[PODCAST] Talking Trucking Tech - Episode 3

Microdea 2020-09-09 12:57:32
Microdea on Sep 09 2020

Below is a transcript of the podcast episode. There may be inaccuracies, or edits of the audio version added for readability.

Steele:

Hello everyone. And welcome to another episode of Talking Trucking Tech with Microdea. I'm Steele Roddick and I'll be your host each week as guests and I talk about how technology is transforming the transportation and logistics industry. The goal of TTT is to help carriers and brokers successfully manage, manage the rapidly changing landscape of freight technology, including trends, platforms, best practices, and business results.

Today on TTT, we have Alan Slater, the controller at Bandstra Transportation. Bandstra is a predominantly LTL carrier operating out of Smithers, British Columbia. It was first founded all the way back in 1955. Today, we're going to discuss how Bandstra has leveraged technology in every area of their business, to operate more efficiently and better serve both their customers and their community. Welcome, Alan. Thanks for being here. So let's jump right into it. You know, since we're recording this in August and we're still in the midst of kind of the coronavirus pandemic, I thought maybe a logical place to start would be with, you know, how your use of technology at Bandstra has helped you navigate through these difficult times.

Alan:

I think with all of the preparation we've done and the work we've done with Microdea it hasn't been a huge impact for us because we were able to shuffle work very quickly to other branches or other people. And we were then set up. So if anybody in office was closed down because of the, COVID a virus infecting that office, we were easy. We're able to carry on operations from somewhere else, especially the, the the administration side of it and the office paperwork and things like that.

 

Steele:

Yeah. So you guys, you guys really were well well prepared and didn't really see a huge interruption in your business.

Alan:

You know, we had some people off for a while, but, you know, just as a precaution because they'd been traveling overseas, but it was very easy just to shuffle that, to work somewhere else to another branch or another person.

Steele:

Cause it was all the pieces were in place for it. Yeah. And everyone could, could access it from, from various locations. Yeah, no, that's great to hear. So I know at Bandstra you've been, you know, you're quite good at being forward looking and taking advantage of technology that maybe you could quickly list sort of the main technology systems you use today and you know, where you've seen kind of the biggest gains for making use of those systems.

 

Alan:

The biggest has been from the back office has been using it Microdea's system. We also use satellite tracking and a host of other items that we in conjunction with TruckMate, but from from managing the, the back-end paperwork Microdea has been one of the big ones. And of course we're still working with Microdea on improving it all the time. We'll bring in new things, new, new facets of it. Yeah.

Steele:

Have you like implemented more technology? Yeah. I'm curious, I'm curious about the transportation management side or even other technologies you're bringing into the truck these days,

Alan:

The mostly satellite it's a satellite tracking or managing the fleet and or trailer tracking. You, those, those have been some of the big ones.

Steele:

Maybe, can you talk a little bit about how kind of like use of that technology has helped you better serve customers? I know, you know, customer experience or making sure you meet expectations or changing expectations as it is a big thing right now

Alan:

In terms of what, how we doing it, our customers I think most of them have during the virus wanting no, no paper. But of course that's been set up beforehand. So, you know, they're all getting their documents by email invoices, backup documents, proof of delivery builds relating -  anything else that they they're always getting that. So we're up at about 97% of our billing goes out by email. And of course, any other documentation afterwards that they requested it's available by email, so mails down to bare minimum

Steele:

That's great to hear you know, I read on your website you've used technology used to reduce fuel consumption in your fleet. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Alan:

We're able to now monitor whether it is excess idling or excess breaking and speeding. So you know, so we can keep more control over what the drivers are doing. I know in winter time the guys would go ahead and for lunch and allow the truck to idle for an hour or summertime allow the truck to idle for an hour while the air conditioning is keeping the truck cool for them. So we're able to see very quickly at what they're doing and particularly speeding as well has cut down quite a bit. So, you know, that cuts the fuel costs and things like that. And then I guess just regular maintenance and everything else and making sure the fleet's always tip top condition with new trucks and trailers and things.

Steele:

Gotcha. Yeah. Do you use like governors or you don't limit the speed the trucks can go, but you do you track it?

Alan:

Yeah, we are tracking all the time and we get notification as soon as, as soon as the guys exceed any, any limits. Gotcha. And then follow up with them very quickly. We'll send them a message. So they they're fully aware now.

Steele:

Right? Yeah. Did you get, yeah. Did you get push-back at first about that? Or did, did you have trouble or do you still?

Alan:

There's always, there's always push-back when you're trying to change some things, but once people get into the routine and the habit and realize that it's a it's for their own benefit, then I think they do fall in line as well. So there's always, always push-back from whenever you're changing things. So, yeah.

Steele:

I'm glad that you got everyone on board, right. I know you've been at this for a while now, what sort of over the years, what's maybe a technology or a trend that maybe caught you by surprise in terms of, you know, maybe its importance or how it's grown up to be more important over the years?

Alan:

It's tough to say. We're always trying to be trying to be aware of all the technology that's coming out there, but for our benefit, our users, at this point in time, we haven't been caught by surprise, but we're always fearful that our reaction is going to be too slow and that we'll, we'll be caught somewhere. So it's always trying to keep up, seeing what's out there at all times and, and, and trying to figure out how, how to adapt or how to use it for ourselves. So I think our biggest fear is, is being called short somewhere where we don't see it coming like the pandemic broadside.

