Technology leads fleets’ efforts to diversify their service
By Aaron Huff
Two years ago, Rocking T Transportation still was hauling cattle exclusively. But when its largest customer decided to start a private fleet, company president Brent Shilling had 90 days to act before the contract expired.
Shilling purchased a fleet of reefer trailers and solicited customers in the meat industry for freight. A few months later, he bought pneumatic tank trailers and began hauling frac sand to oil fields for drilling.
The new refrigerated and oilfield operations recaptured the lost revenue from the cattle haul, but they also created an information void. As a cattle hauler, Amarillo, Texas-based Rocking T had been making one-stop deliveries to a small number of locations. It now had to manage multistop loads, irregular routes and unexpected delays at shipping and receiving locations. Having real-time visibility of drivers and assets became critical.
As part of the transition, the company implemented PeopleNet’s mobile communications and onboard computing system. Through a real-time interface with its SSI Power Pro dispatch software, Rocking T is operating more efficiently than ever with 25 pneumatic tankers and 50 reefers added to its scaled-back fleet of 15 cattle trailers.
In hindsight, losing the contract turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Rocking T. “When we were relying on one commodity, any market fluctuations in volume would really upset our daily business,” Shilling says. “Now we are able to better balance between commodities.”
Whether a fleet decides to diversify its operations in the aftermath of a crisis or as part of an ongoing strategy, technology will be as critical to success as any investment in equipment and infrastructure.
Where to go?
During his keynote address at the ALK Transportation Technology Summit last May, Derek Leathers, president and chief operating officer of Werner Enterprises, said transportation companies must evolve continually to survive.
“When we were relying on one commodity, any market fluctuations in volume would really upset our daily business.”
– Brent Shilling, president, Rocking T Transportation
Werner Enterprises has grown from a truckload carrier into a global logistics provider with $2 billion in revenue and $103 million in annual net income. While the company has 7,300 trucks and 23,000 trailers to move freight, equipment is not its only asset in demand. Werner also has grown by using technology to move freight for its customers in these areas:
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