TDW Distribution runs one of the largest palletised freight and distribution operations in the UK from its head office located near the M4 in Bridgend. The firm’s 90-strong fleet of commercial vehicles clock up more than seven million miles a year delivering to customers in the food and beverages, manufacturing supplies and building products sector throughout the UK, Channel Islands and mainland Europe.
The family run firm, which is a Palletline member, carries out nationwide deliveries for customers Tesco, building products suppliers Rockwool, and Seda Packaging, among others.
Employing a skilled workforce that includes 110 drivers and turns over in excess of £18m this year, TDW used to have a 250-strong trailer fleet before it adopted tracking technology from transport management software specialists, Mandata.
The installation of small tracker devices, which are attached to the headboards on each unit, has proved a beneficial investment, enabling the firm to cut its overall trailer fleet by 10% - down to 210 over the last 12 months.
An enhanced trailer tracking capability has now become an invaluable part of TDW’s operations, in a move that has seen dozens of devices connected up to a web portal and tracking app, which operates via the Manpack 3 Transport Management System (TMS).
This technology has provided improved real-time visibility, enabling the fleet management team to see where trailers are at any given time. This facility is ensuring that they are not lost or left standing idle for a number of days at customer premises, or are used as stand trailers, costing the firm money and draining resources.
Robert Williams, TDW’s managing director and son of the firm’s founder, believes that it would be ‘extremely hard’ to manage without Mandata’s tracking behaviour technology.
“We would find it difficult to operate without it now,” he says. “Although it’s difficult to fully quantify cost savings, the technology, which is good, easy-to-use and reliable, has been a welcome boon. The information provided in real-time enables us to source any empty trailers and locate units for inspection. In this way, we have been able to review our resources, and identify that we could reduce the fleet to run a leaner operation. In turn, this has seen a reduction in trailer numbers of 10%. Any savings that this has provided in buying new stock and maintenance can be ploughed back into the business to ensure customers continue to receive a high-quality service.”
Specifically developed for the road haulage and logistics sector, Mandata’s TMS brings together operational information into a single PC or cloud-based system that links to vehicle and driver smartphones out on the road. The technology, which simplifies the planning of work, tracks operations and monitors driver behaviour and vehicle performance levels, automates critical processes. This removes time-consuming repetitive tasks, providing fleet visibility in real-time and alerting operators and drivers to any issues.
Improved trailer tracking is among the most recent benefits TDW has seen from its investment in Manpack. In use at the firm since 2004, the system has been upgraded to deliver benefits including integration across the pallet and hazardous chemical transportation operations to facilitate and streamline the transference of information between the two networks.
Electronic invoicing and document scanning features are also included as part of a technology package that also enables PODs (proof of delivery) to be attached to an order along with the relevant invoice before being emailed to the customer. Recent developments have included the introduction of a drag-and-drop traffic pad, securely linking delivery jobs and trucks. And in a further extension, tracking has been integrated with the traffic pad to provide enhanced job planning and monitoring capabilities.
“This has made routing easier and afforded our drivers a high degree of visual heads-up regarding any potential problems,” adds Robert Williams. “They can see at a glance their current location while start times are visible, cutting out the need for unnecessary phone calls and, overall, speeding up the whole planning process.”
Augmented tracking and fleet behaviour capabilities are also enabling TDW to better capture critical vehicle and driver performance data. Analysis of this information is shared to raise awareness and understanding of operational issues, and monitor and improve driving standards.
On the back of this, a driver bonus scheme has been introduced in a successful move that rewards good behaviour and superior driving skills. Information about drivers who are making an extra effort is also captured and recorded.
Robert Williams also adds: “Better, more skilled drivers mean our vehicles are being driven more effectively and responsibly which in turn has led to a considerable increase in vehicle fuel efficiency. MPGs have increased by an average of two miles per gallon across the fleet within two months which, when spun out across all of our vehicles over several months will represent significant savings.”
The company is currently implementing a new fleetway workshop management component from Mandata. Although its early days, this feature will enable the transport department to be able to see the status of jobs at a glance on smartphones and other mobile devices thanks to a system of coloured lights.