|machine that x-rays
truck and trailer.
High tech chips
Twelve of Hanson's trucks are equipped with Qualcomm's Q-Tracs satellite systems that enable the driver and dispatcher to communicate via text messaging when radio or cell service is not available. The system also allows dispatch to track the exact location of each truck on a given route. The initial cost of the system runs around $6,000 per truck, but Steve says that increased communication is well worth the expense. "One key to good service is having good communication between out dispatch and our drivers," Steve says.
Hanson Trucking is not afraid to embrace new technologies. Tony Friar works as the company's full-time Management Information Systems manager - a fancy term for, in Friar's own words, "computer geek." Friar worked to develop a custom database, which they use to track loads and execute all of their billing and payroll. He is currently helping to create a new program that will keep track of drivers logs based on the new hours of service rules for both Canada and the U.S.
"You can't buy a canned package that is as diversified as our business. We have so many mills, with each one having their own product, and the possibility of that haul being paid up to four different ways depending on its origin and destination, that the database had to be customized from the ground up," Friar says. "We are currently in the process of updating and our new database is going to be based on Microsoft SQL server and Windows 2003 for small business.
| They have a really nice
inclusive package for a reasonable price."
Soon the parts inventory will be cataloged and tracked by computer. Freightliner of Missoula is in the process of installing a bar coding system that will allow mechanics to scan each part much like in the check out line at the grocery store. With this data they will know when to reorder and can also compare prices. Work logs and maintenance information is already stored electronically.
Steve says that the business couldn't exist without the electronic world that we live in today. The main goal behind building their own data-base, he adds, was to be able to quickly and accurately compare income and expenses and know what adjustments they need to make.
"You can't keep track of things on paper anymore and Excel spreadsheet doesn't quite cut it. I can't very well sit down with a customer and talk about prices without something to back it up. You have to be able to justify every penny," Steve says. "The more information we can enter into the system, the more information I can get back."
Friar built all of the computers used in the office and networked them so that people with the proper passwords have access to the information on each hard drive. The convenience gives Steve more time to spend on customer relations and finding new jobs.
"I don't want to spend half my day walking around asking people questions if I can get the information while I am sitting here at my own desk. If a customer call me to ask for information, and it takes