Less-than-truckload carrier Dayton Freight has invested heavily in office technology, but before 2010 it lacked a way to automate information flow between the office and drivers.
Cell phones were used for two-way radio communications, and drivers used paper forms to complete vehicle inspections and capture work process details such as arrival and departure times, shipment weights and piece counts for pickups and deliveries.
After drivers completed their daily routes, clerks entered work data from the paper forms into the company’s capacity management system.
In August 2010, the company adopted Qualcomm’s MCP200 platform and Circle of Service Workflow application. Dayton Freight uses Workflow to create electronic pre- and post-trip exception forms to categorize, rate and add vehicle defect alerts in the fleet’s maintenance software program. The workflow application also integrates with Dayton Freight’s dispatch and other office systems to capture load details from specially designed work process forms.
“Our pickup information is much more accurate now because it is near real time,” says Anthony Rocco, vice president of operations. “Now we receive this data at the time of pickup, allowing us to plan transportation runs earlier in the day and detouring freight into a hub.”
As part of the implementation, Dayton Freight tethered a barcode scanner to the MCP200. Drivers now scan tracking numbers on barcoded PRO labels that they affix to shipping documents. Scanning improves accuracy by eliminating manual data entry errors.
The company also input company service point locations and ZIP codes into the work process forms stored in the MCP200 devices to validate data entry by drivers. When a driver enters a destination ZIP code, the software asks the driver to confirm the city. This instant verification enables Dayton Freight to get accurate shipment data immediately so load planners can begin routing freight to the correct service center destination.
Since converting to this electronic workflow, Dayton Freight has seen its stops per hour increase by about 3 percent and has reduced data entry labor.
Intermec, a provider of rugged mobile computers, has developed features that help drivers automate data collection. Its Verdex (verify data extraction) tool has expanded the use of barcode scanning and automatically can capture and verify machine-printed information such as addresses from paper forms.
Intermec’s CN50 and CN70 devices were designed for transportation applications. Drivers for couriers and express delivery services typically have a lot of key entry at the point of pickup. The consignee’s address must be entered into the mobile computer to update the office systems.
With Verdex, a driver could aim an Intermec device at a bill of lading to extract the address into the device; the software then would validate the address with an onboard database in a matter of seconds.
Intermec computers also have an option called Enhanced Mobile Document Imaging (eMDI) that can capture images of documents at the time a driver steps on the customer’s dock to make a pickup or delivery.
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