From an article in Welding & Gases Today Online
Integrated Routing Pays Off for Wright Brothers

As GPS and related technologies continue to evolve, Wright Brothers Inc. (Cincinnati, OH) is changing right along with them. Eight years ago, the company invested in GPS in order for customer service people to be able to check on a truck's progress without disturbing the driver. Since then, Wright Brothers has computerized its entire dispatching system. “We recently switched to the United Parcel Service dispatching system, so now we get electronic updates telling us how traffic is affecting our anticipated routes,” says CEO Charlie Wright. “It gives us the opportunity to be proactive and alert customers when there's a problem.” The software tracks the delivery time for each customer and develops a database over time, so the system knows how long each delivery should take. “Travel time is actually the easy piece of scheduling our deliveries, although certainly traffic and weather can affect it,” Wright says. “The variable that's harder to estimate until you develop the database is how long the truck will be at each stop.” This feature also permits the company to accurately estimate the cost of deliveries at each particular account.

With a fleet of eight trucks, the investment in the fully integrated system is substantially more than Wright's initial GPS investment of a few hundred dollars per month. The new system also is much more complex and therefore requires some additional training. “It's a significant investment; however, our folks are totally convinced now that this is the best way to dispatch and monitor trucks,” Wright says. “The big question was whether to let the drivers know that we had the equipment on the truck, and we decided to let our drivers know it was there from day one.”

When Wright initially decided to pursue GPS technology, the reason was to decrease dispatching time. “Dispatching can become more of an art than a science, and we found that when our regular dispatcher was unavailable, the art would change,” Wright recalls. With the system in place, dispatching has become more of a consistent science, though he admits it took a while to perfect.

“It's easy to decide to put GPS in your truck,” he says, “but the more important part is implementing a process to use that information. For quite a while, we had the information but didn't use it very effectively.” Wright cites the example of a driver who was selling nitrous oxide off the back of his truck. The GPS indicated that the driver's account of his activity during a 24-hour period was not accurate. “It gave us an open-and-shut case to dismiss that driver. That taught us that we needed to be more proactive with the information at our disposal.”

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