When looking at a comprehensive telematics system for its operation, Parklea Sand and Soil, took a step-by-step approach to introducing it and in the way it worked for the driver.
Working out of a yard where the outer north-west of Sydney’s sprawl meets the farming land it is swallowing wholesale, Parklea Sand and Soil is one of the many fleets busily ferrying bulk materials around the Sydney region, supplying everything from sand and gravel to mulch and topsoil to large-scale developers, landscapers and the weekend warrior.
In terms of actual hardware on the ground, each truck has a tablet. However, the system is also accessible from a smart phone. The tablet goes with the driver, and the individual trucks are also fitted with a small, simple tracking unit, for positioning only.
All the jobs are sent through to the tablet directly. From the driver’s point of view, the information on the tablet gives them a step-by-step set of instructions on what needs to be done. It specifies what the load is, where it needs to be picked up, where it needs to be delivered and at what time. If there are any instructions to go with the load they will be included.
The driver can look forward through the steps to see what they may be doing on any given day. In fact, the nature of the Parklea business means there are usually only two jobs ahead that have been allocated. If any changes come through, the driver is immediately alerted through the tablet. The company can follow this up with a phone call or a message through the tablet to explain to the driver what they have to do as a result of the changes.
The drivers receive a daily checklist for the truck when they start in the morning and this is all documented on the tablet. If the driver ticks yes, it’s okay, if they tick no, they have to leave a comment as to the nature of the issue. If the problem identified is classified as a high priority, the driver will be instructed to park up the truck and get help.
The next phase of the development of the system is the mechanics module. Currently, allocators send notes from the system to the workshop, but the next stage is for the workshop computer to have visibility into the relevant information about the trucks on the road. Then servicing and repairs can be scheduled with the driver knowing when they need to take the truck to the workshop. When work is done on the truck it can then be ticked off by the workshop as the truck goes back to work.
The load allocators in the office are looking at monitors showing them loads and trucks on a cloud-based system. The information can be accessed from anywhere, if needs be. It can even be accessed from a smartphone. The operation works six days a week, but, one of the allocators and son of company founder Michael Schembri, Mitchell Schembri admits to logging on with his laptop on a Sunday just to make sure everything is in order for the coming week.
The team answer the phone as orders come in and load them into the system. It shows what the customer has previously ordered and where. The details are taken and the order is allocated to the respective part of the fleet. Essentially, loads are divided between those handled by the lighter tippers and those handled by the heavier rigids, plus truck and dogs.
As loads are entered into the system, they appear as coloured blocks on the right-hand side of the screen. The trucks are a series of different coloured blocks on the left of the screen. The allocators simply pick up the load with the mouse and move it across to the chosen truck.
When delivering the load, the driver will go to the tablet and tick it as done. They can then get the customer to sign on the screen, and use the tablet to take a photo of the load in situ. All of this is recorded by the system. The tablet will tell the driver whether the job has been paid for or if they need to collect payment.
If the driver picks up from another location, the system automatically tells them to take a photo of the docket supplied by the quarry, etc. If a job requires a certain weight of material, but the load is actually a different size when collected, the driver can change the amount on the tablet and this will be reflected in the invoicing later down the track.
On arrival at the delivery address, the tablet will automatically go to the next screen ready for the delivery to take place. Once signed, the driver can send the proof of delivery (POD) as an email to the customer, if requested.
There is an option for the driver to see just the next step in the process, or they can choose to see the delivery details like a standard delivery note. The important factor is the step-by-step approach. The driver can’t get a load until they have done the pre-trip check, and the POD cannot be accessed unless the truck is at the customer’s location, the ‘unloaded box’ is ticked and a photo is taken.
Discussing the system with the team at Parklea, the words that continually come up are flexibility and simplicity. This is a traditional transport company that has found a telematics solution which can handle a double task. It needs to enable them to maintain their high level of customer service, while at the same time integrating with a modern business system and accounting interface.