Clear route

COMPANY: FFE Transportation Services Inc., a business unit of Frozen Food Express Industries Inc.

OPERATION: Temperature-controlled truckload and less-than-truckload carriage focusing on the transportation of temperature-sensitive cargo and perishable goods

Problem: FFE Transportation Services Inc. operates about 1,750 power units and 2,500 trailers. The fleet has always been concerned with safety and customer service and it shows. Most recently, the company was honored in March of this year with a third-place TCA safety award for fleets over 100 million mi., and in 2011 by the Texas Motor Transportation Assn. with the Grand Trophy for fleet safety.

Still, in 2010 and 2011, FFE made the decision to implement additional new technologies to improve performance in both safety and customer service. “We wanted to cut down on accidents and so-called ‘phantom miles’,” says Andy Oleson, director of strategic planning for the company.

“To accomplish that, we wanted to be able to give our drivers routes and to monitor whether or not they stayed on those routes,” he notes. “Lots of accidents happen when drivers feel confused and nervous [about where they are going].”

The company also wanted to make the switch from paper logs to electronic logs to reduce hours of service issues and the potential for CSA logbook violations. If the fleet could also reduce fuel costs in the bargain, it would be a big plus.

Solution: To address its safety goals, FFE implemented the navigation solution from Telogis. Beginning with a small beta test group, the firm eventually rolled out Telogis Navigation (formerly called NaviGo) to the entire fleet, a process that took about six to eight months. According to Oleson, the results have been very positive.

“We have seen a decrease in accidents and in fuel spend,” he says. “Now we have visibility to where the trucks are. We can use geofencing to get in/out notifications and the system enables us to route drivers around certain roads, as necessary.”

The system proved itself during this year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans, Oleson says. The company was able to get trucks in and out of the French Quarter, delivering freight before the big Sunday game using the system’s ability to create a special plan. “We had all on-time deliveries and no incidents,” he notes.

During Super Storm Sandy, FFE was able to redirect drivers away from the most damaged roads. The navigation system also enabled the fleet to capture input from drivers and share it with others in the area.

“The biggest thing we wanted to see was an improvement in safety, and we got that,” Oleson says. The improvement is reflected in the company’s CSA score, too. “Even our customers are looking at CSA scores,” he notes, “and so are drivers. Drivers want to work for fleets with good CSA scores; they want to work for us.” Customers are also enjoying the benefits of another new technology FFE deployed a couple of years ago—StarTrak, which was implemented to help meet cold chain of custody requirements.

“StarTrak allows us to remotely adjust and monitor trailer temperature from precool to unloading,” says Oleson. “It is a really neat technology. Our dedicated fleet used it for quite some time because a customer required it. Now we use it on all our trailers.

“A whole team of people monitor temperature readings 24/7—and our customers love to hear about it. It gives them peace of mind,” he adds. The system also helps FFE reduce cargo claims and save on fuel.

“With every project we’ve undertaken there has always been some initial fear of change,” Oleson recalls, “but you just have to do it. It is absolutely necessary.

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