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COMPANY: Fast Trac TransportationHouston, TXJeff Steele, terminal manager OPERATION: Air freight cartage and industrial equipment hauling company operating in Texas and Ohio.

COMPANY:

Fast Trac Transportation
Houston, TX
Jeff Steele, terminal manager

OPERATION:

Air freight cartage and industrial equipment hauling company operating in Texas and Ohio.

Problem:

Jeff Steele, Fast Trac's terminal manager, was confronted with a problem that's pretty common in the trucking business. He needs to locate drivers scattered across the country, determine who's closest to which customer, and provide pickup and delivery orders to those drivers, as well as directions.

“We tried using handheld cellular phones, but without GPS [global positioning satellite] signal capability, we couldn't find out where our drivers were,” Steele explained. “We also found [that] with standard terrestrial cellular we had communication gaps and in some cases lost communication with our drivers entirely.” Not a good thing when you're trying to route them to a customer desperate to get a load on the road.

Solution:

Fast Trac decided to look at whether Argo Tracking's new location and communication system could solve those issues in one fell swoop. It outfitted a handful of trucks with Argo's device right in the dashboard. The $600 to $700 unit, which has a $36/mo. communications fee, took about 10 to 15 minutes to install. That allowed Fast Trac to “ping” its trucks in set intervals — 5 seconds, 10 minutes, whatever it wanted — as well as plot where those trucks were in relation to customer locations so that only the closest drivers would be routed for pickups, thus boosting vehicle productivity.

“That automatic location capability allowed us to make critical routing decisions without calling anybody…without interrupting the driver's work except to give them an assignment,” Steele said. “Our dispatchers loved it even more because it removed a whole step out of their work pattern. Instead of calling four drivers and debating who to give the load to, they can just pick one based on proximity.”

Best of all, Fast Trac didn't have to invest in any pricey software. Since Argo uses a web-based system, dispatchers needed only a web browser on their PCs to access the tracking maps.

However, Steele pointed out that the drivers weren't exactly happy about the Argo system since it tracked their every move via satellite. “Most resented it at first,” he said. “But that changed quickly, once they figured out dispatch could use the Argo system to help navigate them to pickup and delivery addresses. Within 10 to 15 days of installation, they started calling dispatch for help. We didn't foresee that at all.”

According to Steele, one of the best things about the system is that he can expand the number of trucks equipped with Argo without major disruptions to his fleet's operating schedule. In addition, he can get it customized to spit out data exactly the way he wants it, making it very user friendly. “It's a really useful technology for our fleet,” he said.

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