Company: Dana Transport Systems, West Deptford, N.J. Operation: Petroleum distribution; Michael E. Torrissi, general manager
Problem: Providing JIT delivery of gasoline, jet fuel lubricants and other petroleum products from refinery terminals to service stations and airports requires being able to quickly respond to customer demands. Pulling 9,200-gal. tank trailers, each of Dana Transport Systems' 90 tractors make four to six deliveries per shift.
"We get calls all day long to move up deliveries, push them back, or make emergency drops," says Mike Torrissi. "But once a driver left a terminal, our only contact was when they phoned their dispatcher. Customers couldn't understand why our dispatchers weren't able to give them more accurate delivery information. We needed some way to accurately track all of our trucks and to communicate quickly with drivers."
Solution: The obvious answer was an automatic vehicle location (AVL) system. Dana chose a fairly new system that does not use satellite or terrestrial packet data networks for wireless communications. Instead, ISR FleetTrack uses CDPD (cellular digital packet data), a relatively new technology that can operate over existing analog cellular telephone frequencies. Benefits of CDPD include fast data rates, real-time data communications and relatively low service costs.
The drawback to CDPD is that it isn't widely deployed yet and coverage is fairly limited. However, Dana's fleet operates in the Northeast, an area that happens to have the country's one well-developed CDPD network.
The ISR system combines automatic tracking with two-way messaging, which means Dana can now follow its vehicles throughout the day without any input from drivers, but still communicate with them if there's a delivery change. It also compares actual speed and location to planned routes, automatically notifying a dispatcher if a vehicle deviates from that route.
Dana began installing the ISR system in its tractors earlier this year and expects to have the entire fleet plugged in by the end of the summer. Although Dana's original interest in AVL was improving reaction time to delivery changes, in just the first few months of operation the fleet has already come up with new applications.
"For a few of our biggest customers, who may give us 40 or 50 loads a shift, drivers now punch in inventory information when they make a delivery," says Torrissi. "The system sends us that information, and we use it to e-mail the customer daily delivery reports."
The next enhancement planned is using the system to generate driver payrolls. "We also want to expand our territory further south and west and add trucks without enlarging our dispatch center," says Torrissi. "This system can help us do that."