Tanks for the Memories

Booth Transport went in search of an asset tracking and monitoring solution under the criteria it was both cost-effective and reliable. They found it through ORBCOMM.

Founded with a solo vehicle carrying wine and farm goods south of Adelaide in 1936, Booth Transport is now a leading carrier of bulk food, container transport and logistics.

Today the business runs a fleet of nearly 200 commercial vehicles nationwide with depots in every state.

The long-standing company is run by the third generation of the Booth family and has been active in dairy transport since the 1990s when it diversified the business with the purchase of a Deniliquin-based milk transport company with 15 tankers.

Operations have since grown considerably and entails linehaul tankers of milk and dairy products moving up and down the east coast of Australia in addition to the handling of interstate containers from the port in Launceston to Melbourne and also from Melbourne via rail into Perth.

As it continues to grow regardless of economic conditions the iconic company also transports dangerous goods with the mixed fleet heavily populated by the Kenworth brand although most major truck OEMs are represented in some capacity. It recently added six new Kenworth T659s to its road transport fleet.

Active for many years in new developments and technology related to commercial vehicle transport, Booth Transport sought a better solution for handling temperature-sensitive freight and after a fact-finding mission, conducted by General Manager Mitchell Booth in North America in 2016, found it.

Mitchell was after a technology solution with extra functionality suitable for multiple asset classes that would be finely tuned to meet customer needs.

In order to facilitate complete visibility across its dairy tankers to improve handling and transportation methods he turned to New Jersey industrial Internet of Things specialist ORBCOMM, a foremost provider in solutions that connect businesses to their assets.

ORBCOMM hardware allows for wireless connectivity through a single, unified cloud-based analytics platform developed to optimise fleet management. This has enabled asset tracking across Booth Transport’s fleet of ISO tanks, road tankers and commercial chassis.

IT Manager, Deanna Booth is part of the fourth generation of the family now leading the way at the company. A film production graduate, who had studied to be a director, she found her way back to the family business after she was engaged to make some instructional videos for customers.

In the IT department, she works on application and software development which brings her into close contact with ORBCOMM.

“We work alongside ORBCOMM especially with the integration of our tracking for our own application,” she says. “A big key for us was that they offered an extra or second serial port and we could plug in a temperature probe.”

This detail was no less important for the reason the ISO operations include milk and cream in tankers making it critical that the temperature and whereabouts are tracked with real-time precision.

No matter if the assets are in transit or at the depot, Deanna can access live and scheduled updates and know which of these are empty or loaded enabling improved turnaround times and better yard management while also saving the drivers, where it is applicable, time and fuel.

The advanced asset monitoring solution being used by Booth Transport features a high-sensitivity solar panel and includes some units with a wired temperature sensor.

“The device itself doesn’t require you to plug into the power. So there’s no leaching off the truck and trailer,” Deanna explains. “It basically allows you to switch it on, put in the temperature probe on the tanker and away we go.”

Booth Transport had previously deployed tracking devices on its fleet. ORBCOMM’s solution, however, proved more stable than past products adding greater value for the scale of what was required across the fleet.

“We’re getting a consistency in terms of the devices not disappearing or turning off, for example, the power breaking down,” says Deanna.

“We’ve used solutions in the past where you have to feed the power from the truck or the trailer. It just doesn’t work. ORBCOMM’s solution with the solar panel is great because it literally is a device that you stick on the trailer. I could go and stick it on my car right now and I’d be able to track its path. That’s the beauty of it.”

Booth Transport at present has installed 226 of the ORBCOMM devices into its dairy transport division. The ORBCOMM devices can be installed externally on assets in about ten minutes, even when the asset is loaded, making Booth Transport’s deployments quick and efficient with minimal disruption to their operations.

“The temperature probe goes into a metal cylinder device so it isn’t fit directly into the product,” says Deanna. “From there it is activated and a reading can be taken almost immediately.”

While the asset tracking and temperature probes are the two key areas of focus, Deanna is looking at expanding it to kilometre-monitoring with Conor Halloran, ORBCOMM Account Manager, to get a better handle on how the company can best leverage its use in operations.

“We’re currently evaluating how it will work in with our fleet to best utilise its function and how we would use that information,” she says. “We expect it will offer significant gains for us especially given what we do here.”

Booth Transport is in the midst of changing all of its tracking on its trailers to the solution because it is much easier to integrate given how their current fleet is set up. They are looking to put it against everything in the near future.

“The plan is to put them on everything,” says Deanna. “It’s definitely helped us for the better. Especially because we’re very customer committed in terms of wanting to do what we can for our customers. Partnering with ORBCOMM has allowed us to do that with our temperature tracking and asset tracking more reliably and also pretty cost-effectively. It’s not making it difficult for us to do which is great.”

Because costs aren’t preventative ORBCOMM’s asset tracking solutions are set to be installed in every one of the ten depots Booth Transport has throughout Australia

“That’s probably one of the key factors and why we’re so gung-ho about getting it all done across our fleet,” Deanna says.

ORBCOMM’s telematics solution also provides Booth Transport with the unique ability to see precise data to schedule asset maintenance, inspections and time elapsed for increased utilisation and performance.

In addition to simplifying the tracking and monitoring of multiple asset classes through one comprehensive view, the ORBCOMM platform creates an intelligent logistics environment that has also helped Booth Transport grow its customer portfolio and retain business in the highly competitive dairy and bulk liquids sector.

“It gives us a leg up in the game because we can now provide this vital information with up-to-date reports on the product while it is in transit. The customer might not necessarily think they need to have the functionality of accessing this information but it’s something they end up wanting,” she says.

“Technology is evolving and we’re trying to move with it and that means if we can be on top of it all we can provide the best service for our customers.”

Should they see any deviations in the temperatures they are monitoring, Booth Transport can use the ORBCOMM software to investigate the factors that are the likely cause including prior events, changes in the environment and how it was loaded.

“The great thing this solution does is provide us with the knowledge of an exact temperature measurement from the moment a tanker is loaded,” Deanna says. “You can also work out issues with equipment just from that failure which is great. It helps us as much as it helps the customers.”

Customers are supplied with all of this information in reports so they, in turn, have full disclosure regarding the condition of their product the entire time it is in transit.

“That way everyone has greater visibility,” Deanna adds. “It increases trust.”

Deanna makes mention it wasn’t that long ago that customers had an estimated time of when they could expect a truck to deliver their product.

“If you think back 20 odd years ago a truck would leave a depot with a trailer and they wouldn’t see it again until it completed the round trip or arrived at the next depot. Now I can watch it basically travel from the depot for the entire trip.”

Deanna, whose two sisters and four cousins are also working at the company, has discovered she has a real passion for operations in the IT department.

It’s also worth noting that advances in technology are increasingly prevalent in road transport and in her case have brought her back to an industry which is itself looking to attract more female professionals.

“In IT and technology there’s so much new innovation going on it’s an exciting space to be in. Being able to build our own apps and provide that kind of information to customers through portals gives us a sense of pride. I never thought I’d be doing stuff like this in a million years but I have a real passion for it now which is great.”

She jokes, “That IT applications class I did in year 12 really paid off.”

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