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Technology Holds Key to Increased Efficiencies

TORONTO, Ont. - Transportation and logistics companies must continue to adopt new technologies if they want to boost their efficiency.

TORONTO, Ont. – Transportation and logistics companies must continue to adopt new technologies if they want to boost their efficiency.

That was the main message delivered at a recent breakfast seminar hosted by Descartes Systems Group in collaboration with Telus Mobility in Toronto.

Presented as an example of the gains possible was a case study of an Ontario carrier looking to improve the efficiency of its dispatch system.

The carrier had 87 drivers communicating with dispatch via telephone, which left the dispatcher little time to thoughtfully plan routes or problem solve.

The challenge for Descartes was to find a single device for driver/dispatch data and voice communication.

“We implemented a Descartes-Telus Mobility Solution, and set up the drivers with a Motorola handset which allows real-time delivery status communication between the device and dispatch,” said Beth Enslow, senior vice-president of strategic development for Descartes Systems Group.

Using the new solution, 90 per cent of calls between dispatch and drivers were eliminated, allowing dispatch to squeeze more productivity out of the fleet and boost its own performance.

Over the last five years there have been important changes within the wireless world, said Enslow. Price points for new technologies have come down significantly, leading to significant market inroads by technologies such as global positioning satellite (GPS), radio frequency identification (RFID) and ubiquitous wireless networks.

At a recent seminar, over 75 per cent of attendees indicated they planned to use automatic vehicle location devices (AVL) within the next five to seven years, Enslow added.

AVL devices allow users to assign hot orders on the fly, which boosts productivity.

A side benefit for carriers is a customer can see where along the supply chain delays and problems lie, preventing the carrier from being blamed for delays that are beyond its control.

Trip data collection can be combined with AVL devices, automating the process and making the data available to management more promptly.

For local fleet markets, the projected AVL growth rate for 2004 is 20 per cent, 22 per cent for 2005 and 25 per cent for 2006, said Enslow.

Descartes has been working closely with the marine sector as marine carriers try to deal with the technology challenges posed by the new border security regulations.

Enslow expects to be working more closely with motor carriers over the next year as truckers also adjust to the new shipment pre-notification and electronic reporting requirements.

“We see lots of situations today where the government wants to know what you’re planning on doing, but also if you’re actually following that plan,” said Enslow.

New technologies are making it easier to meet those compliance regulations, she said.

Many shippers have already adopted RFID technology and the technology is beginning to penetrate the transportation industry, Enslow said, adding she expects this trend to continue to grow.

“It is something that will impact you or your business. If it has not already today, it will somewhere down the road, either directly or through a customer,” Enslow said.

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