Company: Pilot Air Freight, Lima, Pa
Operation: Full-service transportation and logistics operation that delivers freight worldwide through 65 offices in North America and a network of overseas agents
Gene Malcolm, senior vp-information systems
Problem: The extremely competitive arena of cargo delivery in the U.S. is forcing growing carriers to offer better delivery performance, including enhanced shipment tracking.
Shipment tracking is especially important to Pilot Air Freight, a 24-hour, 7-day operation that delivers freight through company and franchised locations in North America and worldwide. From 65 facilities in the U.S., the firm provides businesses with same-day, next-day, and deferred-delivery services both locally and globally.
Although Pilot has enjoyed rapid sales growth over the past 10 years, management recognized that automation of shipment tracking should be a priority for capturing additional freight market share here and around the world.
Solution: To improve its shipment-tracking capabilities, Pilot Air Freight has developed and begun deploying a state-of-the-art automated "Shipping Verification" program.
The new system was designed with the assistance of Integrated Productivity Systems Inc., a North Wales, Pa.-based systems integrator.
At this point, Pilot has introduced the Shipping Verification program at its Philadelphia and Los Angeles locations to help track cross-docking freight.
However, as it gains experience, the carrier plans to roll the program out to the 65 markets it serves in the U.S. The system is designed so that freight handlers scan the bar codes on freight bills when packages are picked up at airports.
The codes are scanned again as freight is sorted and loaded onto local delivery trucks to reach their final destinations. Thus, the program enables Pilot to verify that all freight has been accounted for and is bound for the correct delivery point.
Scanning is done with Beamer Micro-LaserWand hand-held computers supplied by Hand Held Products of Charlotte, N.C.
Pilot is implementing the new program in three distinct phases to make it easier to integrate with its other systems.
Phase I, now under way, deployed the program at the carrier's Philly and LA terminals and will continue to introduce it to several other locations each month until all 65 U.S. locations are covered by the program.
Phase II, which has already been successfully tested, will put the Beamer bar-code scanners into the hands of Pilot drivers to enhance the tracking and tracing of freight.
Phase III will incorporate cost-effective wireless data communications between drivers and dispatchers into the program.
Implementing the third phase will allow drivers to quickly transmit up-to-the-minute delivery information, instead of having to phone dispatchers to verify completed deliveries.