Logistics 2500X1666

Five Ways Companies Can Improve Their Hauling Logistics – Constructor Magazine

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BY BART RONAN
CEO, TRUX, AN AGC OF CALIFORNIA MEMBER

Getting the logistics of material hauling “right” isn’t easy. For decades, contractors have worked with material producers, fleets and brokers to keep our country’s infrastructure projects running — while dealing with significant challenges. To stay ahead of the competition, every construction company needs to be asking themselves how they can incorporate best practices into their day-to-day operations. There are five key strategic areas to focus on.

• Dispatching and Communication
• Visibility
• Asset Utilization
• Ticketing/Load Slip Documentation
• Invoicing

Logistics 2500X1666
Five Ways Companies Can Improve Their Hauling Logistics – Constructor Magazine 3

You need a solid plan to combat the challenges your organization faces in these five strategic areas and there are three potential options on the table:

  1. Do Nothing
  2. Expand on & Improve Current Manual Processes
  3. Leverage Technology

For construction professionals seeking to get ahead, doing nothing is simply not a viable option. Focusing on best practices and emerging technology is key to future success.

DISPATCHING & COMMUNICATION

Dispatchers control the flow of trucking to and from the jobsite and are responsible for fielding phone calls from drivers, material producers, the jobsite foreman, project managers, etc. with an endless stream of questions. This leaves many dispatchers feeling caught in the middle. Fortunately, dispatchers tend to be resourceful problem solvers focused on amazing customer service but there are ways your business can better support their efforts.

Best Practices You Can Deploy Right Now
Focus on centralizing dispatching. Managing schedules in one clear view allows dispatchers to become more efficient and have greater confidence.

Increase scheduling efficiency. Optimizing your scheduling can promote jobsite efficiency. For example, staggering the arrival times of dump trucks to the jobsite means more time for the foreman and crew to prepare and fewer lines.

How Technology Can Help
Reorder Dump Trucks in Bulk. When long-term projects come up, technology can help dispatchers “rinse & repeat” day after day.

Easy Reassignments and Change Orders. Deploying digital tools to handle changes throughout the day allows the dispatch office, jobsite and haulers to stay connected in real-time.

Dispatch from Anywhere. When you can work anywhere, projects stay on schedule and on budget while providing a better work/life balance for dispatchers.

Pushing the needle on these key best practices will increase material moved to jobsites, help achieve higher profits, gain greater customer satisfaction and employee retention.

VISIBILITY

Whether you own dump trucks yourself or leverage third-party haulers, visibility is a huge “blind-spot.” The impacts of poor visibility are felt by every department. A lack of visibility is one of the biggest factors jeopardizing project budgets and timelines.

Best Practices You Can Deploy Right Now
Promote Consistent Communication. Ensuring everyone on the project is committed to communicating changes in a productive way, to a central location, cuts down on confusion, allowing key stakeholders to adjust efficiently.

Don’t Point Fingers. It’s easy to blame another area of the business for dropping the ball, but coming to the table willing to work together will generate better results.

How Technology Can Help
Real-time Tracking. This is the quickest way to reduce confusion and build trust between the jobsite, haulers, and dispatch.

Promote Early Intervention. Technology provides the tools to reach out and intervene immediately when something is going off the rails or someone is off course.

The benefits of improved visibility are clear. Promoting communication and taking a team approach, combined with the power that technology provides sets a clear path forward. A path paved with less idle time, more material delivered, and greater trust.

ASSET UTILIZATION

Asset utilization tends to be a fleet “buzzword,” but what are the real ways you can improve asset utilization? In all honesty, it is difficult enough to even know how often your assets are utilized, never mind trying to improve the ratio. Without the right tools and practices in place, it is impossible to track and improve asset utilization.

Best Practices You Can Deploy Right Now
It Starts with Education. Make sure your team understands what asset utilization means and the impacts it can have on your overall profitability.

Set Goals with Clear Benchmarks. This requires that you do the hard work of tracking current utilization and creating a clear plan outlining where you need to go and the steps it will take to get there.

