“Timeliness is of the essence with the automotive business. We are judged every day on metrics, not only for on-time delivery and pickup, but for the movement of data to and from our major customers. Data is at our fingertips through Synergize.”
- John G. LaMantia, Executive Director - Administration, Wolverine Freight System
To stay on as a supplier to The Big Three automotive manufacturers, Wolverine Freight must meet a 98% plus record for on-time pickup of parts and on-time delivery to plant warehouses. Additional requirements – including for communication protocols, age-of-trailer rules and accuracy of GPS readings – result in a need for data that can have far-reaching implications for the company. In this extremely regulated environment, Wolverine has to have on-demand access to the Proof of Delivery (POD), the Bill of Lading (BOL), and the Driver Trip Reports, an internal document that is necessary in a unionized environment for payroll and audit purposes.
These stringent data requirements meant that Wolverine needed an imaging and document repository solution with quick retrieval available by order number, truck number, employee driver number and numerous other filters. The paper POD is still signed upon delivery at the plant level, and along with the BOL, Trip Report and customs paperwork (if it’s a cross-border load), need to be scanned at head office and made available to customer service representatives. Manual processes and massive volumes of paperwork were out of the question.
Wolverine originally installed Synergize in 2000 as an imaging solution and document repository. Since then, they have added transportation management system TMWSuite to automate billing. The TMWSuite billing module has a hot link to the supporting documents in Synergize for easy look-ups.
Shipping documents get scanned according to the order number, which is the key filter. This ensures that all documents are electronically linked should one of their Big Three clients make a request, for example, to view BOLs back to one year old.
In the event of a government audit of Driver Trip Reports, Wolverine can produce the information, filtered by truck number, across all the trip sheets that have been scanned to Synergize. Special project requirements relative to fuel mileage or payroll-related issues are easily met by searching Synergize by truck number or employee driver number.
Improvements in employee productivity have been considerable with Wolverine’s use of Synergize. Customer service representatives can now quickly and efficiently retrieve and track current shipment data, with no need to leave the desk and chase paper. Driver time spent at various locations can be quickly reviewed, while the Rating and Billing department can easily verify activity throughout the day. Support staff (including collections, customer service, tracing and rate clerks) now have quick and simultaneous access to information with a click of a mouse.
With better, and faster, resources at their disposal, staff can now analyze and audit rather than reacting in a production-oriented role. These efficiency gains have resulted in faster customer service at the front end, and better auditing tools at the back end.
According to John LaMantia, Executive Director-Administration, Customer Service staff have commented “that they could not manage without Synergize. They no longer have to leave their desks in order to file or locate information. Information is now instantly available on their computer screen."
Document scanning takes one part-time staff member just a few hours per week, and paper retrieval has been all but eliminated. The savings on staff deployment have allowed Wolverine to cap the number of hours that would otherwise have required dedicated headcount.
In the future, Wolverine anticipates rolling out Synergize to manage Accounts Payable and Human Resources documents.
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