December 2009, TruckingInfo.com - Feature
George Van Dyke Trucking, Tangent, Ore., used to allocate a 100-square-foot storage room, a large in-office filing area, and a team of two to handle the same amount of paperwork controlled by one employee and a computer today.
Software companies have developed ways to convert documents into electronic format as close to delivery as possible. Above is a TripPak scanning station at a truckstop.
Before implementing Prophesy Transportation Solutions' document management system, the 25-truck fleet had files upon files of billing and proof of delivery documents that were kept indefinitely, according to Brad Van Dyke, management. "It's a huge space savings," he says. Company personnel used to touch two to three sheets of paper per load, which all had to be photocopied and filed away. And with 50 loads per day, "that's a lot of paperwork we're going through."
In addition, every time a shipper called asking for a POD, the staff had to sift through the piles of paperwork to find it. Often they had to walk across the street to the company's storage room, housed in another building. "In the old days, we couldn't help but cringe a little when we'd get a call asking for a copy of a POD, because it meant 45 minutes of searching through paperwork," explains Marianne Van Dyke. "Now we just click, and there it is. It is so simple and looks much more professional to our customers."
Brad recalls a recent phone call from a customer requesting information on 30 different loads. All he had to do was flip through a computer screen to find the documents.
The company also was able to cut down its billing staff to one person, who now has time to tackle carrier compliance and driver files in addition to billing. Before switching to a document management system, the company put these things on the back burner to concentrate on the day-to-day filing tasks. The company now has these covered, in case it's ever audited. Members of the staff are freed up to use their time in much more efficient ways, Brad says.
Document management, which involves a computer system that tracks and stores electronic documents or images of paper documents, is a growing trend among fleets looking to streamline their operations and reclaim their file cabinets. Document management technology has advanced and evolved to the point where it now involves such concepts as content management, workflow, and document imaging, offering fleets benefits that go beyond the space savings and a few extra hands.
Scan at the point of delivery
Five years ago, Knight Transportation out of Phoenix wanted to speed up the time it took to receive paperwork and lower the cost of receiving it, according to Dave Jackson, chief financial officer. The company chose to install Pegasus TransTech's TransFlo, an imaging and workflow solution. "It's been one of the best things we've ever done at our company," Jackson says.
Since then, the company has added several hundred trucks, and now everything is imaged and indexed. Drivers can get paperwork to the back office much closer to the point of delivery, scanning documents at truckstops or terminal facilities. "If it's not in the right places for our drivers, it's going to cost us time, money and fuel."
The TransFlo system does save Knight time, money and fuel, Jackson says, as it now allows for expedited billing to the customer. The process reduces the amount of administrative overhead because the document comes as an image. In addition, as drivers scan documents, it turns into pay for them almost instantly. A driver can scan delivery documents in the morning and be paid by the same afternoon, Jackson says. "That has streamlined our business in a huge way."
According to Siamak Azmoudeh, vice president of TransFlo, imaging has evolved over the years from an "after the fact process," to one that has pushed the imaging process more and more to the front. Trucking companies now can turn that paper into an electronic image immediately and as early in the process as possible.
The sooner an image is captured and turned into electronic format, the more secure the document will be, says Harold Grant, senior project manager of document imaging at McLeod Software. This decreases the chances of degrading the document or losing it, and guarantees greater readability. "Paperwork gets lost all the time."
That's why there's increasing availability of in-cab scanning options.
Grant says McLeod's capture capabilities have definitely advanced over the years, with scanning options through its interface to truckstop scanning solutions, as well as in-cab, in-office, or via mobile.
Affiliated Computer Services, which was recently sold to Xerox, operates ACS TripPak Services. TripPak's Scanning offering allows for scanning almost anywhere, including at the truckstop, at terminal facilities, in the cab, or through a supply chain partner. In addition, documents can be remotely captured via a mobile device, e-mail, fax or FTP. In June, ACS partnered with PeopleNet to offer its services on the PeopleNet Blu device. Chad Goins of TripPak says scanning at the point of delivery can shave a few hours off of that cycle, which saves money. "Every penny counts," he says.
Qualcomm has offered in-cab scanning for about a year now through its OmniVision suite of services, and its newest device, the Mobile Computing Platform 200 Series, can not only scan documents in-cab, it can transfer them via wi-fi where available.
Cargo Transporters, Claremont, N.C., has been testing Qualcomm's new MCP200, including the in-cab scanning device, and says it's gone well. The only problem they've run into, says Chairman John Pope, is sometimes the quality of the document being scanned is an issue - at some shippers, the document given to the driver may be a fourth-carbon-copy version.
Texas-based PCS Software, which develops integrated transportation management software products, is doing some innovative things with faxing. The company offers its customers their own 800 number, so drivers can fax PODs from any fax machine. According to Sean Van Dyck, sales manager at PCS, this upgrade provides trucking companies with a way around using paid services such as Pegasus TransTech and TripPak. In the back office, the billing department receives the fax on screen, and can do the billing that day. The document is then indexed. The company has also developed a driver scan application, so that drivers can scan in the cab. These delivery methods speed up the days to invoice, while improving the carrier's image with the shipper.
The sooner a document goes electronic, the sooner the driver and the carrier get paid for the delivery. This process can improve the relationship fleets have with its drivers by building trust, and it can also provide a fleet with quick cash flow. And in this recession, cash flow is a valuable commodity, says Pegasus TransTech's Azmoudeh. "The quicker you can get to your cash, the better off you are."
According to Azmoudeh, Pegasus's system can manage more paperwork at one time, narrowing the gaps between the time of delivery and the time of pay. Of course, such systems cannot control the paying behavior of the customer. "What we can do is get the invoice out the door a lot faster," he says. Pegasus TransTech has also found that many customers have been able to reduce their dependence on factoring services.
Not only can these systems get people paid faster, but they can also help fleets save money overall. According to Dave Lindeen, vice president of Corcentric, it costs more to process a paper document than a digital version. "You'll cut your costs at least in half, if not more," he says.
Corcentric is a McLean, Va.-based business that specializes in helping transportation companies reduce the costs associated with processing business-to-business transactions. The company's Electronic Invoice Presentment and Payment solution enables transportation companies to present and manage invoices online and make payments to one another. The company says this means signi