Fleets online: Priority message

Company: Priority Dispatch

Operation: Cincinnati, OH-based regional courier operation delivering 250,000 packages a month in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Pennsylvania

Problem: A 24/7/365 courier operation, Priority Dispatch relies on constant, real-time communications with its approximately 700 drivers to ensure timely, accurate delivery of goods.

In the past, the company had utilized the Sprint Nextel push-to-talk network for that communication, says John Pohlman, network manager. But with the upcoming shutdown of that iDEN (2G) network next year (Sprint is replacing it with a 3G CDMA network), the time was right to look at new options.

“We have drivers who are all over the place,” Pohlman says. “Most of our drivers are independent contractors, but we need to talk to them and we need proof of delivery.”

Cell phone service and texting are options, but Pohlman says the company needed something quicker. “Cell phones can be used, but one thing about a cell phone is you cannot get the information through as efficiently or quickly [as needed],” he says.

In a business where only about 10% of routes are set, flexibility and instant communication with drivers are critical, Pohlman points out. “Every minute counts,” he says.

Solution: For Priority, the solution was as easy as switching carriers. The company has migrated all of its drivers over to AT&T’s new Enhanced Push-to-Talk (PTT) application. About 100 drivers have chosen to install the solution on their own devices. Priority has supplied the remaining drivers with equipped Android devices.

“With [Enhanced] Push-to-Talk I can see if the driver is online or not,” says Pohlman. “I can talk to them very quickly.”

The AT&T solution is offering a number of other benefits that Pohlman says have made communications even quicker and easier for dispatchers. “One of the nice things with the AT&T solution that we didn’t have with Sprint Nextel is our dispatcher can contact 15 [or more] drivers at once. If three drivers need to speak to each other, the dispatcher can start a conference call with them and then bail out on the conversation, saving them time,” Pohlman explains.

He says that because the Enhanced PTT solution is compatible with 4G networks, as well as 3G and even 2G networks, it has resulted in significantly fewer dropped calls and quicker connection times. “Push-to-talk calls are data calls, so the speed of the network determines [the connection time],” he says. “We had times when the connection time could be up to 25 seconds when the calls crossed networks. We don’t have that problem with these.”

The company’s daily cell bill for voice and data runs about $1,500, Pohlman says, but that will likely go down a little once AT&T incorporates WiFi capabilities into the service, expected early next year.

AT&T says the application can be combined with other mobile applications, allowing users to leverage a range of AT&T business services in a single device. It also offers supervisory override and talk group scanning options, AT&T says, along with large contact lists and talk groups.

Priority’s drivers are using the Galaxy Rugby Pro device for the Enhanced PTT, to communicate with the back office on pickup and delivery, email, voice, and even to file payroll records, Pohlman notes. “We [also] have a number of signature capture devices out in the field that we will start migrating over to [other AT&T solutions],” Pohlman adds.


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