CDS Transportation (City Delivery Service Inc.) of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, is a 56 year-old northeast regional carrier (Maine to Virginia) hauling paper products, retail goods, lumber, building products, and basic household goods, with Dry Van, Flat Bed & Intermodal capabilities for direct rail delivery. Eric Laubach, Operations Manager, spoke to us about their Axon Software experience.
What were some of the problems you were facing before moving to Axon Software?
We were doing all of our dispatching and all our daily operations on paper and spreadsheets. It was obviously very time consuming, and it was impossible to track equipment.
What made you first decide to work with Axon Software?
I started here about three and a half years ago, and one of my first jobs was to look into integrated dispatch software. I did a bunch of research on the internet and narrowed it down to Axon and two other companies.
As we ran through the systems, Axon just seemed the easiest and most integrated system out of the three.
Really, when we realized how the information flowed right through to the back office the moment you put it into the dispatch board, that kind of did it for us right there.
What kinds of problems have you solved using Axon Software?
I would say the biggest improvement would be the equipment cost. We’ve definitely been able to cut down on our fleet size because we’re able to utilize the fleet much better than we had in the past.
We’ve been able to cut down our trailer pool for certain customers; basically, by being able to do more with less. We’ve cut one customer’s trailer pool from 20 down to 10 and still been able to do the same volume of loads for them. And we’re still keeping up deliveries in a timely fashion.
A large portion of our fleet is leased, so we’ve cut out a lot of the lease costs. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve cut about $10,000 a month in lease costs – close to $120,000 a year.
Have you noticed any improvements with Axon Software’s driver and owner operator statements?
Yes, definitely. The owner operator statements are much more detailed than they were in the past so they can see right down to the penny what they did and how they earned it.
I would say the same goes for our drivers where, again, there was a huge time saving because everything was pretty much handwritten or had to be typed up. And now they can see what they did for the week and what they got paid for. It’s all right there on their settlement.
Has Axon Software helped improve the communications in your office?
Yes, absolutely. It’s a lot easier to work together since we’re all seeing the same thing. We’re all working off the same screens, so the Traffic Manager sees the same thing that the person in the back office sees, that billing sees, and so-on. If a driver calls and he can’t get hold of one guy and has to talk to another, we all know what to tell him.
It’s a lot easier on everybody. Instead of having just one person looking at the board for the day, pretty much anybody that walks in here can sign on and see what that person has to be doing.
Has the software helped your relationships with existing customers?
Yes, certainly. One of the biggest things that we’ve been able to do is keep track of our metrics a lot better for our major customers – as well as for our operating costs and for our overall picture too.
I generate a report that shows us how many deliveries we have for a customer per month and how many we actually delivered on time for them. We send it off to the customer on a monthly basis to show him that we’re keeping up. We’re striving for 100% on-time accuracy, of course; but it not being a perfect world, we like to hit the 98.5-99%.
I think the customers appreciate our new invoicing as well. Being able to have a clearer picture of what they’re being invoiced for helps out immensely.
How did you find your experience with the people at Axon Software?
It was excellent. They couldn’t have been any more helpful or friendly. The training was great; it was really a breeze. I think we trained for just a little bit under a week.
It was all done at our convenience, which was nice. With the other two software systems we were looking at, one was off-site, having to go train somewhere; and the other was having someone come in and conduct training, so you would have had to set time away from your desk for a few hours. That was not very convenient.
With Axon, we didn’t have to set aside four hours of our day just to go over training while everything else went on around us.
The convenience of being able to do it right at your desktop was fantastic, and the training was a breeze. I would recommend it to anyone.
Tell us about the process of moving from a basically manual system to a fully-integrated, real-time system?
The first month was a bit of a challenge, of course, as with any kind of major switch like that. Within 60 days we had a pretty good idea of what was going on, and within the first quarter we pretty much had everything worked out.
We still have questions every now and then, as I’m sure everyone does, but anything that we’ve ever run into has been solved or addressed in a very timely fashion.
I can honestly say that’s been pretty delightful.
New software can be intimidating; did you find that with Axon Software?
Not at all. Like I said, it was one of the reasons that we went with it. After going through the walk-through, it was the easiest out of any of the systems that we had looked at and not intimidating whatsoever. A couple of days of playing around with it, and you pick it up pretty easily.
Was the transition from a manual dispatch system to Axon Software difficult for you?
Honestly, we embraced it wholeheartedly. I guess in the technological age that we’re in, it was nice to be up to speed in the 21st century. With our old system we just had a whiteboard that everything had to be written out on, so going into a system like this was just fantastic.
What kind of feedback have you gotten from your accounting people about the change of systems?
They love it. It cut down on their work. The person who looks after the accounts payable does our whole trucking company payroll himself for our drivers within about three days, as compared to two people taking four or five days before.
What would you say to somebody who was considering investing in Axon Software?
I would say, ‘If you’re on the fence, hop on down and start running with it. You will appreciate it.’
Is there anything else that you might want to add about your experience with Axon Software?
The bottom line – it really does save you time. Time is the biggest factor. It does save you man-hours.
It does help out tremendously with the communication factor, since everybody is seeing the same thing no matter what part of the office you’re in.
And I think we’re a better company now for having it.