By Mark S. Kuhar
The dispatch office is the heart of every materials supplier. Their job is fast-paced, involves long hours, and several phone calls throughout the entire day trying to make on-time deliveries and maintaining high levels of production. Figuring out complex scheduling, working long hours, dealing with demanding clients – it’s a tough job. Not just anybody can do it.
Each customer call can either make or break a dispatcher’s schedule. In under two minutes while on the phone with customers, the dispatcher must assign the job to a driver and make the decision if the order can even be delivered when the customer wants it, and if not, when it can be delivered.
When problems arise and jobs have to be changed, it adds even more stress to the dispatcher’s day, and even more complexities can arise when dealing with third-party carriers. These everyday heroes rarely ever receive all the recognitions they deserve.
One leading aggregate supplier in Texas understands how the more distressing parts of a dispatcher’s job can be emotionally and mentally taxing for its employees, so they make it a priority to arm dispatchers with what is needed to perform their duties effectively and efficiently.
Keeping Up with Multiple Drivers
It’s fair to say that no matter what you do, most of our workdays can be unpredictable. For someone who works in the logistics world, the level of unpredictability can be greatly heightened. Things happen each day that throw off scheduling and leave dispatchers with additional work pressure and unnecessary frustration. In today’s economy, there’s no room for outdated, inefficient manual and paper-based processes, which just exacerbate these frustrations.
Paper tickets are old fashioned, yet so many materials transportation operations still use them because it’s a system that teams are comfortable managing. Rather than sticking to the status quo, this particular operation in Texas wanted to update its operations with electronic solutions to eliminate the bottlenecks that these outdated pen and paper methods create.
The company has experienced exponential growth, and they wanted to adopt new solutions to empower their team to stay efficient and optimize their internal and third-party logistics processes.
A major heartburn that one of their dispatchers experienced is the challenge associated with carriers confirming loads. The dispatcher would have to continuously follow up with his carriers through emails and phone calls to make sure his orders were accounted for, and he also spent most of his time conducting double data entry.
Anyone who works in dispatch knows that the job is extremely demanding and time-consuming. The ability to automate work and remove manual data re-entry could significantly improve daily operations.
Ruckit, Command Alkon’s trucking management and performance system, was purpose-built to help do just that – not to mention, the solution has a deep integration with their existing ticketing and dispatch system, meaning this aggregate producer could collaborate with their third-party haulers through their on-prem and cloud-based tools.
“Ruckit came with the flexibility that we needed to make it our own,” said the transportation manager at the facility. “The ability to deeply integrate it with our existing Apex solution made it a win-win for everyone.”
The dispatcher can create all orders in Apex and assign them to a third-party driver in Ruckit, then the driver will see the order on their mobile device and can either accept or decline the order, eliminating all the phone calls back and forth.
Once the driver accepts the order, or the dispatcher assigns the order, that information is available in their Apex ticketing system. Drivers can access this ticket via their mobile device, and they do not have to spend time uploading quantities or other information into Ruckit.
The integration with Ruckit and Apex provides flexibility to tailor the solution to their needs. They were able to set up functionality that enabled them to auto dispatch by saving the order under the carrier in Apex and dispatching from that system alone, rather than having to dispatch from both Apex and Ruckit. “The ability to auto dispatch from Apex saves me three hours of double date entry a day,” said the dispatcher.
Cut Back on the Chit Chat
The dispatcher is moving on average 40 to 60 loads a day. That is a lot to manage logistically – a lot of trucks, tickets, and pickups. Those significant time savings have enabled him to focus on what’s most important – getting material out the door and to the customer.
“We’ve seen improvements in many areas of our business, including efficiency, visibility, and safety,” said the transportation manager. “Being able to interact with drivers – whether it be maps or direct messages – it’s removed the need for them to constantly be on the phone so that they can focus on driving.”
Now that the dispatcher has visibility into which drivers are responsible for which loads and where they are, that cuts down phone and email chatter with both drivers and customers.
Being able to see where orders are at all times means that schedulers can log into Ruckit; if a truck is running late, they can send an updated email to the customer to let them know. In the past, the schedulers would wake up the carrier and the dispatcher to ask where the truck was.
“Just overnight, Ruckit has cut 97% of my calls, and I get better sleep each night,” said the dispatcher. As a testament to the time that they have spent with Apex and Ruckit, the aggregate producer is sold out for the first time ever.
A Champion for Change
The dispatcher admits that before the implementation, he was a bit skeptical. Adopting new technologies and processes isn’t the easiest thing for anyone to do.
Oftentimes, technology adoption fails because someone isn’t leading the charge to ensure the implementation is successful. Despite his skepticism, the dispatcher has been that change agent that has been the driving force behind the success that the operation has had with Ruckit and Apex so far.
“When we first implemented Ruckit and integrated it with Apex, I was worried that it was just going to make me take extra steps to get the job done,” said the Dispatcher. “It has actually eliminated a bunch of extra steps – from calling people, to dispatching their loads, to changing their loads – it’s all easy through Apex and Ruckit.”
The company is just getting started. Over time, as Ruckit is utilized for a longer period, they will have more visibility into meaningful information, such as the variances between hauler freight and what they are charging their customers, insurance reporting, and more.
As they infuse more functionality and reporting into their dispatch operations, Command Alkon will be there to help them to adapt and use the integration to continue to optimize their operations.
Information for this article courtesy of Command Alkon.