fleets online

April 1, 2005
COMPANY: Perkins Specialized Transportation OPERATION: Truckload carrierTom Mulcahy, director of IS Problem: With 350 owner-operators in its fleet, Perkins Specialized provides expedited, multi-stop service to a core customer base, delivering office furniture, store fixtures, show displays and other freight throughout the country. Now in the middle of a long-term aggressive growth plan intended to

COMPANY:

Perkins Specialized Transportation

OPERATION:

Truckload carrier
Tom Mulcahy, director of IS

Problem:

With 350 owner-operators in its fleet, Perkins Specialized provides expedited, multi-stop service to a core customer base, delivering office furniture, store fixtures, show displays and other freight throughout the country.

Now in the middle of a long-term aggressive growth plan intended to double the size of the fleet, Perkins recognizes that it has to re-examine all of its systems and operations as part of that transformation. Central to that growth plan is “doing more with less” and outsourcing functions that are outside the fleet's core competencies, says Tom Mulcahy, director of IS.

Reimbursing drivers for tolls was proving to be a time-consuming, tedious process, says Mulcahy. “We had to wait for receipts and check against logs, which not only took an enormous amount of time, but also didn't capture all the tolls paid by drivers.”

Solution:

One of the functions outsourced by Perkins was calculating and paying fuel taxes. The company performing the service, InterTax, also provided the fleet with operational reports that included estimates of toll payments calculated by software from ALK Technologies, the developer of routing and fleet management applications.

While the reports offered the potential to automate the process, they were historical, lagging actual trips by six weeks. Simplifying the toll process would require predictive rather than historical data.

Perkins has been a long-time user of ALK's PC Miler software, integrating it with their TMW Systems dispatch system to provide customers with mileage estimates, so it decided to add the toll module to its own system.

“Now when we tender a load, we can anticipate actual toll charges when we calculate the route for the customer,” says Mulcahy. “We then automatically reimburse the owner operators.”

Perkins had estimated that its manual toll system was only reimbursing drivers for about 75% of the charges incurred, but the software showed that actually they'd only been able to capture about half of the toll charges. While the new automated system has doubled the fleet's toll payments, Perkins sees that as a positive driver retention move.

“We're putting more toll money into the pockets of our drivers,” says Mulcahy.

Just as important as pleasing drivers, the toll system “cuts out manual calculation, matching toll receipts to routes, checking logs and all that other tedious work,” says Mulcahy.

“We've got a lot of smart people working here”, says Mulcahy. “This lets the software do the tedious stuff, and they're free to do things that are more central to our core business.”

While it's hard to put a dollar figure on driver retention value, Mulcahy says, “In labor savings and accuracy alone, [the toll module] has already paid toll for itself.”

About the Author

Jim Mele

Nationally recognized journalist, author and editor, Jim Mele joined Fleet Owner in 1986 with over a dozen years’ experience covering transportation as a newspaper reporter and magazine staff writer. Fleet Owner Magazine has won over 45 national editorial awards since his appointment as editor-in-chief in 1999.

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