The Business Problem
At the time Arrow was looking to implement Telus technologies, the company was seeking to upgrade its communication platform that supported its on-board truck computer and back office systems. The company needed a cellular system that was cost-effective and could be used in more of its locations.
“Transportation is a business with high variable costs, well in excess of 70 per cent in most cases,” said Mitchell Zulinick, COO, Arrow Transport. “The only way to minimize variable cost is through direct and detailed measurements that give you specific, correct information on a consistent basis and allows you to put downward pressure on your long-term total cost curve.”
Though Arrow was able to collect data from its trucks and drivers, the method it used was time-consuming and inefficient. Using a system of PCMCIA cards and non-live satellites, they could only retrieve the data once their drivers had arrived back at the office. The company knew it had to invest in on-board technology, and, with this in mind, started to look at cellular packet data solutions.
Arrow chose Telus to provide the mobile data connectivity it needed to upgrade its fleet.
“We’ve implemented a solution where each of the tractors has a mobile SIM card, enabled with mobile data tracking, which allows them to transfer all sorts of critical data with respect to mechanical and driver safety,” said Michael McCarthy, VP, Business Solutions, Telus.
Telus’s solution helped Arrow reduce its costs while increasing its scope and providing it access to its trucks on a more consistent basis.
The implementation process was no small task. Over 300 trucks had to be moved to a synchronous system, and all of the company’s computers had to be changed to accommodate the new technology.
Telus helped Arrow get all of their vehicles onto the new network within a year’s time.
The process itself was relatively straightforward. SIM technology is well-understood, said McCarthy, but the challenge for Arrow lay in putting the technologies together in a way that works.
Lessons Learned and Best Practices
The key to success, said Andre Larouche, CIO, Arrow Transport, is a strong relationship with one’s technology partners.
“You need to be with partners who have a similar mindset that you do,” he said. “And it’s important to involve them early in the process.”
“Pre-planning is very important to successful implementations,” added Zulinick. “You need to figure out your implementation time beforehand, and then you need very strong support once it hits the ground.”
Larouche and Zulinick also noted that having the right support tools and training regimens in place is crucial to the success of any project. This ensures that hardware provisioning, installation time, and connectivity can all be synchronized with as few hitches as possible.
With the implementation of Telus’s wireless technology, Arrow realized a number of benefits, particularly in its ability to compete in new markets.
“We can now depend on technology to find our way in this world,” said Zulinick.
With its newfound ability to collect data more efficiently, Arrow has more control of safety within its operations; by taking stock of its fleet performance and optimizing staff resources, Arrow is able to provide better service to its customers. The system also has enough direct benefits to completely pay for itself, added Zulinick.
“When we originally installed on-board technology, we saved on average 8 per cent on fuel costs alone,” he said. “Better speed control and tractor optimization led to these savings. Also, in lease operator fleets we virtually eliminated spike brake applications, reducing brake costs substantially. The electronic log book function eliminates the needs for paper log books, which can easily cost $20 per month per tractor, and the benefit of direct two-way communication using the Telus cards has had a significant impact on the cost of cellular communication. These are just a few of the most obvious savings.”
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