Feature Story

Personal navigation devices save the day

By Tom Duffey

The costs of an oil driver or service technician getting lost on his (or her) way to the customer’s home are significant. The dollar effect on a company’s profit can be analyzed and determined, and although that analysis and determination goes beyond the scope of this article, it is safe to say that it matters.

Most fuel delivery companies are not blessed with a complete roster of perfect drivers who never get lost and always take the optimal route, in the optimal order. Even the most seasoned driver makes an occasional wrong turn or is sent to an area that is outside his comfort zone. Drivers do get lost, and getting lost does cost.

In the same way word-processing software has virtually eliminated occurrences of misspelling, the personal navigation device (PND) will and is eliminating instances of drivers getting lost. There are a number of good PNDs available on the market today. Magellan, Garmin and TomTom are three very popular brands. These devices combine GPS technology with mapping software to guide a driver from a current location to a desired location. The cost of putting a PND in an oil truck or service van has come down substantially in the past year; most sell for under $600.

Digital Dispatcher (DD), an industry specific logistics solutions provider has taken the TomTom Go 910 and is loading a complete day’s itinerary directly from a smart phone into the TomTom PND. The driver’s orders are route optimized in the office using DD’s host application, wirelessly sent to the driver’s phone, and wirelessly loaded into the PND. The driver simply displays the desired order on his TomTom PND and the device responds with voice and visual aids to direct the driver to the selected stop.

Dennis Thompson, fuel delivery manager of Kelley Energy, where DD first deployed this technology of loading a driver’s day’s work into a PND from a smart phone, reported an increase in stops per shift of better than 5 percent, and a decrease in miles driven per stop of 9 percent. For Kelley Energy, the productivity gains was equivalent to adding a full time truck to the roster, a staggering result from a technology that only cost a few hundred dollars per vehicle.

Whether you are an owner or employee, the economic health of the company you own or for which you work is directly tied to your personal economic health. You have an obligation to your company and to yourself to be profitable and competitive. If you get out of bed and go to work to drive profit and control costs, get a PND for each of your vehicles in the field. If you don’t care about your company’s bottom line, then you might be LOST.

The corresponding images show a smart phone running an application designed by Digital Dispatcher that allows the user to download the day’s work from the office and load that itinerary into a TomTom Go 910 PND. Once the work orders are loaded into the PND, the driver gets turn-by-turn voice and images directions to the delivery locations. The same DD application also interfaces with electronic meter registers, printers, and barcode scanners used in the delivery of fuel and service to end customers. For more information on solutions offered by Digital Dispatcher visit www.digitaldispatcher.com.

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