Innovative software streamlines transport business
Technology has transformed the way Hurunui Transport owner Jon Thomson runs his Amberley-based business.
“In the fourteen years I’ve owned the business, improvements in technology have made a huge difference to the way we raise, distribute and monitor all of our jobs.”
Jon and his team use a piece of software called MyTrucking, which is linked to their invoicing system Xero, and allows them to manage jobs from start to finish.
“It’s basically like an online diary and is linked to Xero. The advantage is that everything is captured online and we’re not having to rely on drivers to fill out a docket.
“I can preload jobs and it does away with the traditional paper diary. It’s much more efficient – nothing gets lost and everything flows more smoothly.”
Jon and his team of three meet at the beginning of each week to discuss deliveries for the week, which include general cartage and fertiliser covering a wide area from Timaru and Blenheim.
“We go through the fertiliser orders and what’s come through in the emails and then put a plan together, so everyone knows what’s going on and what’s expected,” Jon says.
“The idea is that if everyone knows what’s going on, say if I slip up, one of the drivers might think ‘I can do that on the way’,” he adds.
Following up the weekly meeting with emails allows Jon’s drivers to refer to the task list later in the week to ensure they’re on track with their jobs.
“They need to be able to go back to an email or a text or whatever to see what’s going on and double check so we’re not having stuff ups.”
Once a job is completed, Jon’s office manager marks it against My Trucking and that creates an invoice which is sent to the accountant.
“Our accountant is in Southland so it’s emails, emails, emails with him. It’s vital. My Trucking has streamlined the job process and allows me to be more hands-on with the business.
“It enables me to offload more of the office work. I used to be in the office every night, which I hate anytime let alone at night. I like to be out and about and keeping an eye on things,” he says.
Mobile technologies like smart phones have also enabled Jon to manage jobs when he’s on the go via phone, email and text message, saving time and making processes efficient.
“You’re dealing with things as they go, rather than saying ‘I will get onto that’, I can sort something out while I’m on the fly, which is definitely a good thing.
“It makes you more accessible and it definitely makes sorting out jobs easy.”
Modern GPS systems in fertiliser spreaders also make the business more efficient, sending messages directly to the office.
“Over the last three years we’ve had lots of new rules coming in for farmers, so GPS technology allows us to help clients meet the fertiliser requirements through proof of placement. This is becoming essential.”
“With this new technology, I can send a job out and the driver sends a job back once it’s completed and I can have a look at it and make sure it’s done right.”
Jon still relies on the copper network for his internet but hopes high speed internet will reach his office soon to speed things up.
“It’s not too bad but we do have a few issues with the speed of uploading data. We don’t have broadband yet. It will make a huge difference when it’s available.”
Jon says one of the biggest issues facing the transport industry is the aging workforce. He has just hired a 17-year-old female truck driver for the second season in a row and describes her as a whizz with both the driving and technical aspects of the role.
“Younger people take to technology quickly because they have grown up with it. It’s great to have diversity in the industry and we need more young people on board.
“I think we’ll see more technology being used in the transport industry and it’s going to help us streamline everything and keep improving our efficiency.”