O&S Trucking, Inc.
Refrigerated and dry van operation, primarily hauling food
O&S Trucking of Springfield, MO is unique in many ways. For starters, the company is employee-owned, which, as Rick Johnson, COO, will tell you, means “employees have a lot of freedom to try new things, develop new things and generally make dreams come true.”
When it comes to fleet management “O&S is extremely customer service-oriented, but we also like to take everything that is uncomfortable or difficult for the drivers and either provide it or handle it for them,” he notes. This can be a tall order to fill, so the company began developing and then refining their own software in the late 1980s and early 1990s to handle dispatch and “broker a few loads.”
In about 1998, however, they hit a turning point, Johnson recalls. “We were on a Unix mainframe computer at the time, but we wanted to refine our system and license our software to other fleets,” he says. “We knew small to medium-sized companies wouldn't be able to use a mainframe, so we decided it had to run on a personal computer instead.”
Today, about 116 other trucking companies also use the O&S “Show Me” software system on their PCs, and for good reason. “You can build a server for about $2,000, run 1,000 trucks with it and do it faster than on an AS400,” Johnson says, “and the Show Me system has some features we believe are unique. For example, fleets can establish a preferred list of customers, develop a database of who needs equipment, and then transmit messages to them two or three days ahead of when you'll have trucks in their areas.
“If a customer wants one or more of those vehicles committed to them, they can click on an icon and automatically send a request right to an inside sales person so that the truck won't be assigned to someone else,” Johnson explains.
“We haul mostly food at O&S, and holidays can cause a huge bulge in the line for some of our customers, who have to ship or receive five days of product in four days,” he illustrates. “This tool allows them to immediately react to changes. The system also knows what that capacity is worth, so customers can see the real cost before they commit.
“You can also click on an order number in the system and it will open up a map that will show you that truck, its latitude and longitude, the miles left to go and — based on the speed on that highway — how long it will take to get there,” Johnson adds.
For drivers, the O&S system also looks at the real cost of fuel ahead (as negotiated by the fleet) and offers three options for where to stop. “Sensor chips in the fuel tanks of our company trucks tell us how much diesel is available,” says Johnson, “so we know how far a driver can safely go before they need to refuel.”
According to Johnson, O&S hopes to make enough money licensing the software to enable them to keep improving and enhancing the system.