Fish haulers help develop Volvo’s Dynafleet

by James Menzies

GOTEBORG, Sweden – Fiskhamnens Akeri is a 15-truck operation in Sweden that knows the meaning of just-in-time delivery.

Specializing in hauling fresh fish and meat, the fleet can’t afford to be late since restaurants often demand their deliveries to be there just prior to dinner or lunch time.

“It’s very much just-in-time because everyone wants it before lunch,” said Owe Hellberg, the company’s owner.

Fiskhamnens Akeri makes 60-70,000 deliveries per year, including some Canadian fish that’s flown in to the local airport for delivery inland. Most of the fish is hauled to Stockholm, but other destinations take the carrier’s drivers as far north as Uppsala and everywhere in between. A 24-metre truck and trailer combination is loaded up with as much as 58 tonnes of fish per day.

Always looking for ways to improve his fleet’s efficiency, Hellberg has teamed up with Volvo to test the company’s Dynafleet program. It’s a transport management system that provides the fleet manager with the ability to monitor important information about each of his trucks in real-time. For instance, from his office in Goteborg, Hellberg can determine the location and speed of each of his trucks. He can also view the temperature inside the trailers, individual axle weights and the number of hours any of his drivers have been on-duty. He can also communicate with his drivers and direct them to pick-up and delivery points en route – all electronically, so the distraction is minimal.

“I don’t know how to work without it now because it’s easy to read and the drivers really like it,” said Hellberg when Truck News visited him at his Goteborg terminal. “The risk of forgetting an assignment is far smaller than before.”

The real-time communication system has allowed Fiskhamnens Akeri to slash its phone costs by 40 per cent, while reducing the amount of manpower needed to co-ordinate loads, said Hellberg. He estimates his company has saved US$37,000 per year since implementing the system.

“We recovered the cost of the investment (in Dynafleet) in one year,” Hellberg said.

Since drivers who use the Dynafleet system can be easily monitored at any given time, it also helps improve driver accountability.

“Driver management is a convenient way of keeping within the law even in stressful situations when there might otherwise be a risk of unintentional violation,” said Hampus Hansson, commercial development manager for Volvo Dynafleet.

Many of the issues affecting Fiskhamnens Akeri will sound familiar to Canadian carriers. Finding qualified drivers is difficult, because trucking isn’t a high paying profession in Sweden and hauling fish across the country can be far from glamorous. It’s also challenging to keep the trailers full to eliminate wasted miles.

“That’s a big problem because the fish smells even though we wash the trailers every day,” said Hellberg, noting only 30 to 40 per cent of his trucks return to Goteborg loaded.

The company’s drivers are paid hourly wages, and they must always use tacographs which are the police’s way of enforcing the country’s hours-of-service rules. As in Canada, there are owner/operators who run their own trucks hauling goods for major carriers. Hellberg said that’s how many carriers get started – by a single owner/operator who chooses to expand his fleet.

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