Dashboard for the desktop

Ontario-based Kriska Holding, Ltd. (d.b.a. Kriska Transportation) hauls food, consumer products, packaging and paper in eastern Canada and the U.S. with 325 power units, 850 dry vans and 51 temperature-controlled units. Their average trip is 410 miles. There is nothing average about the company itself, however. Kriska has garnered numerous awards, including awards for safety and employee recruiting

Ontario-based Kriska Holding, Ltd. (d.b.a. Kriska Transportation) hauls food, consumer products, packaging and paper in eastern Canada and the U.S. with 325 power units, 850 dry vans and 51 temperature-controlled units. Their average trip is 410 miles.

There is nothing average about the company itself, however. Kriska has garnered numerous awards, including awards for safety and employee recruiting and retention. Most recently, it was honored again as one of Canada's 50 best-run companies. “Our shippers consider us to be first in class,” observes general manager Paul Dean.

One of the secrets to Kriska's success, according to Dean, has been the implementation of a business dashboard, designed to help the company manage its operations minute-by-minute, day-by-day.

“The whole program is relatively new,” Dean explains, “so for now we are focusing on our most critical metrics, including total miles, loaded miles, empty miles, empty mile percentage, number of idle trucks, revenue per mile, miles per tractor and daily revenue. I can leave my computer on and actually watch things change — watch the miles going up, watch the empty miles accumulate, for instance.”

Selecting a dashboard system was not something Kriska did overnight. “We looked at a variety of dashboard options over the past few years, but worried about how well they would integrate with our TMW fleet management system, so we decided to wait for their ‘ResultsNow,’ application” Dean explains. “Data from that system and from our satellite tracking systems constantly update the dashboard, which is why the information it displays is so valuable to our business.

“I don't have to request a particular report anymore,” he says. “All the data is there on my computer instantaneously…and it is all in real time. The system's monitoring tool, which they call ‘The Dawg,’ also tells me right away if something is out of the acceptable range so I can get it fixed, often before the trip is even started.

The Dawg can help spot small oversights as well as larger problems, according to Dean. “If a customer gives us a load without an agreed-upon rate, for example, the watchdog function will pop up a message advising us to make sure we get a rate quoted and get it confirmed,” he says. “Typically, it is just a simple matter of reconfirming an agreed-upon rate with the customer, but it helps us avoid misunderstandings or disputes after the fact.

“The watchdog function helps us keep our records accurate, as well. For instance, suppose a dispatcher accidentally enters a wrong customer code that shows a truck in a Chicago suburb going to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (about 800 miles away) instead of across town to his actual next stop,” Dean says. “Those 800 extra miles would throw all our reporting off — fuel taxes, sales tax — as well as skew our revenue-per-mile figures and other metrics. The watchdog, however, alerts us when there are certain discrepancies, such as between the tracking data and the entered trip data, so that we can clean up errors immediately.”

Beyond day-to-day chores, the dashboard also helps them make strategic decisions. “We can identify our weakest customers revenue-wise, which helps us make informed decisions, such as whether we should attempt to grow their business or replace that customer as opportunities become available. It also enables us to deal with individual customers lane by lane,” Dean adds.

While the dashboard largely began as a tool for Kriska executives, the company plans to open it up so that everyone can see what is going on as it is happening, according to Dean. “Our hope is that giving people more information about the company's performance will encourage them to challenge themselves,” he says.

“It is easy to sit in the boardroom and talk about performance,” Dean continues. “The question is, how do we get that information to the planners, dispatchers, drivers and others who make it all happen? We need to make sure they see the results of their efforts — good and bad.”

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