In Plain Sight

Integrating routing and dispatch systems with onboard communications and computing systems boost visibility to provide valuable data driving powerful business decisions.


Leading communications and computing packages easily integrate with key routing systems. These packages typically provide driver-friendly touch screens that display to the driver a list of required activities for a particular route. Drivers can also interact with the onboard system to input information based on the parameters of their respective companies.

“Companies we work with typically have already chosen a routing and dispatch provider for their route planning needs. But without an onboard system like ours, you are only halfway there,” says Doug Frank, vice president of business development for Cadec Global Inc. in Manchester, NH. “The goal is to have companies go paperless so drivers don’t have to spend a lot of time keeping track of their daily activities on various pieces of paper.”

Cadec’s PowerVue transportation management software platform is an SaaS model built on service-oriented architecture (SOA). “This product offers a flexible platform allowing our routing and dispatch partners to consume the services they require from us via the Web and SOA technology,” says Frank.

One of the functions of PowerVue allows companies to feed information relative to how much time a driver spent at a particular location and why they might have spent more time than the original plan called for. “They can use that information to become much more efficient in their delivery process,” Frank says. The program also provides Hours of Service compliance information.

PeopleNet works with leading routing systems providers to integrate its onboard system. Most routing solutions provide a plan to optimize things like how a truck should be loaded and routed, in what order stock should be taken, how long each stop should take, how long between one stop and the next, and how many miles are between those stops, explains Randy Boyles, vice president of tailored solutions for the Minnetonka, MN-based company.

While a routing system creates a plan for the most efficient delivery of goods, that plan only describes what should be done—but it does not record what actually is done, explains Boyles. “What we do is feed that routing plan into PeopleNet so our system can report what actually happened throughout the route. For instance, it’s possible that some of the plan’s original assumptions were incorrect relative to the actual real-world experience, so you have the opportunity to fine-tune your plan to achieve higher efficiencies.”

Using its tailored workflow approach, PeopleNet can present the activities a driver must perform in a manner consistent with company-specific driver process.

Driver input into the onboard system—relative to activities performed or delays encountered – is transmitted to the routing system so comparisons can be made against the plan and actual activities. “The data can also be used to compare drivers against each other to identify the most efficient drivers in order to achieve fleet optimization that gets the most from your people and equipment,” explains Boyles.

Driver Focus

TZA’s software package, ProTrack Drivers, is designed to manage driver productivity, explains Andy Recard, director of labor management for the Long Grove, IL-based company. The solution interfaces with routing packages, onboard systems, and time and attendance systems. ProTrack synthesizes data from routing and onboard systems, giving transportation managers true, single-stop visibility relative to how their fleets and drivers are operating. “We can show drivers throughout the day how they are performing and how they are doing week-to-date,” says Recard. “We can also provide management with detail and summary-level reports about performance, utilization, cost to serve and issues in the field.”

TZA works with drivers and transportation management to define a standardized process for a route driver to deliver to customers. Then an engineered standard is developed through direct observation, while working with drivers en route as they deliver to customers, to determine the amount of time required to deliver, Recard explains. “Instead of using generic time-per-case or time-per-pallet at each stop, we can look very specifically at the order content and calculate a dynamic stop time. We send this information to the routing application so it can truly optimize the route.”

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