Dispatching a robin’s egg blue-colored truck

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Updated Sep 28, 2012

You know who the robin’s blue egg-colored trucks belong to, but have you ever wondered how Gordon Trucking gets the right truck to the right place at the right time?

Gordon Trucking, a Pacific, Wash.-based company, has used the distinctive color since 1960. The company’s trucks can be spotted nationwide as they cover four million miles a week, or 208 million miles a year, which is further than the distance from the Earth to the Sun and back.

With such an expansive network, any opportunity to lower costs and eliminate waste will have a big impact on profitability and the savings it can offer customers.

“Our customers are very cost driven,” said Jim Kobeski, director of regional operations, “and our costs keep going up. Compared to a few years ago, the cost of just the truck itself has gone up from $25,000 to $30,000.”

With such volatile costs to manage, technology has become the only answer for Gordon Trucking and many other fleets today.

“When you look at trucking just 10 or 15 years ago it was all a manual process. Things weren’t done with computers. Today, it’s all about computers and optimization technology,” he said.

Gordon Trucking recently shared some insights about how it uses the Driver&Load module from the Manhattan Carrier software suite. Developed by Manhattan Associates, the Driver&Load module can match specific drivers to the best possible loads across a carrier’s entire network in real time, thereby reducing empty miles, increasing utilization and improving driver satisfaction.

Gordon was interested in the product because they rely on 32 planners scattered throughout their system to meet specific performance goals each week. As Kobeski explained, “Each planner’s goals are different, based on their geographic area and the make-up of our customers’ freight. The great thing about Driver&Load is that there is a built-in usage report. At any time you can enter the planner’s initials and pop out the usage in real time so managers can hold their planners accountable. It’s very important to see what they’re doing.”

Driver&Load also enables compliance with Hours of Service and CSA 2010. Since the implementation, Kobeski noted that their primary usage has improved substantially and that there is a direct correlation between use of the solution and a 5.5 percent increase in equipment utilization they realized during the same time period. The company has also decreased deadhead miles by 5.2 percent.

Two years ago, Gordon Trucking added Drop&Swap, another module in the Manhattan Carrier suite of solutions. Designed to improve utilization and prepare for unplanned events such as driver emergencies, breakdowns, and service issues, Drop&Swap finds the best swaps, or relays, in the system to create the most efficient load swap.

Drop&Swap provides two features that appealed to Gordon, with its expansive, complex network: Seek&Destroy and Capacity Creator.

Seek&Destroy enables Gordon to “seek” their entire network of drivers and loads all in one place. This what-if modeling takes place in real time, seeking out potential problems with loads, drivers, hours of service, ETAs and any number of parameters set by Gordon for their specific needs. To create this manually would require hundreds of steps.

Once the system has proactively sought out all potential issues, it then provides options to resolve the issues, thereby “destroying” the problem.

Capacity Creator looks into the future, working in concert with Driver&Load to project every three-digit zip code where drivers and loads will be at any given time. “We now know at noon the day prior that there’s going to be a problem, so we can be proactive and find a solution before it happens. We can also see ahead to find extra capacity wherever we may need it,” Kobeski said.

“We’re coming into a phase where supply and demand are flip-flopping, where demand is going to be greater than the supply of trucks. The Seek&Destroy and Capacity Creator capabilities of the Drop&Swap module make finding solutions to covering freight on time much easier and quicker. It’s a hundred times better than what we had to do in the past.”