How Technology Can Help
Reduce the Grunt Work. Getting a baseline asset utilization ratio (or the total revenue earned for every dollar of assets a company owns) is difficult, especially if you need to do it all manually. Technology can help you track and report on current utilization.

Leverage Data to Align the Team. Technology not only assists with the initial grunt work, but it helps you stay on track toward meeting your goals. Easily pull reports and analyze the data, rather than spending hours manually tracking usage.

If you have five or more trucks running every day, even small changes to your asset utilization could mean you get an additional hour of usable time per truck per day. One additional hour per truck per day gets you more profitable — leveraging the assets you already own.

TICKETING/LOAD SLIP DOCUMENTATION

Ticketing and load slip documentation is a topic that has been looming on the horizon for quite a while and COVID-19 brought it to the forefront. The industry is now being forced to find a solution.

Best Practices You Can Deploy Right Now
Educate Yourself. This will be especially important if your company focuses on public projects. Many state DOTs are currently issuing or have recently issued digital or eTicketing guidelines. Get educated on what rules and regulations are currently in play for your area.

Get Involved. In states where the process of investigating eTicketing is still ongoing, many DOTs are actively looking to work with contractors. There are opportunities to partner with local road builder associations and/or state DOTs to help shape how eTicketing will be structured.

How Technology Can Help
Get Ahead. Many logistics technology providers have been partnering with state DOTs for months to build solutions that address their requirements and keep construction sites safe, on schedule and compliant.

Align the Back-Office with the Field. Relying on back-office employees to catch invalid or missing data isn’t scalable and is a misuse of their valuable time. Technology connects the dots and ensures the back-office has up-to-date and accurate information each day.

It doesn’t appear that digital ticketing is going anywhere post-COVID-19. Construction companies that make a commitment to building best practices and aligning technology to help their employees stay compliant will find themselves positioned for ongoing success.

INVOICING

The reality of managing hauler invoices is far from ideal. Reducing the amount of paperwork and manual processes associated with processing and paying hauler invoices can have significant impacts on your company’s bottom line.

Best Practices You Can Deploy Right Now
Stop Rounding Timesheets. Rounding timesheets to the nearest quarter hour doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when it happens every day — multiple times per day — the compounding impacts are great. Focusing on accuracy can quickly help you improve the efficiency of your logistics.

Get on a Schedule with your Hired Haulers. When you leverage outside hauling, ensuring that all the needed paperwork is complete and on-time is critical. Structuring these conversations can be tricky, but it is important to ensure you are all on the same page at the beginning of your relationship. Defining the process and outcomes of missed deadlines or incomplete paperwork is key to a mutually beneficial relationship.

How Technology Can Help
Digital Punch In/Out. Working with hired haulers through technology allows you to receive invoices that are accurate to the minute, not the quarter hour.

Automatic Invoice Generation. Technology can also ensure the accuracy of invoices by taking all digital punch in/out events and aggregating them onto one easy weekly invoice.

Dispute Management. With activity and timesheets tracked digitally, dispute management becomes a breeze. No more questioning what happened. The data is right in front of you.

The single biggest thing contractors can do to improve invoicing is cut down on all the manual work. This is a huge area of potential efficiency gain. Removing friction and manual processes can save your business an average of 728 hours per year — just on invoice processing alone. That means more time for the back-office to focus on all their other work!

THE PATH FORWARD

There is not a cookie-cutter solution to the problems facing the construction industry. However, placing an emphasis on expanding and improving current processes while finding the most impactful ways to incorporate technology will position your business for success in years to come. Early adopters leveraging technology to improve efficiency are seeing staggering results. We are talking about over 1,000 hours per year of “soft benefits” in time savings and $160,000+ of “hard benefits” from dollars saved.

Bart Ronan is the CEO of TRUX, the leader in dump truck logistics technology. TRUX, an AGC of California member, is an all-in-one platform designed to help material producers, trucking companies, and contractors streamline truck scheduling, driver communication, and back-office processes.

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