Southeastern Freight Lines, a regional less-than-truckload transportation services provider, is introducing a service feature new to the LTL industry: Estimated Time of Delivery. Southeastern says it now can estimate the delivery of a shipment within a two-hour window and provide this information to customers via the Internet, PDAs and mobile phones.
Previously, customers could visit various reports online to see that a shipment was out for delivery, but they had to call the service center to get an estimate of when the shipment would be delivered. This was usually a “guesstimate” of when the driver would be in the area based on experience. While not always accurate, this was the best that could be done given the technology available.
The new ETD feature is supported by the information technology investments made by Southeastern over the past decade. Southeastern’s Synergy Routing System designs the most efficient route for freight delivery, taking into account customer addresses, appointment times and even the fact that right turns are faster than left turns. Using this data and standard handling times associated with the volume of freight, Southeastern is able to develop a schedule of estimated delivery times. A plus/minus one hour window is added to the computed delivery time to allow for traffic or customer delays.
Once a window of time is established, Southeastern’s Laser Dispatch System provides real-time data communications that show the actual route start time along with the arrival and departure times at each customer stop. This information corrects the original schedule, if necessary, and if a delay impacts the schedule outside the two-hour window, the system automatically adjusts the subsequent deliveries accordingly. The ETD then is displayed on the status report that can be viewed by the customer and service center associates.
“In today’s market, providing customers with the information they need when they need it is just as important as moving the freight, and our customers can always count on Southeastern to be at the forefront of transportation technology,” says Braxton Vick, senior vice president of corporate planning and development for Southeastern Freight Lines, based in Lexington, S.C. “By making the best use of our onboard computer technologies, satellite and terrestrial communications, geocoding tools, sophisticated software and the Internet, we are able to keep our customers updated with the most accurate information available.”