Top Flite Express
Primarily JIT delivery of parts to major U.S. automakers
Scott Gardner, director of IT and consulting services
Top Flite Express delivers parts from suppliers to the major U.S. auto manufacturing facilities across the Midwest; expedites shipments nationally; and manages an average 165-170 routes and about 850 P&D's per day in the process.
In June of 2005, the company added a “very large new piece of automotive business” that required on-board driver communications and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) status updates.
“The U.S. auto industry depends on just-in-time (JIT) inventory management,” says Scott Gardner, director of IT and consulting services for Top Flite Express. “That means real-time communication of accurate shipment data, whether en route or at the dock, is considered essential. In the past, our drivers and owner-operators would call in status updates and someone else would enter the information into our system so that it was available to our customers when they required it. Starting in June, that wasn't enough. Our drivers had to be able to initiate real-time EDI-214 shipment status updates from each and every stop.”
Top Flite Express selected the mobile logistics and freight applications system from KonaWare, Mobile T&L Suite, integrated with MobiTrac's transportation execution system to get the job done.
“One of the advantages [of the] KonaWare system was that it is not tied to one cellular network or service,” says Gardner. “We know we'll be doing business in Canada and the entire U.S. in the future, so we really wanted that flexibility.
“When we compared installation costs, KonaWare also came out on top based on total functionality and cellular coverage versus the satellite cost of $3,250 per truck for installation fees and equipment,” he adds.
According to Gardner, implementation was quick and easy. “The entire implementation process was completed in less than 90 days, from signing the contract to full integration,” he notes. “Most of our drivers…took to the new system right away. In fact, most were trained and ready-to-go in less than 10 minutes, although we provided additional support if they needed it. Today, we have about 95% deployment and are looking forward to adding other functions, such as global positioning and geo-fencing.”
Now, instead of calling in status information, Top Flite drivers electronically send shipment details directly to the back-office system, which immediately and automatically sends an EDI-214 report to the customer. “This is real-time visibility to data that we didn't have before,” says Gardner. “Thanks to our new system, we've reduced our call volume by about 90%. With fewer calls coming in, dispatch can now focus on managing the exceptions that come up. We've also realized a 35% increase in our EDI-214 customer satisfaction scores and grown from managing 23 trucks to 150 trucks.
“With the new system, our drivers don't have to worry about continually contacting the home office to meet status update deadlines,” he notes.