J.P. Noonan
J.P. Noonan, the largest petroleum hauler in New England, is rolling out a new process automation platform.

Beyond TMS: J.P. Noonan tabs BeyondTrucks to optimize operations

May 5, 2023
The California-based SaaS startup's process automation technology streamlines trucking tasks—including those most important to bulk carriers.

Like a lot of tank truck companies, J.P. Noonan Transportation runs a complex operation that involves diverse equipment, commodities, and services. So, as an innovative, third-generation family business, the carrier always is on the hunt for technology that makes the job easier, employees more efficient—and, importantly, better serves customers.

Mark Cicchini, Jr., J.P. Noonan’s head of special projects, insists the West Bridgewater, Massachusetts-based bulk hauler located what it was looking for in Samsara’s video-based safety and vehicle telematics systems, but couldn’t find a comparable, cloud-based transportation management system, despite “years” of searching.

Then Cicchini discovered BeyondTrucks while browsing online—and a light bulb went off. 

“We were searching for the Samsara of dispatching,” he said. “Samsara is a great, cloud-based, third-party platform where you don’t have to worry about anything. You go onto a website and it’s all there for you.

“That’s what we wanted in a TMS program.”

BeyondTrucks, founded in 2019 in San Mateo, California by CEO Hans Galland and COO Paul Xie, is a comprehensive, software-as-a-service process automation platform. Galland, whose great grandfather founded a beverage distribution company in Switzerland, previously started three businesses in Asia, and built a private-equity fund in the U.S. to $2 billion under management. Xie, who holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and an MBA from Harvard, previously co-founded Lightelligence, which builds optical microchips.

They came together to create a single-platform technology for trucking companies, which Galland asserts historically have been underserved by “digital-filing-cabinet” systems that don’t truly help them harness their data to run their businesses more efficiently. “The data that’s available as a result of digitization never has been leveraged for the carrier’s benefit,” he said. “So that was the founding principle.”

BeyondTrucks’ “mini-ERP” handles every trucking task, from dispatching and payroll to tax payments, and even lines of credit, by residing in the workflow and “digitally digesting” data from multiple systems. “By running your business not with technology but in technology, you can be more efficient,” Galland said. The platform also addresses many tank trucker concerns, like tank monitoring—J.P. Noonan serves “hundreds” of gas stations as New England’s largest petroleum hauler—succession planning, and cybersecurity.

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“In many cases, traditional transportation management systems have become a hurdle that keeps trucking companies from moving forward,” Galland said. “We’re replacing them because we feel they’re beyond rescue.

“We need to help trucking companies develop seamless workflows and data.”

Tank truck-tailored

Cicchini’s grandfather, John Peter Noonan, founded J.P. Noonan in 1959 as an ice and heating oil delivery business. Today, the carrier runs 350 trucks from eight Northeast locations, delivering gasoline and diesel, as well as jet fuel, propane, liquid asphalt, wastewater, cement, plastic pellets, and more, with a 500-trailer fleet. Services include tank-level monitoring and inventory control, which currently entails logging into multiple systems to collect data, and then calculating how much fuel to route to each station.

“With Beyond Trucks, we’ll be able to upgrade our current dispatch platform by combining it with the latest technology and innovation, which will streamline our process and make our dispatch team more efficient,” Cicchini said.

BeyondTrucks also makes operating systems more inaccessible to cybercriminals.

J.P. Noonan—which is aiming for full implementation this fall—shifted its servers off-site in 2021 to better protect sensitive systems from ransomware attacks that have plagued transportation operations. But the carrier’s current cloud computing platform still requires it to handle the upkeep—a “headache” the company doesn’t need, Cicchini said. “A huge deciding factor for us was beyond trucks is SaaS-based, which eliminates the time and money to host, manage, and secure a traditional TMS program,” he asserted.

BeyondTrucks’ cloud platform distributes customers’ highly encrypted data across many physical locations. It’s also certified as SOC 2 compliant by the American Institute of CPAs, which sets the highest standard for information security. “SOC 2 is as good as it gets in cybersecurity—and we’ve yet to find another platform that has it.”

Automation is particularly powerful for complex businesses, Galland added.

J.P. Noonan plans to use BeyondTrucks to log all of its equipment, including trailer models, compartment sizes, and accessories, like pumps and blowers, along with all of the commodities it delivers, enabling automated load matching. “Our goal is to take the guesswork out of the equation and have everything noted and visible in the system.” Exporting “tribal knowledge” also allows older generations to comfortably retire, confident in the company’s sustainability, and their ability to monitor activities from afar.

That is of particular interest to J.P. Noonan, whose 83-year-old founder remains president, but is starting to step away, leaving eight second- and third-generation family members to run the company. “Most tank truck businesses are operationally complex, and what we often find is that the only person who truly knows how to optimize the business is one ‘supercomputer’—and that’s the owner,” Galland said.

“That’s another reason we think this technology is phenomenal for the tank truck segment.”

Express-tested

The private-equity backed tech company established its own carrier, La Grange Express, to test the platform. The 25-truck fleet operated in Columbus, Ohio, for six months in 2021 and 2022, and actually turned a profit before it was disbanded, helping BeyondTrucks prove out its belief that “Uber”-style software could enhance fleet efficiency. “It’s not common for technology companies to do that,” Galland pointed out.

System setup involves custom fitting, program engineering, and guided implementation. The entire process takes from 2-3 days for small fleets, to many months for larger fleets, with BeyondTrucks team members spending time in the operation to understand its workflow, then tailoring software “like a fine suit.” “They have a team of engineers, and during the onboarding phase, Natasha Martinez [head of carrier success] and Paul Xie spent several days with dispatchers, and other members of our team, to get a hands-on view of how we operate now, and how we’re going to do it better on our new platform,” Cicchini said.

By meeting customers “where they are,” instead of selling “prescriptive” software that dictates processes, BeyondTrucks makes implementation easier, which increases adoption, Galland argued. The company currently serves 50 fleets, including 12 tank truck carriers. Fleet acceptance is further boosted by the subscription-based service’s ease-of-use, low upfront cost, free upgrades—and verifiable return on investment.

Mid-sized fleets typically save $12,000-$15,000 per driver per year by identifying and eliminating “hidden” expenses, including data-entry errors that inflame “customer churn” and the capital required to “finance operational inefficiency,” Galland said. “We easily generate a 12-20x ROI on our fees with the customer,” he said.

Cicchini is one customer who already believes in BeyondTruck’s value—which he says only will compound in coming years.

“I’m excited to see what the future brings,” he said.

“The company is new, but I think they can gain a lot of traction on this side of the trucking business. They already have good traction on the freight side, but if they can really figure out what we do—and all the different commodities and products we handle on a daily basis—they’ll be able to capture a large segment of this industry.”

About the Author

Jason McDaniel

Jason McDaniel, based in the Houston TX area, has nearly 20 years of experience as a journalist. He spent 15 writing and editing for daily newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, and began covering the commercial vehicle industry in 2018. He was named editor of Bulk Transporter and Refrigerated Transporter magazines in July 2020.

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