SOAR Solutions Assists Trucking Company to Create Robust Operations Management Tool
A trucking company implemented SOAR Solutions software and data support services to collect, track and store their fleet and driver data. The collected information and reports are used to ensure compliance with government rules and regulations and find ways to operate their business more effectively and efficiently.
Who: Trucking Company
In 2006, the company was growing – increasing the amount of data being collected. Up to this point, the company was recording and collecting all vehicle and driver data manually and storing the paperwork in boxes. Whenever a record needed to be referenced or retrieved, it would take hours to find the specific document. The thought of going through all that detail manually was daunting. Not to mention that those piles of boxes contained a mountain of useful driver management, fleet management and fleet maintenance data including:
- Fuel usage,
- Trip summary information and driver hours of service,
- Driver information,
- Maintenance invoices, and
- Inspection reports.
Since the data was stored in hardcopy, there was not an easy way to create reports and compare data by vehicle, by driver or over time periods. Management decided to create a process so they could use all this collected data to their benefit by analyzing expense trends, driver safety compliance, and vehicle safety.
Adapting the compliance process for changes to rules and regulations
With the overhaul and standardization of Canadian federal driver hours of service going into effect, it was a perfect opportunity to find a way to review the trip, driver and vehicle data collected and create reports. Management thought if they could standardize their process in-house, they could make more informed decisions and operate their business more efficiently and effectively.
The company adjusted their forms to meet the new regulations and they began entering the driver and fleet data from the forms into a spreadsheet. The spreadsheets were formatted to capture the form information and to calculate some key metrics including: cost per mile and km, driver hours of service, specific maintenance costs and tracking repairs by type.
The monthly spreadsheets were linked to generate summary charts and reports that management could then analyze for trends across several months. The information transitioned their operations management style from a solely reactive decision-making process to running their business with a proactive approach.
Translating data into an operations tracking tool
The information was exciting. They could easily see what their trucks cost to run and that their drivers were in compliance. Decisions became based on real information that went above and beyond what their invoices and accounting showed. Management was able to allocate resources, use their equipment more effectively and even decide if parts or equipment should just be replaced. The information was extremely powerful, helping manage the business and lower costs.
The company continued to review Federal guidelines for reporting and document retention to ensure their procedures were in line with requirements. They continued to tweak their data entry and reporting process, turning the collected information into a valuable operations management tool.
Over time, the spreadsheets became cumbersome with more vehicles and drivers to track as well as several years worth of data. Management had also expanded the data they were tracking to include driver audits. This resulted in even more spreadsheets to capture the information.
Too much data, not enough time to manage spreadsheets
They were at a crossroads. Although the information was a crucial and powerful tool used to manage their business, their current approach to data collection and reporting was bulky, difficult to access, and prone to data entry and formula errors.
It began taking more time to manage the spreadsheets. The integrity and accuracy of the data needed to be checked and rechecked. Management saw the value in analyzing the information; however the company was outgrowing the system they had created four years earlier.
Partnership with SOAR Solutions turns data into a decision-making tool
Management needed a software solution that could handle their fleet management and driver log audit needs, was easy-to-use and, most importantly, could be customized to the company’s existing forms and processes. They evaluated building their own database or purchasing either an enterprise software program or a web-based software application.
SOAR Solutions provided data support and web-based operations management software that fit all of the company’s needs and were able to tailor the application to their existing process. They uploaded the existing spreadsheet data, integrated the forms already in use, and customized the web-based forms and reports.
SOAR Solutions went one step further by integrating the company’s safety management program, driver management, employee compliance, and preventative maintenance scheduling into the system. This turned the company’s processes into a comprehensive tracking and reporting tool for its entire operations.
The additional insight changed the way management approached decision-making. The end result was a software application that gave management expanded reporting functionality and anytime, anywhere access to their information.
Improves compliance rates
Management was armed with information about every aspect of its daily operations and, with the SOAR Solutions software they could easily and quickly reference facts and figures.
They also took advantage of the preventative functions in the SOAR Solutions software, which allowed managers to set-up and receive email alerts for a variety of events such as: maintenance due dates and renewal dates for permits, licences, certifications, training and safety.
Easy access and a clearer view of their information assisted in training and coaching drivers on paperwork procedures and accuracy. It also ensured that vehicles and equipment were routinely inspected by a mechanic and the paperwork was current.
Both drivers and management had a higher level of confidence when entering roadside and weigh scale inspections that the vehicles, equipment, and driver paperwork were in compliance. Additionally, the company experienced a higher percentage of passes at government inspection points.
Lowers operating costs
The SOAR Solutions software reporting functionality provided greater insight into their expenses and helped lower operating costs. Management analyzed and tracked information over a variety of time frames to better understand where savings opportunities and efficiencies existed. Some key areas of focus were to:
- Calculate the useful life of parts and equipment,
- Anticipate service requirements,
- Assess the impact of breakdown repair costs to their business, and
- Separate fixed costs from variable costs.
The largest savings resulted from isolating and comparing itemized costs based on brand, type, and vendor. As an example, the company’s tire usage was assessed to determine: how many tires were bought and replaced in a given period, average mileage life per tire by type and brand, and repair and maintenance by vendor.
Management was able to estimate annual purchase volume, maintenance and repair service hours and the best performing tire for their operations. They realized greater purchasing power and were better equipped in vendor contract negotiations.
SOAR Solutions converted the company’s data process into an effective decision-making tool that improves compliance and lowers operating costs.