiently than it did under the previous system, which had been in place for more than 25 years.
"There's no question that the transition to Mandata has been successful with demonstrable benefits," he said. "It's had a huge impact on operations, automating procedures that were previously quite laborious and labour intensive, delivering overall efficiencies in the process.
"The system is extremely user-friendly and because its easy-to-use, drivers with busy delivery schedules to complete, have adapted to using it quickly. Indeed, they feel the technology is great and are extremely supportive of the investment, seeing the value and benefit in terms of time savings and better, smarter frontline operations."
Specifically developed for the road haulage and logistics sector, Mandata's TMS brings together operational information into a single PC or cloud-based system that links to vehicle and driver smartphones out on the road.
The technology, which can simplify the planning of work, track operations and monitor driver behaviour and vehicle performance levels, automates critical processes, eliminating time-consuming repetitive tasks, providing fleet visibility in real-time and alerting operators and drivers to any issues.
Specifically, the management team can monitor a range of important performance indicators all at the same time, including vehicle performance, driver behaviour patterns and fuel usage.
Currently, access to the TMS at Priestley's is limited to three users but this is expected to increase as the firm expands and invests further in its warehouse and logistics in the next 12 months.
The migration to paperless operations is seen by Jay and his colleagues as part of an initiative to provide greater transparency at every stage of a delivery's journey, from initial booking of the job to the final acceptance of the load.
"Customers are always keen to know where their delivery is at any one time," said Jay Bownes. "With the Mandata system, staff have the visibility they need at the touch of a button, and all involved in the job can access and view the same information.
"Using TMS provides improved day-to-day planning and operational visibility. Staff holidays and sickness leave are now better recorded, planned and monitored. EDI [electronic data interchange] capabilities are also very beneficial, enabling customers to quickly book in jobs online and feed them directly into the system."
Delivery document scanning has also improved; now being carried out using smartphone POD technology that's linked to Sage 50 accounting software for faster and more streamlined invoicing - an audit trail is automatically provided.
Jay Bownes said that Mandata has worked closely to understand Priestley's business and support a solution with training, and added: "Training and ongoing technical support are important for us, ensuring that everyone, from office staff to frontline delivery drivers, fully understands the technology to get maximum value from its capabilities.
"The system has been integrated across the business and Mandata has supported us throughout every step of the process with training that's been impressive and thorough. They clearly understand our business needs and have even suggested ways to improve processes, so that technology is better utilised and far more productive."
Over the next 12 months, Priestley's will be hoping to invest further in its core services with a new centralised warehousing facility coming on stream in Worksop in the summer of 2018 to provide additional capacity and meeting continued customer demand. Mandata's TMS will be integrated further with the new scanners and other handling equipment that will be used at the new site, supporting tasks and further streamlining 24/7 operations.
Drivers will also be receiving dedicated new handheld devices, which will provide a platform to host further Mandata technology including the Manifest app. These will be linked directly to the TMS as the transport operator continues to look at ways of improving performance and efficiency savings through the application of smart, user friendly cloud-based technologies.