Enhanced visibility into fleet operations

Before implementing a field service management solution in the spring of 2013, it was common for Moore Supply Co. to send two trucks to the same site by mistake or call drivers out in the field to find out where they were. Daily operations at the plumbing products supply company could be described as slightly controlled chaos, with the employee who scheduled deliveries trying to keep track by memory of who was where and when they were there.

“We had zero visibility into our operations,” says Moore Supply’s general manager Jeff Joyner. “Our dispatcher would call the drivers to find out where they were, why they were there and where they had been.”

Joyner recognized this was not the best way to operate a business. It was costly and unproductive, and because the company couldn’t keep track of its vehicles and drivers, customer service suffered, and so did fleet operations and vehicle maintenance.

“Clearly, we needed to be more efficient,” says Joyner, “and we recognized the need for additional effectiveness in our planning. We needed to know what they were delivering, how they were loading the trucks, in what truck and at what time.”

Joyner knew there had to be a technology to help bring business operations under control. He started researching options and learned about Trimble’s Field Service Management (FSM) solutions after getting in touch with Stephen Conroy, CEO of Location Lock, one of Trimble’s Dealer Partners. Trimble is a company that applies technology to make field and mobile workers in businesses and government more productive (www.trimble.com).

On Conroy’s recommendation, Moore Supply deployed Trimble’s integrated suite of Fleet Management and Work Management cloud-based solutions.

Fleet Management employs in-vehicle devices and GPS tracking to collect real-time location data, explains Conroy. Work Management delivers intelligent scheduling tools and performance analytics.

Together, he says, the applications help companies boost productivity and efficiency through schedule and route optimization.

 

VISIBILITY INTO FIELD OPERATIONS

Based in Mesquite, TX, Moore Supply is a leading wholesale distributor of premier plumbing products, pipe valves and fittings from top manufacturers for residential, commercial and industrial construction. Its parent company, Hajoca Corp., operates 51 plumbing supply businesses across the South and is the largest privately held wholesale distributor of plumbing, heating and industrial supplies, with locations in 32 states.

The two companies work in tandem to offer a wide inventory at competitive prices.

Moore Supply uses medium duty stakebed and box trucks to make deliveries to construction worksites, customer offices and residences. More than 95 percent of its customers are in construction-related fields, including plumbing, mechanics, building and remodeling.

The company, which traces its origins back a century to a small contracting business in Lake Charles, LA, first started looking at field service technology in August 2012 with the goal of gathering critical data to improve efficiencies, lower costs and optimize routing.

“As the business grew, so did the number of deliveries,” says Joyner. “Before installing Work Management, we had two trucks going to the same site and didn’t know they were there so we sent couriers to make the delivery. Using couriers was becoming a major expense.”

With Trimble’s FSM applications in place, Moore’s sales team gained much-needed visibility into field operations so they could track who was making a delivery and where. Because the team now knows where company vehicles are at all times, it’s easier to reassign a truck when necessary to make a delivery instead of sending a courier.

“This really reduced our costs since we were no longer sending multiple trucks to the same place,” Joyner says.

Still, the first day that Moore tested the Trimble system there was some lingering doubt as to whether the technology would work as expected. Having operated in near chaos for so long, a change seemed almost too good to be true.

“We had our ‘ah-ha’ moment the first morning we tested Work Management. We had 40 deliveries planned and we said, ‘How can we ever do this?’ We plugged all the information into Work Management and it optimized the routes and assigned the right trucks, and it all worked out just fine,” says Joyner.

He says this solution has vastly improved the company’s efficiency and productivity. As a result, the company has enjoyed a reduction in operational costs and improved staff utilization and accountability, driver safety and customer service.

 

OPERATIONAL IMPROVEMENTS

With Trimble’s Fleet Management solution, Moore Supply has been able to make more informed decisions to better maintain its fleet by using the real-time field status information and trip-management tools. The solution collects information from a vehicle’s data bus, including current vehicle location; diagnostic information about its “health;” fuel usage; mileage; and exception alerts for such things as speeding, idle time, route deviation, off-hours use, etc.

There are also vehicle maintenance schedule notifications that have improved vehicle maintenance scheduling and performance, notes Joyner. All of this helps increase the amount of time vehicles are productive.

He says the company has significantly decreased fuel costs by reducing unauthorized vehicle use and curbing excessive speeding and idling. Additionally, with the solution’s vehicle diagnostic capabilities, it has been able to lower the risk of mechanical failures.

Joyner says that thanks to Trimble’s FSM solutions, Moore Supply has come a long way from the days of dispatchers struggling to keep driver’s schedules and assigned tasks in their heads and fleet managers toiling to manage the planning and day-to-day vehicle repair and maintenance.

The company is now more productive, which means improved efficiency, happier customers and a positive bottom line, he says. What company doesn’t want that?

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