Increased on-time deliveries, reduced fuel costs, paper elimination and improved operational efficiencies for 900 branches.
United Rentals is the largest equipment rental company in the world with unique logistical requirements, including 3,900 equipment types of all sizes, and drivers who return to their branches many times each day.
In order to consistently deliver the best possible customer service experience across all 900 branches, United Rentals deployed a sophisticated mobile solution called FAST (Field Automation Strategy and Technology), which incorporates dynamic scheduling and load optimization, advanced proof-of-delivery with condition reports that capture photos and integrated fleet management.
“The previous process was manual, paper-based, and relied on the dispatcher’s local knowledge,” explains Kevin Neville, director of technology and enterprise architect - logistics and field operations. Dispatchers would do their best to manually develop truck loads and route the drivers.
The primary focus was on deliveries and empty trucks would often drive by job sites where equipment was ready for pickup. “This resulted in extra trips to retrieve equipment, plus a delay in the ability to get this equipment back in to rent again,” he adds. In addition, trucks would often pass each other on the roadway, when they could have been consolidating trips on one truck.
Drivers were given paper contracts to collect customer signatures as proof of delivery and physical document management associated with storing on site and archiving off site. Drivers used the contracts to determine the address of the delivery.
Information to close contracts (fuel used, meter reading, damage, etc.) was recorded on paper and keyed into ERP by administrative staff. The overall result was an inefficient dispatching environment, as drivers and dispatchers were in constant telephone communication.
United Rentals wanted to introduce dynamic scheduling technology. It worked with Apacheta Corporation, Barcoding Inc., Intergis/Telogis, Motorola Solutions, Xata, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Bell Canada and Telus Mobility to create FAST.
As a result, United Rentals is the first in its industry to implement a fully-integrated solution, which has resulted in increased on-time deliveries, reduced fuel costs, paper elimination and improved operational efficiencies. “Dynamic scheduling of equipment of all shapes and sizes to optimize loads and routes increases on-time arrivals and maximizes equipment utilization,” reports Neville. “Internal and mobile sales representatives now have real-time access via a private cloud to determine delivery time window availability, and are able to set customer expectations and thus improve customer satisfaction.”
Another benefit is the elimination of unsafe driver distractions via non-verbal wireless communication. “The technology provides visibility into driver and dispatch productivity and increases staffing flexibility as dispatchers rely on the FAST system, rather than having to rely on local knowledge,” he adds.