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Northwest Food Products Transportation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O'Lakes. NFPT transports over seven million pounds of milk and finished dairy products daily for Land O'Lakes and a host of other dairy companies. The firm manages its own private fleet of nearly 200 tanker trucks, a contract fleet of an additional 300 trucks, and the Land O'Lakes private fleet of nearly 1,700 trucks.
In the 1990s, driven by the need to increase fuel economy and reduce DOT violations related primarily to logging, NFPT decided to invest in fleet management software. "Until then, our process was entirely paper based," says Roger Nordtvedt, general manager of NFPT. "Drivers spent about an hour a day on paperwork, including logging, and then at the end of each day, administrative staff spent about one more hour per truck entering all the data into a central database. It was very time consuming, and we found that often the logs were incomplete or inaccurate. During DOT audits, we regularly had multiple logging violations. We knew we had to make a change."
Nordtvedt and his team evaluated several fleet management vendors, including Cadec Global. Their top criteria for a solution were:
• Ease of use for drivers-most of whom had never seen or used a computer before
• Ease of use for office staff.
"Cadec won the evaluation, hands down," says Nordtvedt. "Its ease of use was unmatched by any other vendor. The Cadec on-board computer uses yes or no questions to guide drivers through the process of logging trips, recording pickups and deliveries, and the like. It has a very clean and simple interface that masks all the complexity and sophistication in the software. Our drivers loved it."
According to Nordtvedt, the Cadec people also stood out. "The Cadec team was friendly and helpful," he says. "It was clear that they wanted to work side by side with us, and be part of the solution. We felt a great rapport with Cadec."
Today, NFPT has Cadec on-board computers (OBCs) installed in all of the trucks in its private and contract fleets, and the process is essentially paperless (though U.S. dairy regulations require paper backups in some areas). Each truck is equipped with GPS capabilities that use coordinates to identify which stop a driver is at-the OBC prompts them with, for example, "Are you at John Smith's farm?" The driver need only answer yes or no, and the electronic log is updated. "Cadec requires very little driver keying," explains Nordtvedt.
The driver then collects the raw milk, logging the weight into the OBC. The data is automatically transmitted back to a central database at NFPT. The information is checked for accuracy, and then moved into the Land O'Lakes milk producer information system (MPIS). This process allows NFPT and Land O'Lakes to use data automatically collected from the trucks to pay patrons and suppliers electronically.
When the truck leaves a supplier's location, the OBC updates the log once again, and the process starts over at the next stop. Cadec also allows NFPT's transportation management team to automatically track en-route data such as mileage (used as the basis to pay drivers), sudden decelerations, over-RPM speed, fuel economy and off-route driving.
According to Nordtvedt, one of the greatest cost savings achieved from its Cadec investment has been in the area of fuel economy. "With our Cadec software, we were able to monitor their use of progressive shifting, a driving technique that can help save fuel by ensuring that trucks are running at lower RPMs. Drivers that didn't have a good handle on the technique were brought in for training," he explains.
Increasing fuel efficiency by just one-tenth of a mile saves NFPT $100,000 annually, says Nordtvedt. As the price of fuel continues to climb, the savings are going to be even greater.
"Through monitoring with Cadec, we were able to increase fuel usage by a half-mile per gallon, saving $500,000 in fuel in the first year alone. That savings alone more than paid for our investment in Cadec."
Maintenance costs also went down by 4.5 cents a mile. "By reducing sudden decels and increasing use of progressive shifting, we had far fewer brake jobs on our hands," says Nordtvedt.
Cadec has also helped NFPT improve on DOT compliance. During its first post-implementation DOT audit, NFPT was violation-free. "Cadec's impact on the quality of our logs was immediate," Nordtvedt says.
NFPT's use of Cadec has helped the company attract new business for its for-hire fleet business. "Our ability to electronically provide supplier data to our customers, so they can pay electronically-like Land O'Lakes does-is unique in the dairy industry," says Nordtvedt. "It's helped us land new customers like DFA, DMS, Fleur-de-Lait and Foremost Farms USA."
Next up for NFPT: Upgrading its Cadec software to the new PowerVue platform, the trucking industry's first service-oriented architecture-based, hosted fleet management solution. NFPT worked with Cadec on extensive beta testing of PowerVue, and played an integral role in helping to shape key features in the product.
"We've really stretched the boundaries with Cadec over the years," says Nordtvedt. "Cadec has responded well and grown with us. Our gut feeling about Cadec back when we started working together - that they would be a good partner - has proven to be true. Cadec has been very responsive to our needs, and has become an integral part of our business. Their technology continues to be the best on the market. If I could do it all over again, I would absolutely pick Cadec again."
Cadec Global, www.cadec.com
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