Consumers expect fresh, quality food when they visit their favorite stores and restaurants. That’s why grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants and food service facilities often invest a great deal of money and resources in their stores, kitchens and distribution centers to ensure quality and freshness.
Suppliers and distributors should demonstrate their commitment to providing transportation that delivers food quickly, safely and efficiently so it maintains as high quality and freshness as possible. And yet, how do those suppliers and distributors hold their transportation costs down in these difficult economic times? How do they respond effectively when there is a recall on certain food products already in transit without costly mass disruptions to the supply chain?
Full-service leasing providers offer trucking fleets and food distributors various solutions not only through the trucks and trailers they lease, but also fleet management solutions that give them the ability to track shipments on the road in real-time. And with full service leasing, fleet management solutions can be made very affordable since they are built into the lease payment.
But not all fleet management solutions can offer the degree of transparency and traceability grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants and food service facilities want in their supply chains. There are several attributes and functions fleets and distributors should look for in a fleet management solution.
First, does the fleet management solution offer over-the-air programming so that upgrades don’t require fleets to take their vehicles off the road to update the system? Does it offer an onboard computing and mobile communications system that provides reliable, bandwidth-rich coverage? Is it built for wireless performance? It should. The solution should be compatible with a wide variety of back-end systems. It should also offer the versatility to add different tools to monitor vehicle and driver performance or offer drivers in-cab navigation assistance, depending on the specific needs of fleets and their customers.
For example, Bellevue, WA-based PacLease offers PacTrac, a scalable telematics solution powered by Minneapolis-based PeopleNet, that doesn’t suffer from the transmission latency or dead zones typical on single mode networks and bandwidth-constrained satellite communications networks. The over-the-air programmable solution provides GPS-based tracking, onboard voice and data communications and Internet-based business systems integration. This allows fleets not only to communicate with drivers and know where they are, but also to provide useful information about their trucks and drivers.
Fleets and distributors should look for fleet management solutions that track vehicles in real-time so that their managers know where trucks are instantly. It should also monitor vehicle engines through their engine control module (ECM) and report results regularly so that managers can evaluate how drivers are performing in relation to fuel economy, vehicle speed, idle times and engine speed.
PacTrac offers that functionality in a tool called PerformX. It can help fleets and distributors get a firm handle on driver performance, which can greatly affect fuel and vehicle maintenance costs. With PacTrac, fleets can add onboard event recording, which gives them second-by-second recorded data that managers can use to monitor driver habits, alter behaviors, take corrective action and possibly prevent accidents.
An enhanced version of PacTrac features an application called PACOS, an automated messaging and geofencing platform. The system can be set at different thresholds depending on the route and the needs of the shipper or fleet. So, for example, managers can monitor drivers and know when they are out-of-route, delayed or stopped.