A&B Courier, the leading courier and trucking company of Ontario, Canada, has built an in-house asset management application with HyperTrack’s live location tracking APIs. A&B Courier is a 39-year young logistics company with a significant delivery volume on the move on any given day. HyperTrack interviewed their Client Relations Manager, Eric Geiler, to talk about their industry-leading platform. Here are the transcribed excerpts.
What prompted you to build asset tracking through the app?
For A&B, it wasn't just about tracking the vehicles or drivers. It was about the tracking of packages and freight, that belongs to our customers, while they are in our possession.
The trigger came from our customers who contacted our office asking for a current position of their shipment – where is the freight, where is the driver, how long before it arrives? Previously, it was all done via voice communication. When voice-calls on handheld devices were no longer the safest method of communicating with drivers nor the most efficient for fleets over a certain size, A&B had to look for alternatives to find drivers’ locations without verbal interaction. That left us looking at a mobile software solution.
What are the goals with asset tracking?
We wanted to achieve two primary goals. One, get as close to real-time positioning of an asset as possible. Two, understand where that asset has been in the previous hour/day/week/month.
Today's logistics industry is held to the societal norms of now, now, now! Everyone wants immediate action and immediate response. The customer expects an answer right then and there. The faster we respond, the better off we are against our competitors. A quick response requires real-time information.
We have assets tracked every few seconds while balancing battery usage and data accuracy, all managed by the HyperTrack SDK.
For a legal firm delivering a document to the courthouse for review in a case happening within hours, the transaction is expected to complete within an allotted window of time. Through the HyperTrack API, A&B can monitor this sensitive transaction in real-time, providing the package and driver oversight that customers have come to expect.
Large manufacturers require freight shipping and receiving to either be just-in-time or appointment-based. They rely on the asset tracking solution to ensure that freight is arriving and leaving factories on time. Actual locations of asset geo-locations ensure that service is exactly as expected by our clients.
In real-estate, transactions are going online, but physical key delivery is still via courier. Imagine the anxiety of a family that has just bought a new house and wants to know the whereabouts of the keys to their new home.
An individual ordering a product online through a retailer might be okay with receiving the products within 1-3 business days. However, with the introduction of same-day delivery by major retailers and fulfillment providers, consumers now realize it's possible to receive something "now or before the end of the day." This may require a driver to leave the package unattended at the delivery location at the customer's request.
HyperTrack’s asset history with location and activity data provides the granular detail that we need to timestamp the driver's attendance to that delivery address, and where exactly he was at the delivery address. During the delivery process, A&B can also take a picture of the package as last seen at the customer location. Between the proof of delivery data and the location data provided by HyperTrack, A&B can conclusively say when and where the driver delivered the package.
How do you measure success? What are the KPIs?
Our success is measured by the success of our clients. Safe and on-time delivery of a package or freight is the best metric to measure success. We also consider dozens of more KPIs, such as total kilometers driven daily, on-time percentage, delays due to loading / offloading requirements, deadhead miles, and empty miles.
What were the challenges of building it before you discovered HyperTrack?
Before HyperTrack, we faced several challenges:
- Battery usage
- Erroneous GPS data
- Application stability (on the operations and mobile side)
The data was not accurate enough to establish a baseline for reliability and bet our business process on it.
These issues prompted us to look out for an alternate solution.
How did you find HyperTrack and what were your first impressions?
We were searching through Uber engineering blog posts regarding Mapbox, and somehow HyperTrack came up. I don't exactly remember which blog it was, but it was related to HyperTrack and Mapbox. We are users of Mapbox for mapping, and that directed me to you guys.
First impression about HyperTrack: too good to be true!
We downloaded your sample app and tried it out. We realized that at $1 per month per user, we were far exceeding that cost for our development, creating our own in-house tracking. We quickly determined our resources can be better spent developing our core transportation application, not reinventing the asset tracking wheel.
What do you like most (and least) about HyperTrack?
The onboarding simplicity. That was the first thing that caught my eye. You guys purported that this was simple, that it gets you up and going in no time at all. That was the first thing that caught my eye. And you delivered!
The second thing that caught my eye was how accurate and how granular the real-time tracking was.
And then price. It's a combination of everything.
HyperTrack is great value for money.
Everything that we liked the least, you guys have fixed for us. Everything I didn't like, I have asked, and you guys have fixed. No questions asked. There really isn't any downside to your solution, to be honest.
What does the future look like for your asset management platform?
The next step is to understand the first mile and last mile better. How long does it take to get in and out of a building? Where is the driver entering the building? Each location has different requirements and associated timelines. For example, pick up time at a first-floor multi-unit commercial building is different from a pickup on the 42nd floor of an office tower. Pickup and delivery times at large distribution warehouses differ from retailer to retailer and manufacturer to manufacturer. The driver may encounter policies like first-come-first-serve and experience wait times before being assisted. Utilizing the data to factor these variables would allow a precise ETA for pickups and deliveries. Our next step is to use captured data and factor it into our transit time pipeline.
Breaking down the granular details of the first mile and the last mile, and optimizing that is the next step in asset management.
The most important thing is to provide our clients with information at their fingertips. Going back a few years, in the '90s, Bill Gates used to talk about "information on your fingertips." That is essentially what our customers want.
Any closing remarks?
A&B Courier is the industry leader in the marketplace for what we do and achieve daily. We pride ourselves on the service we provide to our clients. Utilizing tools such as HyperTrack is core to our drivers’ and clients' success.
Competition (in Canada) ranges from the archaic paper-and-pen delivery chits in triplicate from a small company to your multinational conglomerates like FedEx and UPS. They all have different methods of handling their infrastructure and asset requirements. They all have their competitive advantages or disadvantages. For the past 39 years, A&B Courier has been determined to provide 100% satisfaction with every transaction, ensuring the best service while staying an industry leader in our region.
Asset tracking is one of the differentiators for us, the HyperTrack advantage as I call it.