Rental operators today face a number of unique challenges as they fight to remain competitive. For operators with multiple branches and/or a diverse customer base, maximizing available assets is essential to improving productivity and customer service.
Whether delivering rented supplies for a special function or equipment to a construction site that is tied to rigid scheduling, meeting time and service commitments are a matter of survival. In order to sustain growth and improve profitability in today's competitive environment, some rental operators are turning to Web-based technology to find new ways to improve efficiency and reduce the complexity and costs associated with the scheduling, delivery and pickup of rental products.
Most operators in the rental industry must deal with fluctuating delivery cycles, narrow delivery windows, constantly changing routes and demanding customers. As a result, it is critical that deliveries and pickups — whether pre-scheduled or booked on the same day — are handled as efficiently and accurately as possible.
These and other challenges place a tremendous burden on operators, such as those that must often manually administer dispatch and schedule changes to handle last-minute delivery requests. In addition, those operators that are tied to specific delivery windows frequently have to outsource deliveries to ensure customer needs are being met. All of these have a direct impact on productivity and cost.
Surprisingly, many rental operators still rely on paper-based or rudimentary spreadsheet processes to manage their delivery schedules. This provides only limited value when coordinating routes, since they are not flexible enough to allow for last-minute changes.
The key to profitability and efficiency in this market lies with the ability to optimize delivery cycles and generate more capacity within an existing delivery network. It's a concept that requires a real-time view of fleet operations throughout the day to address fluctuating demand. While this capability historically has been an expensive and complex proposition, it can now be achieved at a fraction of the cost through on-demand, Web-based solutions.
As subscription-based, pay-as-you-go offerings, on-demand logistics management solutions are making it possible and affordable for rental companies of all sizes to monitor fleet activity in real time. With the on-demand model, there are no upfront capital investments since there are no software or integration requirements. All that is required is access to the Internet and a Web-enabled cell phone that drivers use to download information during the day. Having real-time data in hand provides visibility into delivery cycles to help improve route scheduling, exception handling and customer service.
On-demand logistics, such as Cube Route's Routing and Visibility solution, provide a number of benefits to delivery operations, including:
- Improved on-time delivery performance: With ongoing visibility into the delivery cycle, operators can significantly improve on-time delivery performance and narrow delivery time windows.
- Improved delivery accuracy: Geocoding capabilities enable operators to accurately pinpoint locations, as well as provide maps and turn-by-turn driving instructions.
- Lower operating and financial risk: As a hosted solution, on-demand logistics management solutions eliminate the capital costs associated with in-house systems, including hardware, software, maintenance, network, database management.
- Optimized capacity planning: Operators can aggregate deliveries within similar regions throughout the day and incorporate pickups more efficiently.
- Proactive exception management in the field: As driver activity data is updated and accessible in real time, dispatchers can proactively respond to any service disruptions or delays and immediately adjust schedules and update customers on the E.T.A. of their goods.
- Tracking against engineered plans: With on-demand logistics management solutions, operators can create a plan and track it in real time to optimize efficiencies, reduce miles driven and increase stops per paid hour. Analytical functions can help managers assess planned versus actual drive and service times to increase driver productivity and accountability, measure on-time percentages, determine schedule adjustments and maximize resources on the road.
- Enhanced planning based on historical data: On demand solutions offer a variety of customized reporting features that enable operators to review delivery history and assess activities by driver, by area, by customer or by any other grouping for improved planning.
- Improved process control: Information available through on-demand logistics management solutions also help customers coordinate appropriate staffing for scheduled delivery times.