W&A Distribution Services Inc. Ft. Atkinson, WI
LTL carrier with warehouse service Steve Wiesmann, president
A privately owned company with 50 tractors, W&A Distribution moves LTL shipments that require specialized handling or must meet rigid delivery schedules.
Stainless steel equipment, furniture, lighting fixtures and other easily damaged or irregularly shaped freight offer a profitable niche for a carrier able to accommodate those special needs.
In addition, with businesses looking to outsource supply chain chores, the company identified warehousing and consolidating services as other potential growth areas and invested in large warehouse facilities to exploit that potential.
The fleet was using an old DOS-based management software system, which had become outdated, unstable, and cumbersome to maintain.
As it began evaluating various Windows-based systems, it realized growth in its specialized services would bring exponential growth in its data processing requirements. Automation and easy integration with customer systems would be the key to successfully handling that planned growth.
W&A finally chose TruckMate for Windows from Maddocks Systems since it offered specific LTL features, according to Steve Wiesmann. One of those key features was the system's Web services integration.
Incoming orders, especially orders from customers using the company's warehousing services, involve high volumes of data. Add inventory control and consolidation management for multiple delivery locations, and the job quickly outgrows the capability of physical paper orders.
“We have one customer that moved its entire manufacturing facility overseas,” says Wiesmann. “Now their total inventory comes into our warehouse. They were generating the orders and mailing them to us. We had to pull the orders from the warehouse and send out their loads.
“We knew we wanted to move to electronic documents, but the cost of EDI was just too high,” Wiesmann explains.
The Web services feature now allows customers to consolidate and transmit detailed orders in a standardized format that can then be used by many applications, including the new fleet management package. Orders flow seamlessly from the Web services to TruckMate's order preprocessor so freight bills, bills of lading, labels and other documents can be created automatically.
“It took a little while to iron out all the bugs, to make sure the customer's data was aligning with the right information fields, but both Maddocks and the customer worked with us to smooth them out,” say Wiesmann.
The new Web-based system has “dramatically improved our ability to expedite shipment requests,” he adds. “Over the long term, I expect the introduction of Web services to help us capture new business, reduce our labor costs and enhance the level of service we provide to all customers.”