PHTS Logistics Inc. and BigRoad
Back in the fall, Phil Heard was flipping through his stack of trucking magazines when an article caught his eye. The story described BigRoad’s new mobile app for drivers and some of the new features that were popular among some early adopters of BigRoad.
“Even for a small fleet, we’ve always been ahead when it comes to trucking technology,” says Phil, President of PHTS Logistics Inc., based in Elmwood Ont.
Early in 2012, PHTS decided to outfit all of their drivers with Android smartphones to improve communications and utilize the larger screen for viewing email from their dispatch system, and other documents like detailed itineraries. Now, the idea of a new mobile app from BigRoad that could tie it all together was interesting, and PHTS decided to test it out.
True to form, Phil asked Teresa Herman to load the free BigRoad Mobile App on her Android smartphone and start playing around with it. Teresa is master of all things technological at PHTS and Phil’s right hand when it comes to utilizing the latest and greatest tools to improve efficiency at PHTS.
“I’m very hands on with new tools,” Teresa says. “Because the app was free, I downloaded it onto my phone. I played around with it to see what it looked like visually and to judge how user-friendly it was.”
Bringing Drivers Onboard
Teresa recognized that introducing new tools to older, non-tech-savvy drivers can be challenging. But she says BigRoad was well received because it was easy to navigate.
PHTS started by asking a couple drivers to download the app on their phones and come back with feedback or any issues. “I want you to break it is what I told them,” says Teresa with a laugh. Any usability issues identified were easily addressed by Teresa because she had used the app and knew it well.
Within a few weeks, other drivers became interested and all of them started to use it as a part of their daily routine. They really liked the improved messaging back and forth with dispatch enabled by the in-app messaging feature from BigRoad. Teresa decided it was time to trial the BigRoad Web App, the desktop-based application for use by dispatchers that helps better control overall fleet decision-making. PHTS has 12 tractor units, 2 minivans, and 35 trailers servicing mostly Southwestern Ontario that needs to be managed centrally by dispatch.
“We started out with those trials in the fall and since then it’s been implemented across the board. Today we are now using BigRoad instead of paper logs completely.” says Phil.
Electronic Logging is Just the Beginning
eLogs went live in early January and have stood the test of MTO (Ministry of Transportation Ontario) inquiries. A few drivers have been pulled over by MTO staff, showed the eLogs, and there were no issues.
At a drivers meeting prior to rollout, everyone agreed on the same terms for picking up loads, drops-offs and status changes. By viewing driver remarks, duty status, and leveraging truck-based GPS (along with GPS capabilities in the mobile app), PHTS is gaining better control over fleet and driver productivity.
“The impact on our business from BigRoad is it makes it easier for drivers to do their logbooks, it’s less paper intensive, and much more accurate recording details for drivers,” says Phil. “They get the accuracy and it’s very easy. It tells them exactly how much time they have left in their cycle and in their day. It takes the guesswork out for them because it makes sure they fill out all the required fields.”
In addition to eLogs, PHTS is now processing payroll based on the information managed through BigRoad for Drivers. Teresa says they needed to be very comfortable with the accuracy of the eLogs before they introduced payroll processing because ”you’re dealing with money out of people’s pockets” if the system isn’t 100% reliable. The new payroll process has replaced daily timesheets to generate payroll.