Unlike the Full truckload (TL) carriers, in less-than-truckload (LTL) operations prevail lots of multi-stop pickups. For small LTL carriers, linehaul can also include an end to end multi-stop deliveries. Good dispatch software help carriers to input orders and then dispatch them to drivers and trucks. They would also help to settle with drivers and bill clients. Some may have extensive assets (tractors, trailers, etc.) management systems. Advanced systems such as Trimble transportation (TMW) can offer tracking and mileage calculation option via their own solution such as PC miler. Others, especially those targeting SME’s will provide a plugin option to get data from PC miles or similar solutions. On top of the Dispatch system, companies should equip their trucks with ELDs (Geotab, Omnitracs, Samsara, etc.) which is a good tool to track mandatory Hours of Service (HOS). Almost all providers also offer telematics functional. This is basically a tech environment for a typical mid or large LTL carrier. Smaller ones may be using spreadsheets and, in the meantime, one of the GPS tracking software. As ELDs are mandatory both in the US and Canada, every carrier can track the location of their trucks.
As you have noticed there are a couple of functions that require extensive labor force and basically remained untacked so far:
- Multi-stop pickup planning. Large carriers such as YRC, Old Dominion, and others in the top 50 list have thousands of trucks and hundreds of terminals. Each terminal handles 500+ inbound orders a day. Smaller LTL carriers can have a handful of terminals but per terminal volumes are going to be relatively similar. While linehaul planning from terminal a can be relatively easy, the inbound multi-stop planning is where planners mostly straggle.
- Dynamic management and communication. ELDs give a decent understanding of the locations of your trucks. While this is fine in the case of FTL linehauls, multi-stop LTL management requires a more granular approach. First, dispatchers should know what’s happening in each stop and how changing dwell times or other random occasions will affect the accuracy of deliveries to remaining stops. Second, it’s crucial to have timely and automated warnings of potential late deliveries to each and every stop. Third, drivers should be instantly updated about changing loads and routes. And last but not the least, customers should receive automated notification about approaching drivers and drivers should be notified about available docs in case of large customers.
We have calculated that the solving abovementioned problems properly helps to decrease total driven mileage by 5-7% annually, save about 300 hours of planner’s time and improve delivery accuracy by a whopping 30%. Does this imply that one needs to search for new dispatch or TMS software? That’s not necessary as today’s API enabled environment helps to get these problems solved without undertaking large projects or inquiring additional costs.
You can reach us out on firstname.lastname@example.org in case want to learn more about how we can mobilize these benefits for you.
Vardan Markosyan is the CEO at Less® Platform
MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Ph.D. in Economics from the Institute of Economy of NAS RA
He spent decades of research and consultancy on business process optimization and system design