Steele:

Yeah, of course. You just try to you know, try to pay attention to what other people are doing or yeah. How do you know, stay up to date?

Alan:

I think it's talking to the vendors, you know, particularly when you guys have a conference talking to vendors, talking to clients, you know, getting their ideas and anything that we do see and think that will benefit us and then, and then pushing it as much as possible. Yeah, that's a [what I like to do at] a trucking conference. And just generally talking to people, I go down to the CPA conferences. I always listen to them and see what kind of technology that they're putting in and what's, what's on the horizon. So it's always good to keep touching, touching base with that and, and trying to figure out how are we going to adapt or how are we going to use it?

Steele:

Yeah, that's great to hear. Can you to talk a little bit more about the philosophy at Bandstra? Again, when I was doing a little bit of research before, you know, we had this chat, I came across a line on your website about how your main focus has always been to provide a meaningful service to the communities that you're a part of. I wonder if you could speak a little bit more about that part of your philosophy at Bandstra

Alan:

Where you're operating in a lot of small communities, it's always, if we provide a good service to them, then they will support our business as well. You know, if we were to just do a abandon the client, those regular clients, then competitors would walk in very quickly into our lane. So keeping them happy, keeping everybody happy, builds a good reputation and it's allowed us to continue to grow and then to have clients that are very happy with that. So if we provide a good providing a good service

Steele:

Yeah. Cause I know in, in some of those smaller communities, it really is a light. It really is a critical service that you're providing. Right.

Alan:

Absolutely. And particularly during COVID you know, we're, we're kind of the sort of lifeline bringing products, products in and servicing the minds and all that. Yeah.

Steele:

Hmm. Yeah,  I just thought that was nice to read and, you know, it's interesting how, you know, really caring about your customers can really help. You know, just as you're saying, it really is about staying competitive too. Like you really do need to put the customers first.

Alan:

Yeah. And it breeds the loyalty as well. So if we're loyal to them, they're loyal to us and yeah. And it keeps the competition at Bay, hopefully so far.

Steele:

So as you talked about you know, paying attention to what's on the horizon - what is on the horizon for Bandstra? What are maybe some technologies you think are promising or maybe that you think will become more important over the next few years?

Alan:

I'd love to see more blockchain. I attended one of the blockchain sessions at a previous conference. And it was fascinating too, to hear where they are taking blockchain. I think that was UPX or Purolator, one of the big us companies there. And so blockchain would probably be something for the future with our partners, but it's always a tough, tough thing. If everybody moves at different speeds, then you know, you can't always get it. Can't always get what you want. So I think blockchain will probably be something down the future who knows the use of artificial intelligence. We're trying to wrap our heads around that. And you know, we, we try to see more and more and see where that could actually take us as well. So it's trying to figure out where, where the best benefit and the best bang for the buck is going to go for the use of our dollars on using artificial intelligence. Well, those are some of the things for down the line or down the future. I just wish we had enough time in the day to put all these things in very quickly. It's always frustrating not being able to do it the next day.

Steele:

Of course, on the, yeah, I guess on the blockchain point, I know it is still kind of early days and I've been, I've been trying to read as much about it. Where do you think, you think in terms of like information sharing or building trust, or where do you think the benefit is, or like the clear case to be made for moving to a blockchain standard? From what I saw and what I heard there, it would just reduce the time frame of information being captured. So, you know, one side is capturing your information, another side, just capturing information. We've got all these pieces of paperwork flowing all over the place. It would be nice if it was just as simple as it sounded putting it on a spreadsheet and everybody can see it straight away bills settled very quickly, disputes settled very quickly as well. So I think just the time timing on it and then tracking it.

Alan:

So, you know, if it's coming from a long distance and you're tracking it all the way from manufacturing or source or something, you know, you've got, got a track of where it was and where it is all the time, but it's early, early technology for us as well. So there's just the theory at this point in time, for sure.

 

Steele:

For sure. Just nice to know where and what exactly the theory is. It's kind of the same question on, on AI. You think maybe the potentials around, you know, better fleet optimization or, or what have you. Where do you see that maybe, maybe having applicability?

Alan:

I think all the information that we could probably get from automation and reducing a lot of manual work. I think that would have a huge, I mean, like for example, the OCR stuff we're doing has reduced that labor-intensive duties where you, where you can reallocate people to more monitoring things or monitoring exceptions.

So that would really, really help us if we could get rid of some of that manual processes, particularly with demographics, everybody aging, not enough people around to keep things going yeah. Take them on, you know, take the boredom out of the work as well. I think that would certainly help and provide people with better skills and training.

 

Steele:

Yeah. No, that makes sense, we are striving for that all the time. Yeah, that's really interesting. Thanks for sharing that and thanks for joining us today. Thank you for everyone tuning into another episode of TTT and be sure to click, subscribe, to hear more about future episodes. And if you'd like to learn more about Microdea you can always check us out www.microdea.com

Alan:

Thank you, Steele.

Microdea

Founded in 1995 and headquartered in Markham, Ontario, Microdea is a fast growing document management and automation software company serving hundreds of customers in the transportation and logistics industry, including truckload and LTL carriers, private fleets, brokers and 3PLs.

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