It is okay for the larger trucking operators to have a department in the business which deals purely with the technology involved in running the business. The small to medium sector of the trucking industry is probably the one which finds the increasing complexity of compliance and business systems most onerous.
For the small operator, there is not enough activity in the business to justify a specialist in this area. This is where some smart thinkers in the trucking game in Australia are starting to come to the fore, with smart ideas which are designed to make the small operator’s life just a little easier.
Arrow Logistics uses a simple platform able to be accessed on a mobile phone which keeps all of the people involved in bulk grain supply chain informed about what loads are available to be transported, what trucks are available to do that load and where the product has to be delivered.
The genesis of the Arrow Logistics operation begins with Ian Forster working as a barman in a pub in Toowoomba. A friend of his from Clifton asked him to help out with his transport business.
“I ended up learning the trade of how to organise trucks,” says Ian. “He always said to me, don’t ever get your truck license. He wanted me to just focus on organising and to do what I was good at. If you start driving, you will start going on trips and then you will get distracted.
“Over the years we have bought two AB-triples and a couple of sets of road train trailers, I just don’t know how to use them that’s all. When I was 18, I was advised that I should always look for someone who is better than me at something. I always knew that I would be in my own business eventually.”
The operation for which Ian was working in Clifton began getting into financial difficulties and Ian moved on to a transport operation in Millmerran, doing the same job and organising the transport. This was his first experience with building up a sub contractor base for a transport operation. Unfortunately, the drought in 2010 hit them hard and Ian was made redundant.
“I was left with the decision as to whether I would go and work for someone else or have a crack at this, ” says Ian. “I had got to know a few owner drivers by this time and I had spent a good deal of time in the field by then. So, I approached a few of them and asked them, if I found them some work would they come and work for me, they said yes.
“I just focused on helping four trucks to begin with and they sort of became my trucks, without me owning them. I just worked in my backyard, with a phone, a printer and a computer, and worked seven days a week for about two years.”
The business concentrated solely on just moving grain and fertiliser. He worked with fertiliser companies, grain traders and larger transport companies. After two years without a break, Ian decided to expand and bring a few people on board to help run the business. He took on a coordinator, who still works for him in the same role.
Once the load is allocated, the driver of the truck receives all of the details about the load through the app on their phone. It is then up to them to make the appropriate phone calls from within the app, pick up and deliver the load and take a photograph of the weigh-bridge dockets, using the app.
The allocation data is loaded directly up onto the Arrow website, then Ian’s team look at the details and approve it. Once the job is approved, the client and the transport company can also see the load on the website. Then both the sender and the carrier are sent the appropriate paperwork.
“There are three of us, full-time, sitting in our office in Toowoomba,” says Ian Forster. “There are also five trucks out on the road with Arrow Logistic’s paintwork on them. When I am talking to people and tell them that we are Arrow, they are surprised when I say that we only own two trucks. They swear we have 20, from the amount they have seen.”