Finding a better route
Australian rental equipment company Coates Hire cut costs and improved service with a combined transportation management/route planning solution.
By Ben Ames
As its business grew, Australian rental equipment company Coates Hire needed a better way to manage its largely decentralized, nationwide fleet of more than 160 trucks and network of 300-plus external transportation partners. The company found what it was looking for last year, implementing collaborative software systems that have centralized transportation management, reduced operating costs, and improved customer service levels. As the company's leaders explain, today Coates Hire is delivering the right equipment, in the right place, at the right time—and in the safest, most efficient manner—to more customers than ever before, thanks to its new transportation management and route planning solutions from logistics technology developer Descartes Systems Group.
CENTRALIZING THE APPROACH
Coates Hire is a rental equipment company that handles everything from chainsaws to compressors to earth-moving equipment, shipping the machinery from 170 branches across Australia. The company's previous, decentralized approach to managing transportation meant that each branch had its own process for utilizing the company's fleet and its external partner network. Trucks were utilized to varying degrees of efficiency, and employees handled route planning and scheduling with varying degrees of skill and effectiveness. Costs fluctuated. Managers knew there was room for operational improvement and cost savings.
With the help of Descartes reseller Bestrane, Coates Hire implemented the software vendor's route planner and transportation management modules—a move that allowed it to centralize management of the internal fleet and external partners in a single user interface, which improved visibility across its transportation network. Company leaders say the change has transformed Coates Hire's transportation planning and delivery operations, enabling it to better utilize existing resources, streamline and improve customer service across multiple branches, reduce external transportation spending, and cut back on the number of transportation planners required nationwide.
"We are better equipped with optimized mapping of routes, timing and kilometer measures, and up-to-the-minute tracking of our deliveries to ensure that every movement is efficient and [an] effective use of our resources," says Adam Welch, Coates Hire's group manager of transport logistics. "Combined with more effective use of external transport partners, the system is also making transport more cost effective for Coates Hire."
ROLLING IT OUT
Coates Hire deployed the Descartes combined transportation management/route planning solution at its Brisbane, Queensland, branch in late 2017 and began to roll out the system nationally this year. Upgrades and enhancements are ongoing—and as for improvements, company leaders say the sky's the limit.
"A seamless customer service experience, where Coates Hire drivers are delivering Coates Hire equipment, means great things for our customers, and with the increased utilization that the system has allowed, we are able to provide this," Welch says. "With customer-experience improvements like real-time notifications and live delivery tracking coming soon, there are some exciting future developments to look forward to as well."
About the Author
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.
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