Joyce Tam 2014-04-03 23:18:38
Texas-based Moore Supply Co.Embraces field-service management technology Before implementing a field-service management solution in spring 2013, it was common for Mesquite, Texas-based 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 PHCP distributor 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," Moore Supply General Manager Jeff Joyner says. "Our dispatcher would call the drivers to find out where they had been, where they were now and why they were there." 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. "Clearly, we needed to be more efficient and we recognized the need for additional effectiveness in our planning," he says. "We needed to know what they were delivering, how they were loading the trucks, in what truck and at what time." Joyner did some research and learned about Trimble's Field Service Management solutions after getting in touch with San Antonio-based location Lock, one of Trimble's dealer partners. Location Lock CEO Stephen Conroy adopted the FSM solution as its flagship product for commercial fleets. On Conroy's recommendation, Moore Supply integrated Trimble fleetand work-management cloud-based solutions. The fleet-management package employs in-vehicle devices and GPS tracking to collect real-time location data, while the work-management feature delivers scheduling tools and performance analytics. Visibility into field operations Moore Supply is a distributor of plumbing products, pipe, valves and fittings for residential, commercial and industrial applications. Parent company Hajoca Corp., which ranked No. 10 in last year's Supply House Times Premier 125 listing of the top PHCP/PVF distributors, operates 51 plumbing supply businesses in 32 states. The two companies work in tandem to offer a wide inventory. Moore uses medium-duty stakebed and box trucks to make deliveries to construction worksites, customer offices and residences. More than 95% 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," Joyner says."Before, 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 became a major expense." With the new applications in place, Moore's sales team gained muchneeded visibility into field operations so it could track who was making a delivery and where. The team now knows where company vehicles are at all times, which makes it easier to reassign a truck to make a delivery instead of having to send a courier - therefore saving money. The first day the new system was operational, Moore had 40 deliveries scheduled. "We said, 'How can we ever do this?" Joyner recalls. "We plugged in all the information and it optimized the routes and assigned the right trucks." Operational improvements Joyner says efficiencies and productivity have vastly improved in recent times. As a result, the company's operational costs have been reduced.Staff utilization and accountability, driver safety and customer service also have improved. Before, making a delivery at the promised time was pretty much a shot in the dark. Now, if Moore tells a customer a truck will arrive between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., it is able to honor the commitment. If a customer calls to ask about delivery status, it is possible to give them a reliable answer because vehicles are being tracked through ongoing GPS communication with invehicle devices. "We communicate more efficiently with the customer and more effectively and more accurately with the driver," Joyner says. "These improvements have led to a much higher level of customer service, which in turn leads to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty." Employee accountability also has improved. Previously, if a driver spent a half-hour at a gas station or took too long to unload a truck, Moore managers had no real way to know if and why that was happening. Relevant data now allows supervisors to hold drivers accountable and correct behavior when necessary. "It helps with route efficiency, which also leads to fuel reduction because we're now shaving as much as 15 minutes off how long it took us to do something before," Joyner points out. If a technician is ahead of schedule on a particular day, another software tool adds tasks to the technician's schedule to make sure he or she completes a full eight hours of work without accruing overtime.Conversely, if it looks like a technician won't be able to get to a task it can be reassigned to another worker. "It also improves safety because our drivers don't have to use their cell phones as much," Joyner says. "Before, they had to pull to the side of the road to see where to go next. They had a grid map and ZIP codes, which would get them to their destination. It's so much safer now with tablets and Google maps. The only time they are calling is to let the customer know they are en route." Joyner says because the software applications are easy to use, getting new drivers up to speed takes minimal effort. Even when Moore hires drivers from out of state who are unfamiliar with the routes, they still can easily get to customer sites by following the device's in-vehicle routing instructions.Once they complete a task, the drivers look up their next task and follow the instructions to get to their next stop. For Joyner, the benefits of this technology upgrade are clear. Moore Supply has increased productivity, which means improved efficiencies, happier customers and a positive bottom line.
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