VAI Teams With Forward Thinking For GPS Truck Tracking
November 30, 2016 Dan Burger
Midsize manufacturers and distributors have unique requirements when it comes to delivering their products to market. Automation and integration of business processes are playing a big role in achieving higher efficiency. For example, there was a time when GPS tracking gathered truck location and activity data for only the largest freight hauling specialists. But now there are small and midsize manufacturers and distributors that can track their own fleets, adding a customer feature that improves satisfaction rates and provides analytics that increase efficiencies.
VAI, a successful mid-market ERP software developer with IBM midrange customers in the fields of distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors, recognized an advantageous fusion of ERP and GPS technology, so it added real-time tracking and fleet management to its S2K suite through a partnership with Forward Thinking Systems.
Forward Thinking provides GPS tracking for accurate truck location detection as well as reporting metrics related to driver performance and driver activity alerts. The software’s “breadcrumb trail” capability removes much of the uncertainty that plagues product tracking. The drivers’ performance metrics justify rewards for drivers with optimal driving patterns. The activity alerts, via email or SMS, vehicle maintenance requirements, pending vehicle registration expirations, and changes to the order of scheduled stops.
Forward Thinking is cloud-based software that runs on a unit that plugs into the diagnostics port that’s built into delivery trucks (and every modern vehicle). The software can be configured to monitor several options: vehicle location, speed, idle time, temperature inside the cargo area of the truck, and other add-ons. The standard system includes only the GPS tracking, and pricing begins at $30 per truck per month for GPS only.
Companies will be introduced to Forward Thinking through VAI, but contracts will be signed with Forward Thinking.
“The integration with Forward Thinking results in added functionality used by people managing back office procedures,” says Joe Scioscia, vice president of sales at VAI. “It helps VAI S2K Enterprise customers track their vehicles and driver activity in real-time from when a product is picked up to when it is delivered.”
The route manager screen on VAI’s S2K ERP software displays the GPS truck location information and any of the add-on performance monitoring features. REST-based Web Services at the API level are used for the communication piece.
Scioscia predicts the Forward Thinking capabilities will be important for manufacturers and distributors in the food industry because of food safety and regulatory compliance issues that require products be kept within specific temperature ranges while being delivered and monitoring the length of time it takes to make a delivery is required.
“There’s a strong business case for companies that have their own delivery fleet,” Scioscia says. “But overall, monitoring vehicles leads to greater efficiencies, regardless of the industry. Companies specializing in hard goods can realize new savings, too.”
Food companies are more likely to own their own truck fleets because they need to control and monitor their shipping more closely. Company-owned trucks are also more common among local distributors than they are for regional or national distribution companies.
In addition to the integration with Forward Thinking, VAI offers several mobile applications that integrate with its S2K ERP software. The proof of delivery app has the capability to direct truck drivers to the correct address, scan products taken off the truck, and capture signatures that verify deliveries. Other mobile apps have been developed to aid order processing, route sales, and warehouse management.
VAI is several years into a browser-based initiative that is modernizing its green-screen applications and emphasizing mobile capabilities. CEO Bob Vormittag has said his company will continue to roll out Web-based products that run on mobile devices. Complete automation of the enterprise is Vormittag’s stated objective. “Our goal is to help customers maintain maximum efficiencies throughout the organization and utilize the power of the Web and mobility to expand their business operations,” he says.