ADD Systems (Flanders, N.J.) and Suburban Propane, L.P (Whippany, N.J.), have announced the completion of a rollout of more than 900 Raven units in 134 Suburban Propane customer service centers across the country. RAVEN® (Remote Access Vehicle Extended Network) is a handheld computer used by propane, heating oil and wholesale distribution companies to automate delivery information and billing, Suburban Propane has had handheld units in their trucks tied to electronic registers since the late nineties, In September of 2010, Neil Scanlon, vice president of Information Services, indicated they would need to pursue a different direction if they were going to achieve the necessary improvements and efficiencies that were so critical to their business plan, “The existing technology had outlasted its useful life,”
ADD Systems, Suburban Propane’s long time provider of back office software, was approached and agreed to take on the challenge to design, develop and deploy the enhancements using ADD System’s existing RAVEN product. In October of 201 0 a successful pilot was conducted in their Augusta, New Jersey customer service center using the out-of-box functionality offered with Raven. In March of 2011, ADD Systems completed necessary development, which included nearly a decade of Suburban Propane specific enhancements developed in the old solution, That same month Suburban initiated a fully functional pilot with RAVEN at their Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Millsboro, Delaware locations, After successfully running for two weeks, the team received the green light to move ahead with full deployment.
Due to the streamlined communication process, Suburban can now make changes, send them to all 134 customer service centers, and download those changes in 7-8 minutes a day, down from the previous transmission times of 45 – 60 minutes, RAVEN also replaced a complicated printing process for the drivers with a simple, quick solution resulting in more efficient deliveries, less driver frustration and fewer delays,
Training time has also been reduced with RAVEN, Suburban was able to provide a 30 minute training webinar for their d11vers over the Internet, eliminating costly travel to all 134 remote sites. Suburban finds that drivers quickly accept the RAVEN application and can make deliveries within a day of training. Vince Rooney, director of engineering at Suburban Propane said, “I would say that this was one of the most successful deployments that I have been involved in. The drivers that I have met were impressed with the quality of the RAVEN hardware and the user friendly functionality of the software. The fact that we provided a 30 minute webinar was certainly an acknowledgement of our drivers’ capabilities to adapt seamlessly to the RAVEN.”