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As the crow flies

Coates Hire’s hi-tech Transport Management System rolls out to Newcastle.

When you have a fleet of 180 trucks, small productivity gains can add-up to significant returns.

That was the driving force behind the Coates Hire Transport Management System (TMS) when it was introduced a year ago in the major cities, and now the digital system is going regional as it is introduced to Newcastle.

The TMS centralises the transport logistics task of several branches by using powerful technologies: ‘Route Planner’, which is used to manage the Coates Hire trucks; ‘Mobile Link’, which sends orders and information to the drivers’ smartphones; and ‘Transport Manager’, which links with external transport partners’ dispatch systems via a data connection.

Drivers ‘swipe’ on their phone when they arrive on site, when they’ve loaded/unloaded, and when they’re leaving. In this way the trucks are visible to the transport allocators, who can make the best dispatch decisions for Coates Hire’s trucks.

“When using the TMS, transport allocators can see the best usage for our own trucks,” says Adam Welch, Group Manager - Transport Logistics. “We want the Coates Hire trucks to be better utilised.”

The TMS system allows the allocators to eliminate both over- and under-utilisation: without a TMS, Coates Hire trucks could be passing one another - one empty, one full - and travelling on the same route. With centralised transport-management, one truck can do the work that was often done by two.

Under-utilisation is also being addressed: with TMS the allocators can see all the branches in the system and focus the Coates Hire fleet on appropriate routes.

The TMS has been operating from Customer Service Centres in the large metro areas - Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth - where the truck-utilisation rates are steadily improving.
“In some areas our utilisation rates have risen from an average 2.5 movements per truck, per day, to six or more jobs per day.”

Welch says that while utilisation rates were the primary focus of the TMS rollout, other benefits have included more efficient routes and a better view of availability, allowing the allocators to schedule deliveries and pick-ups with better certainty - the ‘DIFOT’ measurement, or ‘delivered in full and on time’.

The next phase of the TMS, leading into Christmas, is the deployment of TMS in regional Australia, with Newcastle the first implementation.

Welch says six branches will feed into the Newcastle TMS, and it will be the first time it is implemented without the support of a Customer Support Centre team.

“We’ve ironed out the bugs in the metro areas, and we’re confident we can run the TMS with a couple of experienced transport allocators,” says Welch. “It means a better utilisation of Coates Hire fleet, and our customers get a better service.”

Adam Welch says that when Newcastle is bedded-down, the regional TMS model will be introduced to Coates Hire’s branches across Australia. And he says the use of technology has just started: the next evolution of the TMS will see telemetry transmitters built into each Coates Hire vehicle, allowing for a fully-automated Transport Management System.

“We’re making this first stage work,” says Welch. “First we learn how to walk - then we think about running.”

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