Southeastern Freight Lines, a regional less-than-truckload (LTL) services provider, is now offering its customers estimated times of delivery (ETDs). The carrier said it can estimate the delivery of a shipment within a two-hour window, and provide the information to customers via the internet, PDAs and mobile phones. Previously, customers could visit reports online to see that a shipment was out for delivery, but had to call the service center for an estimate of when the shipment would be delivered. This usually amounted to a "guesstimate," based on experience, of when the driver would be in the area, Southeastern said. The new ETD feature is supported by information-technology investments made by the carrier over the past decade. Southeastern's Synergy Routing System designs the most efficient route for freight delivery, taking into account customer addresses, appointment times and the proportion of right to left turns. A window of plus or minus one hour is added to the computed delivery time to allow for traffic or customer delays. Once the window of time is established, Southeastern's Laser Dispatch System provides real-time data communications which show the actual route start time, along with the arrival and departure times at each customer stop. The information corrects the original schedule if necessary. If a delay impacts the schedule outside the two-hour window, the system automatically adjusts the times for subsequent deliveries accordingly. The ETD is then displayed on the status report, viewable by the customer and service-center associates.
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