Answering G.O.D.’s prayers

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Guaranteed overnight delivery – better known as G.O.D. because those letters are prominently displayed on all sides of the carrier’s more than 700 trucks – had a devil of a time finding a two-way communications system that could be integrated with its computerized routing program. The Newark, N.J.-based carrier provides less-than-truckload service throughout the United States.

G.O.D.’s city drivers needed a communications system they could use to record pickups and deliveries of LTL and air freight, receive scheduled and dynamic routing instructions and be in constant contact with their dispatchers.

Key to G.O.D.’s management system is the drivers’ communication device – an interactive pager known as the RIM 950, which is manufactured by Research In Motion of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Powered by Intel 386 processors and AA batteries, the RIM 950 provides a small alphanumeric keypad, a screen and a dial for scrolling through menus for about $250 per unit, says Heath Snow, the carrier’s director of technology.

Using integrated systems
Drivers begin each shift by using the RIM 950 keypad to enter their name and the truck’s odometer reading. Then they download detailed information on stops they are scheduled to make that day. Schedules – as well as all other communications between trucks on the road and dispatchers – are transmitted to drivers’ pagers via the Cingular Wireless Data Network.

Pickups and deliveries are optimized by the Roadshow routing program, which includes a driver and vehicle database, plus information on costs, mileage and times. G.O.D. has been using Roadshow since 1993. The Descartes Systems Group, also headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario, developed and markets the software.

After receiving a day’s schedule, drivers use a time and date-stamped message to inform their dispatcher that they are enroute to the first delivery, and they can send additional preprogrammed messages to advise the terminal each time they arrive at and depart from a stop-off point.

The constant, real-time transmission of stop-off data from drivers on the road into the Roadshow system lets G.O.D.’s operations personnel monitor the entire fleet’s progress. They can realign schedules and routes when, for example, a new pickup order comes in or a driver is delayed.

Snow says G.O.D. has realized two “huge” productivity gains since the communications and routing systems were integrated about 18 months ago. First, the combination of the two technologies allowed G.O.D. to assign 40 drivers to each dispatcher. In a typical LTL environment, a dispatcher generally handles about 20 city drivers. Second, the average number of deliveries each driver handles increased from 12 to 16 per shift, while pickups doubled to an average of eight.

The efficiency benefits from this integration translate into increased revenue per truck, significant fuel savings and bigger paychecks for drivers, who receive productivity incentives. In addition, drivers can concentrate on making pickups and deliveries instead of paperwork, Snow says.

G.O.D. isn’t slowing down on adoption of technology. The carrier soon will use an Internet-based system from Cambridge, Mass.-based 3Plex Inc. to give customers the ability to place orders and have access to the real-time status of their shipments via the Web.

Parry Desmond is executive editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. E-mail pdesmond@eTrucker.com