For TLD Logistics Services, Asset Tracking Means Knowing Where Everything Is – Not Hoping to Find It
When founded as L and D Transportation Services Inc. in 1980, the company’s trucks primarily hauled automotive parts for Toyota throughout the country. Today, it still supports the carmaker by delivering bumpers, instrument panels, suspensions and other parts to manufacturing locations such as the Corolla plant in Blue Springs, Miss., and the Tundra and Tacoma facility in San Antonio, Texas. And it’s expanded its services from the old days as well, to oversee shipments of paper and charcoal, and slabs of ham and bacon packed inside its refrigerated vans.
After getting acquired by Toyota Tsusho America Inc. (TAI) in November 2008, what is now called TLD Logistics Services Inc. (TLD) in Knoxille, Tenn., employs 515 people and owns more than 450 tractors. Its slogan, “G-Value with You,” refers to TLD’s “four G” defining qualities: Global (expanding operations), glowing (healthy enthusiasm and passion), generating (continually inventing new business) and green (a commitment to the environment).
In May, the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) named TLD as one of the “Best Fleets to Drive For” in the nation for the fourth year in a row – an honor which TLD qualified for by earning an average driver satisfaction rate of at least 91 percent and turnover of less than 35 percent. The turnover rate remains especially impressive, given that the rate for large fleets averaged 89 percent in 2018. Always looking to improve what it does for drivers, TLD added this year 30 cash awards for going “above and beyond” during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and offers service checks on employees’ personal vehicles as part of its maintenance program.
“When it comes to our people, we take pride in setting ourselves apart,” says John Hutton, Senior Operations Manager at TLD. “We work hard to keep them with us for a long time.”
Tracking Tool Lends Visibility during Tech Transition
The company is also committed to its relationship to SkyBitz, having ordered and installed 600 GXT 3000 units. The trailer tracking technology enables customers to achieve total asset visibility, improved security, lower operating and capital expenses and enhanced customer service. This has greatly helped during a time of transition for TLD, as the company is implementing a new Transportation Management System (TMS). “Without SkyBitz, if a driver inputs the wrong trailer number into our TMS, we’d have no idea where the trailer ended up,” Hutton says. “But with trailer tracking, we can have wrong numbers inputted into the system, and still know where all the trailers are.”
In addition, TLD is conducting a widescale replacement program that involves the selling of 120 older trailers. In certain cases, mistakes are made and one of the trailers ends up in a location that dispatch operations didn’t designate. “It may have had to go to Lebanon, Tenn., but ended up in Mississippi,” Hutton says. “So, once we sell one of these older trailers, we often depend upon SkyBitz, so we can find it and get it over to its new owner.”
Overall, SkyBitz helps TLD run its business much more profitably, with significant savings in personnel and fuel expenses. “It’s like having an eye in the sky,” Hutton says. “If a customer needs to transport inventory, but calls us to say ‘We don’t have an empty trailer on our site for this job,’ we use SkyBitz to search what we have on their yards to see if that is actually the case. They may have an empty one in a yard that they haven’t looked in yet. So we will locate those.”
Without this information, TLD would have to send a driver out to the customer to look for an empty trailer – which is no longer necessary. “The location could be 100 miles away,” Hutton says. “When you’re only getting 8 mpg while taking into consideration the drivers’ time, that considerably inflates our expenses. Today, we send drivers out and they know what they’re going to find there, instead of hoping they find what they need there.”
Future Looks Bright – Thanks to Solar and Outstanding Customer Service
As for what’s ahead, TLD is looking forward to switching its current SkyBitz units with the SkyBitz solar-powered Falcon Series GXT5000. “They’re easy to operate,” Hutton says, “and they’re easy to install. You just mount them on top of the trailer and there’s no major wiring involved. They’re working out just great for us.”
Outstanding customer service also keeps TLD committed to SkyBitz for, well, the long haul.
“They provide the best customer service that we could ever hope for,” Hutton says. “Their representatives come out personally to visit with us, and they are very knowledgeable about the product and capable of answering our questions. And if something comes up on the technical side that they can’t answer, they immediately contact SkyBitz technicians who can. There are some companies which promise you the moon to get you to buy their products, and then they disappear. That’s not the case with the people at SkyBitz – they’re there for you whenever you need them.”