Driving a 30,000 pound vehicle safely is not easy. When you add on a 48 foot trailer and up to 50,000 pounds of freight, it can be quite a daunting task.
In addition to getting freight where it needs to be, truckers can also be tasked with managing a significant amount of paperwork related to their deliveries, including items such as bills of lading (BOLs) and delivery receipts. Getting this paperwork from the field to the back office personnel is an important aspect of a fleet’s day-to-day operations.
This document trail led North Dakota-based Magnum to look into streamlining the process with an electronic scanning solution inside the cab of the trucks in its less-than-truckload (LTL) division, one of five divisions that comprise Magnum’s entire operations. The LTL division consists of 200 trucks and 500 trailers, which haul everything from health care and hospital supplies to chemicals and hazardous materials.
Unfortunately for Magnum, the electronic scanning solution they implemented to better manage documents wound up causing more problems than it solved, including poor image quality, frequent device breakdowns and costly monthly expenses.
“Half of the images our drivers captured would have to be thrown out and rescanned once they arrived back at the terminal,” said Nolan Archer, quality assurance (QA) analyst for Magnum. “This extra legwork required us to bring staff in at night to upload images, manage them and attach them to bills before we could invoice our customers.”
These headaches were not sustainable for Magnum and they soon began to research other electronic scanning options for its fleet and drivers.
Implementing an electronic scanning solution was not the first time Magnum has relied on technology to increase efficiencies and performance in its business. Magnum’s innovative use of technology is exemplified by its wide ranging tech stack, which includes Trimble’s in-cab (PeopleNet) solutions as well as back office solutions like Trimble’s TruckMate transportation management system (TMS) and Appian routing solution from Trimble MAPS.
“From a technology perspective, we are always testing new solutions and seeing what is going on in the industry,” said Alex Kjelland, operations coordinator, asset management, for Magnum. “We have several business intelligence (BI) initiatives and consistently get new trucks and equipment to ensure we stay up to date.”
As part of its relationship with Trimble, Magnum began to investigate alternative electronic scanning solutions for its business and drivers. Magnum’s Trimble contacts recommended that they look into Vector, an in-cab scanning provider that integrates with Trimble’s in-cab equipment.
“We were in the process of upgrading our Trimble in-cab solutions and they suggested we have a conversation with Vector,” said Archer. “Being able to utilize Trimble’s hardware to also scan documents made a lot sense, giving us the potential to improve our scanning capabilities and also reduce the amount of equipment in the truck.”
Magnum soon began to test Vector’s solution and how it might fit in addressing its scanning needs. Immediately, Magnum noticed a significant improvement in image quality when comparing Vector to its current scanning solution.
“It was night and day in terms of image quality, ease of use and capabilities,” said Kjelland. “What also impressed us was Vector’s agility; during our evaluation, we would ask for specific customizations and Vector was able to turn around the functionality in as little as 24 hours.”
Shortly after testing began, Magnum decided to implement Vector as part of its upgrade to the latest set of Trimble’s Android™-powered in-cab solutions.
Once Magnum started to roll out Vector across its driver base, it realized that the benefits of the Vector solution went beyond just improved image quality and less equipment in the cab. This new scanning solution also helped to streamline the entire document management process.
“Utilizing Vector has enabled us to collect documents much faster, getting them consistently throughout the day and avoiding a flurry of documents at the end of the day like we had experienced previously,” said Archer. “Not only does this improve back office workflow but the increased speed of document collection also enables us to invoice faster.”
Vector’s impact on Magnum’s bottom line extends beyond just improved billing; Magnum estimates that it is saving about $5,000 per month in subscription costs when compared to its previous in-cab scanning platform.
The cost savings are paired with robust customer service from both Trimble and Vector, providing Magnum with responsive, regular support to benefit both back office staff and drivers alike.
“The drivers love [the Vector app and Trimble display] for ease of use and the increased space in the cab from less equipment,” said Kjelland. “The app also enables enhanced functionality like barcode scanning and pre-filled data fields, which makes the task of scanning documents easier and requires fewer manual steps for drivers.”
On the heels of this successful implementation, Magnum is already looking ahead to see how Trimble and Vector solutions can impact other areas of its driver workflows, including in areas like vehicle inspections and sharing freight images to prepare warehouse personnel for shipments before they hit the dock.
“This experience has been awesome,” said Archer. “Through the implementation of Trimble and Vector, we’ve received incredibly responsive support and our drivers are much happier.”