Lane by lane
By Aaron Huff
Tammy Thornburg is an expert analyst, but finding the profit margin of every trucking lane is no cakewalk. The routes of her employer, B.R. Williams, change constantly.
To make the process more efficient, Thornburg – senior accounting manager for the Oxford, Ala.-based truckload carrier – created a program with Microsoft Access that uses data from the company’s dispatch, accounting and other databases.
“She can do things you can’t even imagine,” says Greg Brown, chief executive of the 170-truck fleet.
But the Access program soon became a bottleneck. When managers needed information to make pricing and other decisions, they had to come through Thornburg to get it. “Nobody else knows Access,” Brown says. “It is cumbersome.”
So in June 2011, Thornburg converted the program to a networked Excel database. Managers now use pivot tables to sort profitability data by customer, lane, date range and other dimensions.
“It makes us so much more responsive to lane analysis by providing it in a format that managers can use without our assistance,” Brown says.
The pivot table is designed to show lane profitability on a roundtrip basis. Trips are identified by customer and destination city of outbound loads. Each trip includes costs and revenues of the outbound load and all backhauls.
Managers focus on the net revenue per mile per trip – the difference in gross revenues and expenses divided by miles. The current goal is to average 72 cents of net revenue per mile for all trips. Since June 2011, B.R. Williams has seen gross revenue per mile increase by 5 cents and net revenue by 7 cents. This upward trend only should continue.
“We expect another 4- to 5-cent increase of gross revenue per mile before yearend, along with 5 to 6 cents of net revenue per mile,” Brown says.
“Part of the investment in technology was to help us become more efficient and look at data we were not looking at before.”
– Jodi Farley, director of operations and safety, MinStar Transport
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