“We’ve been recognized as having the best year-to-date DSO across all the trucking companies in the whole Mullen Group of companies. Synergize has helped reduce our DSO, a number we track daily.”
Synergize is used in three Hi-Way 9 divisions: the original Hi-Way 9 Express main LTL business, the Loadway double stack logistics fleet, and Streamline Logistics and Warehousing for custom freight loads. Serving 14 depots around Alberta, a single trailer in the LTL division can have anywhere from one to 200 shipments in one trailer load for one destination. Since every shipment has its own BOL, Hi-Way 9 can process up to 140,000 billing documents in a typical month. To respond to inquiries, employees would have to search through boxes of documents saved back seven years and stored in three or four old trailers, which would have to be pulled over to the door before search could even begin.
The original owners of the company recognized back in 2000 that to grow the company, electronic document management and automation would be necessary. “It was just becoming too overwhelming for the staff. It’s too much paper for people to handle,” states Nellis Foesier, Manager of IT / Admin Support.
In an early move, Hi-Way 9 installed TruckMate by TMW Systems, and immediately engaged Microdea as an imaging software vendor to provide seamless integration to TruckMate for bulk document processing.
A disaster in 2007 proved the worth of electronic document management. The company had an unused depot in Drumheller where a large number of documents were stored. The depot burned down in April of that year, and all paper records prior to 2005 were lost in the fire. Records that were managed electronically through Synergize, though, were still accessible.
Integrated with transportation management software TruckMate, Synergize handles the PODs, BOLs, invoices and any associated paperwork relating to freight claims. Hi-Way 9 provides their customers with online access to scanned documents in Synergize, on demand via the TM4Web self-service portal.
Documents are ingested into Synergize in one of three ways: by scan (for paper), or by email, which generates a TIF file via the Synergize printer, then gets indexed manually. The third method is via PeopleNet: all Hi-Way 9 trucks are equipped with PeopleNet tablets, so drivers obtain the customers’ signatures for delivery right on the tablet. The POD is transmitted back and automatically ingested into Synergize, with no scanning involved. The Synergize Process Server (SPS) automatically picks up those PODs every ten minutes and indexes them.
The company began their use of Synergize in Accounts Receivable for electronic billing. The Billing department generates the statements and invoices in TruckMate, then Synergize matches the supporting documents to the invoice and sends the set to a designated email address or fax server. Since 2005, the majority of Hi-Way 9’s customers receive invoices by email or fax, with only a very few requiring paper via postal mail.
Hi-Way 9 has since expanded their use of Synergize to other departments. In Maintenance, work orders are scanned to Synergize by vehicle unit number and accessible from within TruckMate. This allows the whole work order history for a trailer or vehicle to be tracked by unit number. In Payroll, documents and training records that are signed by new employees get scanned into Synergize and made available in TruckMate under the Employee Profile, indexed by employee code. Payroll documents are stored electronically for easy retrieval. Different Synergize access privileges are assigned based on group membership or seniority.
Automated billing has been key to the growth of the business. “If we didn’t have the document management system, the billing process would require all manual retrieval and copying, with possible loss of documents,” comments Foesier. “Synergize eliminates all that, giving us quick access to documents on demand.”
Cost savings and efficiency gains have resulted from electronic document management overall, reducing retrieval time. For billing in particular, use of Synergize has helped Hi-Way 9 reduce DSO from 40-50 days previously, to 33-36 days now, a reduction of as much as 34%. The time savings was also considerable: with electronic billing in place, it now takes one person 10 to 15 minutes to stuff envelopes twice a week, rather than all week long when all of the material was printed. This has allowed the company to redeploy one employee to more productive tasks.
Looking ahead, Foesier anticipates rolling out Synergize across their whole dispatch area to integrate documents scanned into that system. As well, he plans to explore further the capabilities of the Synergize Process Server to determine what other processes could be automated or simplified.
Mullen Group Ltd, another Synergize user, acquired Hi-Way 9 in 2011.