The rapid growth of AVID Ink, one of the world’s leading sublimation print companies, came with the challenges of managing a work force of drivers making as many as 60 stops per day. By implementing the right field services technology, AVID Ink mastered the challenge, successfully improving company efficiency by 30 percent. They reduced overtime, improved vehicle maintenance and realized significant fuel savings as a result of better routing, scheduling and planning. Drivers became better organized, which allowed them to boost their on-time delivery performance. The company’s on-time record grew to 99 percent, while its completion rate reached 98 percent. The field services technology they chose to accomplish these goals was Fleet Management from Trimble.
Founded in 1997 by Robert D. Davis, AVID Ink started in the action sports industry by providing sublimation on snowboards and wakeboards. At the time, AVID had just one transfer machine and sourced sublimation paper from East Coast suppliers. Those early days were challenging, with the company having to contend with excessively long lead times for deliveries and high costs for materials.
Davis was determined to change the industry and raise quality standards, so he established AVID as a full-service sublimation company with the goal of providing quality service with integrity. The strategy paid off and today AVID is recognized as one of the world’s leading sublimation printing companies, with a library of more than 35,000 open-line designs, and printing and production facilities to accommodate a wide range of runs.
Like most fast-growing companies, the more AVID grew, the more it needed to increase scheduling efficiency and enhance worker productivity to meet its goals of high value and high quality.
“As we grew, it became harder and harder to stay agile, and we want to be as agile as possible,” Kevin Williams, sourcing and special projects director, said.
AVID chose Fleet Management from Trimble to track, monitor and optimize the routing and scheduling of AVID’s fleet of vehicles. It is integrated with a workforce management solution, Work Management, from Trimble that enhances worker efficiency and productivity by providing visibility into work schedules and mobile worker activities. Work Management helps companies assign in-day jobs based on real-time schedule status, which reduces distance traveled and overtime, improves customer satisfaction and increases jobs completed per day.
Both solutions rely on in-vehicle devices to transmit real-time and diagnostic data to the dispatch center, where it is used for planning and scheduling. AVID has equipped its vehicles with the hardware which uses GPS and wireless communications to collect location and diagnostic information.
“We had reached 1,500 pickups a month,” Williams said. “But it was very chaotic. Drivers would make notes and then email or phone to communicate their status. Sixty percent of the deliveries were unscheduled, and drivers were using Excel spreadsheets to coordinate more than 60 stops each day. We knew we needed to ensure that deliveries were more efficient and on time.”
A fast-paced business
The typical day at AVID is very fast-paced according to Beto Jay, AVID’s delivery supervisor. At 4:00 p.m. each day, drivers get a list of deliveries that must be completed within 24 hours.
“We pride ourselves on quality and a quick turnaround. Everything falls on shipping, so efficiency is extremely critical,” Jay said.
Before implementing Work Management, drivers had to scramble and rely on memory to meet their delivery deadlines. Now, a central dashboard helps with scheduling and monitoring activities throughout the day. Jay takes advantage of the data collected by Fleet Management and Work Management’s planning capabilities to optimize routing and sequence deliveries according to geography and driver locations. When drivers arrive in the morning to load their vans, they don’t have to spend time on routing, since it’s already been set for them. They just get in their vehicles and go.
“Now we can tell customers when we’ll be there, and we’re there when we say we will be. If a customer wants something out of the ordinary, workforce management lets us know if it’s possible. It tells us if we can meet a 6:00 p.m. deadline,” Jay said. Since the implementation, AVID has not missed a delivery or pickup.
“It took a while for the culture to let go of the old way and embrace work management, but now it’s our tool of choice. It allows us to take more jobs per day, and if there is an issue with a task, we’re able to reassign it from one driver to another. We also can monitor our drivers’ progress through the day and schedule new pickups as needed,” he said.
The workforce management solution has an in-day advisor intelligent feature that alerts Jay when a delivery is taking longer than projected or if a driver is ahead of schedule. “We allow 15 minutes for a pickup, and if we see that 15 minutes has passed and the driver is still on site, we can call and find out why. Sometimes the customer just isn’t ready,” he said. If, on the other hand, a driver is ahead of schedule, Jay can assign the driver another task to ensure a full day of work.
The flow of information between drivers and dispatch makes it easy to adjust schedules and reassign work to avoid missing pickups and delaying deliveries. Without workforce management, it was nearly impossible to track each driver’s progress because “we were blind to what they were doing,” Jay said.
Work Management also accounts for customers’ business hours when planning routes. “This is a big issue for us since our technicians start early in the morning, and we don’t want them to waste trips from not being able to access a location that has not yet opened,” Jay said.
A task screen in the workforce management console validates delivery addresses, preventing drivers from wasting time looking for the right address or traveling to the wrong location.
“There are mandatory fields for driver information, which reduces driver errors,” Jay said. “These fields include the contact’s phone number, address, closing time, and if the package is COD and the driver needs to pick up payment. This information goes directly to the driver through Work Management.”
On the vehicle maintenance side, diagnostic data collected by in-vehicle devices helps prevent problems that could put a vehicle out of commission for a day or more. Scheduled maintenance alerts issued by the Fleet Management software help keep vehicles running smoothly and safely.
AVID’s field operations have improved significantly as a result of the Fleet Management and Work Management solutions. “The company is now 30 percent more efficient,” Jay said. “We’ve never missed a stop because the driver no longer has to rely on his memory to know where to go.”
The company has reduced overtime, improved vehicle maintenance and realized significant fuel savings as a result of better routing, scheduling and planning. Drivers now are better organized, which allows them to boost their on-time delivery performance. The company’s on-time record currently is 99 percent, while its completion rate has reached 98 percent.
Besides improving operations, AVID has added value by integrating the Trimble solutions with third-party software to produce further efficiencies. In one case, AVID had trouble with integration and sought help from Trimble.
“Their technical staff called the third-party company to learn about the interface. The problems were on our end and how we set up the software, but they helped us troubleshoot and fix it,” Jay said. “We’re growing very rapidly and one of the most significant successes we’ve had is implementing the right field service technology to support our growth.”