At Logistics Link South 2008, Isotrak and Enterprise Software announced they have joined forces to create Transcend, the first fully integrated, real-time "orders to cash" transport management solution for the logistics and transport industry.
Transcend combines the real-time tracking and communication capabilities of Isotrak's Active Transport Management System (ATMS) with the highly regarded Enterprise Transport Management (ETM) package, the market's only end-to-end logistics solution.
The result is a system that unifies order entry, planning, resource management, vehicle tracking, debrief, Proof of Delivery (PoD) and invoicing. It promises to deliver efficiency boosts, cost savings, customer service improvements and carbon footprint reductions for all logistics operators - even 4PLs. Among many quick wins that will be enabled by Transcend, fuel savings are likely to be the most significant, given the tight margins and environmental considerations that increasingly affect today's logistics business climate. This unique and highly valuable tool could be the only way for logistics operators to retain their competitive advantage and maintain a healthy business.
Understanding the challenge
ETM, which integrates with warehouse, fleet and financial management systems, is a highly evolved complete solution for today's dynamic logistics environment where orders are placed and executed throughout the day. Transport managers must use their skills and experience to maximise customer service around the availability of vehicles, but traditionally they have faced a significant limitation in the need to rely on efficiency-sapping telephone calls while allocating jobs to drivers ("where are you now?"), plus more calls and/or physical paperwork to dispatch job manifests and receive Proof of Delivery (PoD) to facilitate billing.
Now, however, Transcend eliminates this limitation through the integration of ATMS's real-time tracking information, which continually updates each driver's precise location, freeing logistics planners from the burden of myriad phone calls, and permitting them to make better and swifter decisions while handling a greater volume of orders. It also enables a much more proactive approach to customer service - operators will be able to see immediately where a delivery is liable to be delayed, and can advise the customer accordingly.
Two-way data means faster billing
ATMS's two-way data communications speed up and simplify the interchange of job manifests and PoDs, which can now be handled by Transcend's in-cab data terminal offerings. This will dramatically reduce admin overheads, reduce stress for drivers and, crucially, speed up the billing cycle. Operators will no longer need to delay invoicing until drivers call in or return to base - and sub-contractors will get paid sooner.
This also means ETM will for the first time be able to fully leverage its 'central repository of data' operational model. The ETM Order Management module holds and tracks loads in electronic form throughout the logistics order lifecycle, replacing functions traditionally completed on paper, on spreadsheets, or on other non-integrated transport systems. This unified data is visible to every user and can relate to single or multiple depots.
Seeing - and reporting - the big picture
Underwriting these logistics-specific benefits are the numerous additional fleet performance boosts that are inherent to the adoption of ATMS. Because ATMS reveals a bird's eye view of the whole transport operation at macro and micro levels, it pinpoints immediately where there are inefficiencies to eliminate, or better practices to implement.
The various aspects of this visibility are manifested in a comprehensive suite of reports, which are provided proactively from ATMS and ETM, daily or weekly, according to each individual customer's requirements. These will permit closer scrutiny of execution based on objective tracking data, as well as turnaround times by location, comparisons of planned & actual times, route analysis and vehicle productivity (including empty running). Previously this data would have been gathered laboriously from phone calls, trip sheets and tachograph data. Now, however, key metrics such as customer profitability can be updated in real-time.
Additionally, Transcend can be extended to encompass Isotrak's CANbus engine management interface, providing additional insight into cost-significant vehicle and driver performance parameters, which have a direct effect on fuel consumption. This can add a valuable additional dimension to driver debriefs, establishing not only "was it delivered on time" but also "was it delivered in the most cost-efficient, fuel-efficient, time-efficient manner?"
Paying its own way
By acting upon the intelligence provided by ATMS, transport managers can achieve efficiency improvements that translate directly to significant costs savings in terms of resources deployed and, of course fuel, which in turn reduces carbon footprint. And while the typical fuel savings delivered by ATMS would be sufficient in themselves to cover the investment in Transcend, that's only the first of many potential benefits that this new service will deliver for logistics companies. Transcend works across the whole organisation to help ensure overhead costs grow more slowly than business volume: by delivering efficiency improvements in the Transport Office and surrounding departments, by streamlining work for the Planning Team, by providing accurate, real-time information for Customer Service, and by speeding up the invoicing process in Finance.
Isotrak and Enterprise Software: partners in synergy
Isotrak and Enterprise Software are natural partners in the creation of the first fully integrated real-time "orders to cash" logistics transport management solution. Both companies provide best-in-class transport technology solutions, share a deep heritage in transport, and possess a mutual belief that technology has the power to transform transport, but should never become its master.
In contrast with 'one size fits all' hardware-focused offerings that are often over-specified and over-complex, Isotrak's and Enterprise's solutions look deeper into the fast-flowing operational data that is the lifeblood of logistics, unifying myriad streams into single points of visibility - vehicles with Isotrak; loads with Enterprise. What matters is providing a clear insight for the whole business into every aspect of its performance.
Craig Sears-Black, Sales & Marketing Director of Isotrak, says: "Transcend finally answers a need that has long existed within the logistics industry: a toolset that boosts efficiency and productivity across the board, and could help keep transport businesses healthy in today's challenging conditions. Competitors will hint at the level of sophistication we now provide through our transport-centred partnership with Enterprise, but none can match the unique blend of transport industry nous and experience that we deliver as an intrinsic part of the deal."
Charlie Nash, Sales Director of Enterprise Software comments: "As far as the logistics operator is concerned, transport management solutions are certainly not created equal, and only Transcend offers the maximum flexibility to cope with new orders being placed, planned and dispatched during the day. By pooling our competences with Isotrak's in such a synergistic and complementary way, we can offer fresh and valuable new facilities to new and existing customers."
Isotrak developed the concept of the Active Transport Management System to help customers improve transport efficiency, improve service performance, improve environmental performance, and reduce costs. ATMS is a highly configurable, modular system that fuses accurate satellite vehicle tracking with Transport Management and connection to the vehicle's engine management system. Using ATMS, transport managers can accurately observe, record and model every aspect of their vehicle fleet performance in real time, including precise geographical location, drop-off times and driving characteristics.
Isotrak provides its customers with tailored software products and professional service solutions to help deliver value and help transform transport management. We deliver our products as a 'managed service' to ensure that customers can focus on the job of managing transport, rather than managing the technology.
Established in 1996 as a division of NFC, Isotrak became a separate company in July 1999 and today manages thousands of vehicles for customers including Asda, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's, Eddie Stobart and the Royal Mail.
About Enterprise Software
As the only complete 'orders to cash' system for the logistics industry, Enterprise Transport Management unifies and streamlines the performance of the traffic office, administration and management in any logistics company. It also embodies Enterprise Software's deep understanding of the logistics industry's true needs, including the ability to distinguish full load and groupage operations, and complex multi-drop plans. It provides tools to monitor and control loads through each stage of the logistics lifecycle, while also handling customer invoicing and subcontractor payments. It even monitors and controls the profitability of each leg in a haulage job.
Enterprise Software was established in 1989 and now eight of the UK's top 15 logistics companies use its Enterprise Transport Management solution, with the total customer base encompassing 70 international customers across a broad spectrum of industries, including TDG plc, Eddie Stobart, K+N Drinks Logistics and GIST.