A Need For A More Streamlined Digital Workflow
For Denver-based Western Distributing Transportation Co., speeding up delivery paperwork with a mobile app that allows drivers to send documents straight from the road to the back office sounded like a potential game-changer — that is, if the technology worked. The carrier turned to Vector’s app frustrated with another provider’s unreliable document scans, which stunted the potential of technology that promised to slash paperwork processing time and costs. Now, after a smooth transition to the Vector app, Western Distributing is seeing the benefits of a more streamlined digital workflow, including drivers happy with the easy-to-use solution.
As a family-owned business, Western Distributing depends on consistency and reliability in the delivery workflow to efficiently process orders and invoice customers. While offline paperwork is inherently slow, a previous technology provider’s mobile app only compounded the problem by delivering inconsistent image scanning. Particularly for drivers with older phones, unpredictable scans that sometimes proved too dark or blurry to read meant the company still wasn’t able to invoice customers until image problems were resolved. Though Western Distributing was trying to invest in technology with the promise to deliver concrete reductions in time and money spent processing orders, major roadblocks remained.
To address these challenges, Western sought to:
• Reduce time between load delivery and customer invoicing
• Ensure reliability of digital document scanning technology
• Integrate document scanning with existing TMS
Since May of 2017, Western Distributing has implemented Vector with some 145 drivers, including individuals with older cell phones who struggled in the past with less precise document scanning apps. With 90 percent of all documents now either photographed by drivers on the road or scanned by back-office associates, the company is already saving time and money. The payback will ultimately be even bigger, Western Distributing Information Technology Manager Jeff Stevens predicts, once more drivers start using Vector.
A priority in the Vector rollout with Western Distributing was ease of use for drivers. So far, Stevens said, feedback has been positive. The back office is happy too, he said, since drivers can tag and categorize documents like bills of lading as they photograph them, eliminating the previously-required extra steps of scanning and indexing hard copies. “This looked like the better option,” Stevens said of Vector, compared to other logistics technology tools on the market. “We’ve been pleased with it.”
I love it. It’s easy to use, and it’s easy to learn. I just typed in the trip information, took pictures of the document, and sent them off.
For Iowa-based truck driver Stella Rodriguez, the everyday impacts of Vector’ digital imaging technology came to life as she stared down an early deadline ahead of a holiday weekend. While old-school paperwork or touchy technology products she’d tried in the past had created slowdowns, she said Vector’ more user-friendly process allowed her to meet the deadline. The key: simplicity.
Rodriguez reports that she was able to work within the time constraints because of a three-step process of typing in trip information, taking cell phone pictures of relevant documents, and sending scanned documents back to Western Distributing through the all-in-one Vector app. “It’s easy to use and it’s easy to learn,” she said, a shift from other scanning services she’s tried. “Now I don’t have to constantly retake photos.”
In addition to the benefits of more advanced document scanning technology, Stevens said Western Distributing also values the ease of integration with Synergize, Western Distributing’s imaging system, which allows documents to transmit directly into their transportation management system, TMWSuite. “The transition was pretty seamless,” Stevens said.