In order for a third-party logistics company (3PL) to compete in today’s market, it must provide start-to-finish visibility for its customers. Companies must also provide that visibility in a way that drivers and carriers are willing to accept, use and hopefully like.
Georgia-based Syfan Logistics learned first-hand that accomplishing those goals in tandem can feel like an impossible feat. The full-service 3PL specializes in perishables and expedited delivery, making accurate tracking even more important.
When the company first started testing tracking solutions, it became clear that carrier compliance and overall accuracy were both difficult to accomplish. This was especially true with tracking solutions that did not offer a mobile application for carriers.
“The app-less tracking solutions frequently reported that freight had been delivered when it actually hadn’t,” said Syfan Logistics’ IT Director Diana Bullington. “It left our logistics staff and carrier partners frustrated, and we were unable to provide accurate freight location information to our shippers, which was problematic.”
The company also had trouble getting drivers to use the app-less tracking solutions at all, according to a case study developed by Syfan’s current provider, Trucker Tools. The study attributed this to the fact that app-less solutions do not provide added value for the driver and are often seen as just another distraction.
In 2017, Syfan became an early adopter of Trucker Tools Smart Capacity platform, and its mobile driver app. After switching to the app-based solution, Bullington said the company experienced improved visibility and higher driver compliance.
“The Trucker Tools app helps us to be better for our customers,” Bullington said. “It feeds back into our transportation management system (TMS), so we have immediate visibility.”
Syfan has seen a 50 percent increase in tracking accuracy since introducing the app. The ability to provide real-time visibility data to shippers has strengthened Syfan’s relationship with its customers, but the app has also improved driver relationships and compliance. According to the case study, Syfan now sees peak time carrier compliance as high as 95 percent, with average tracking compliance coming in at 84 percent.
Bullington contributed this willingness on the part of their carriers to comply to the fact that the Trucker Tools app provides drivers with value outside of tracking. It provides drivers with information on load matching, re-loads, weather, rest stops, traffic, weigh scales, cheapest fuel prices, optimal routes and repair shops. The driver app also allows truckers to upload photos of bills of lading and signed delivery receipts, which ultimately helps carriers and owner-operators to get paid faster.
It does not hurt that the Trucker Tools app was developed with Syfan’s carrier base in mind – small carriers, typically 10 trucks or less, and owner-operators. The app is intended to deliver value that the smaller players may not have access to elsewhere.
“We rely on our mom-and-pop owner-operators, especially for our sensitive freight capacity, which is why we require a visibility solution that is both accurate and popular with small carriers and owner-operators,” Bullington said. “Trucker Tools has been able to deliver on both counts.”
For companies that are struggling to provide real-time tracking and get carriers onboard with new technologies, the answer may be as simple as downloading an app.