Investment in new tracking technology has enabled a South Wales-based international transport and haulage operator to reduce the size of its trailer fleet and streamline operations.
TDW Distribution runs one of the largest palletised freight and distribution operations in the UK from its head office located five minutes from the M4 in Bridgend. The firm’s 90 strong fleet of commercial vehicles clock-up more than seven million miles a year delivering to customers in the food and beverages, manufacturing supplies and building products sector throughout the UK, Channel Islands and Europe.
The family run firm, which is a Palletline member, carries out nationwide deliveries for customers Tesco, building products suppliers Rockwool, and Seda Packaging among others.
Employing a skilled workforce that includes 110 drivers and currently turns over more than £18m, TDW used to have a 250-strong trailer fleet before it adopted tracking technology from transport management software specialists, Mandata.
The installation of the tracker devices, which are attached to the trailer headboards, has proved a beneficial investment, enabling the firm to cut the overall fleet by 10% over the last 12 months - down to 210 units.
An enhanced trailer tracking capability has become an invaluable part of TDW’s operations in a move that has seen dozens of devices connected to a web portal and tracking app, which operates via the Mandata TMS Transport Management System.
The technology has provided improved real-time visibility, enabling the fleet management team to see where trailers are at any given time, 24/7. This facility is ensuring that they are not lost, left standing idle for a number of days at customer premises or used as stand trailers, costing the firm money and draining resources.
Robert Williams, TDW’s managing director and son of Tommy Williams, who founded the firm back in in 1963, believes that it would be ‘extremely hard’ to manage today without Mandata’s tracking and driver behaviour technology.
“We would definitely find it difficult to work without it,” he says. “Although it’s difficult to fully quantify cost savings, the technology, which is excellent, easy-to-use and reliable, has been a welcome boon.
“The information provided in real-time enables us to source any empty trailers and locate units for inspection. In this way, we have been able to review our resources, and identify that we could reduce the whole fleet to run a leaner, smarter operation.
“In turn, this has seen a reduction of 10% in trailer numbers. Any savings that this provides is being ploughed back into the business to ensure customers continue to receive the highest level of service.”
Specifically developed for the road haulage and logistics sector, Mandata’s transport management systems bring together operational information into a single PC or cloud-based system that links to vehicle and driver smartphones out on the road.
The technology, which simplifies the planning of work, tracks operations and monitors driver behaviour and vehicle performance levels, automates critical processes. This removes time-consuming repetitive tasks, providing load and fleet visibility in real-time and alerting operators and drivers to any issues.
Improved trailer tracking is among the latest benefits TDW has seen from its investment in Mandata’s TMS. In use at the firm since 2004, the system has been consistently upgraded to deliver ongoing improvements, including integration across the pallet and hazardous chemical transportation operations to facilitate and streamline the transference of information between the two networks.
Electronic invoicing and document scanning features are also included as part of a comprehensive technology package that also enables PODs (proof of delivery) to be attached to an order along with the relevant invoice before being emailed to the customer.
Recent developments have included the introduction of a drag and drop traffic pad, linking delivery jobs and trucks. And in a further extension, tracking has been integrated with the traffic pad to provide enhanced job planning and monitoring capabilities.
“This has made routing easier and afforded our operators a high degree of visual heads-up regarding any potential problems,” adds Robert Williams. “They can see at a glance a driver’s current location while start times are visible, cutting out the need for unnecessary phone calls and, overall, speeding up the whole planning process.”
Augmented tracking and fleet behaviour capabilities are also enabling TDW to better capture critical vehicle and driver performance data. Analysis of this information is shared to raise awareness and understanding of operational issues, and monitor and improve driving standards.
On the back of this, a driver bonus scheme has been introduced in a successful move that rewards good behaviour and superior driving skills. Information about drivers, who are making an extra effort, is also captured and recorded.
The initiative is one of the reasons why Robert Williams believes the company, which employs more than 100 qualified drivers, is performing well when it comes to recruitment of drivers.
“More adept drivers mean our vehicles are being driven more effectively and responsibly, which in turn leads to an increase in vehicle diesel efficiency and a reduction in fuel usage,” Robert Williams adds. “You can see the increase in MPGs per vehicle which, when spun out across the fleet over several months, can add-up to substantial financial savings.”
The capacity to monitor revenue daily is also provided by Mandata, allowing the senior management team to track revenue also in real-time - an extremely useful feature that in turn aids financial planning and performance.
Having a single transport management solution in-house, with fully compatible features all supplied by the same company, makes the whole system easy-to-use and manage, says Robert Williams, who is currently overseeing the integration of a new Fleetway workshop management component.
Although it’s early days, this will make life a lot easier for the transport department, who will be able to see the status of vehicles at a glance and allocate vehicles to jobs based on vehicle availability using a system of coloured lights.
“This will enable us to identify any potential issues before they become real - and possibly costly – problems. It will also help to improve the safety and security of fleet operations, offering the assurances and peace-of-mind that customers are getting the services they need.”
There’s no doubt Mandata’s technology is proving a cost-effective investment at TDW, delivering wholesale benefits. And as the firm looks to the future and continuing expansion, there’s no doubt in Robert Williams’s mind that it will play an even bigger role in securing quality service levels and delivering cost effective, smarter fleet operations.