Unique Express makes inroads to a smarter freight solution

Published on 10-Jan-2011

Validated on 12 Feb 2014

"The savings and improved efficiencies we’re achieving through Omnix and IBM have, from my perspective, put this company in a front runner position in the transport management industry." - Paul Casotti, Managing Director, Unique Express

Customer:
Unique Express

Industry:
Travel & Transportation

Deployment country:
Australia

Solution:
Database Management, Smarter Planet, Dynamic Infrastructure, Leveraging Information, Linux, Openness

Smarter Planet:
Smarter Transportation

IBM Business Partner:
Omnix Pty Ltd

Overview

A member of the Unique Transport Services Group, Unique Express is widely recognised as one of Australia’s most efficient and technologically advanced transport management companies. The company focuses on the Perth-Brisbane run and, where its competitors typically provide clients with a five-day delivery, Unique’s clients gain the benefit of a three-day pickup and delivery. Underpinning much of Unique’s efficiencies is the Omnix Transport Management Solution running on an IBM System x server and the IBM Informix® Database on the Linux operating system.

Business need:
When the Casotti family purchased Unique Express in 2004, the goal was to establish the company as the country’s most reputable and reliable coast-to-coast transport management companies. Managing Director Paul Casotti recognised that in order to achieve that, Unique required a computer-based transport solution that would encompass everything from client self-service and fleet management to financials and remote access.

Solution:
Full integration between warehousing and transport, allowing an end-to-end distribution system and improved client service through a more rapid response and full range of on-line self-service capabilities. Unique Express implemented a comprehensive Omnix Transport Solution running on an IBM® System x® server and the IBM Informix® Database on the Linux operating system. The end result was a dramatically better management of driver and vehicle resources, saving tens of thousands of dollars per year.

Results:
The end result was a dramatically better management of driver and vehicle resources, saving tens of thousands of dollars per year.

Benefits:
• Eliminated time and personnel resource overheads required to manage a paper-based system • Improved warehouse management • Better utilisation of on-road resources • Established a more effective B2B relationship with clients • Tens of thousands of dollars savings in operating costs.

Case Study

Smart is...

Full integration between warehousing and transport, allowing an end-to-end distribution system and improved client service through a more rapid response and full range of on-line self-service capabilities.

Smarter Transportation: Profile of an intelligent transport system
Instrumented: Drivers are equipped with PDA devices where they can receive jobs directly on the run. Once on-site for delivery or pickup, the drivers scan label barcodes, which have been generated by the client using their web based interface, and capture signatures on their PDAs.

Interconnected: The system is used to transmit pickup and delivery details immediately out to the field. The relevant data is then sent back to the system from the PDA so that it can be viewed on-line by the client.

Intelligent: Rather than simply allocate the job to the nearest driver, though, the Omnix dispatch system, SendSmart, applies built-in logic, taking into consideration factors such as job priority and vehicle type/size requirements. Making it even easier for the drivers is the system’s intelligent filtering and resorting of their run, based on priority codes and location.


A member of the Unique Transport Services Group, Unique Express is widely recognised as one of Australia’s most efficient and technologically advanced transport management companies. The company focuses on the Perth-Brisbane run and, where its competitors typically provide clients with a five-day delivery, Unique’s clients gain the benefit of a three-day pickup and delivery. Underpinning much of Unique’s efficiencies is the Omnix Transport Management Solution running on an IBM System x server and the IBM Informix® Database on the Linux operating system.

Looking to technology for a solution
When the Casotti family purchased Unique Express in 2004, the goal was to establish the company as the country’s most reputable and reliable coast-to-coast transport management companies. Managing Director Paul Casotti recognised that in order to achieve that, Unique required a computer-based transport solution that would encompass everything from client self-service and fleet management to financials and remote access.

Prior to taking full ownership of Unique Transport, Mr. Casotti had already devoted several months in his previous transport company evaluating market offerings. “The majority of systems I looked at were Windows-based,” he says, “and the speed and integration simply weren’t up to what I was looking for. Omnix was the only company at that time offering an integrated server-based system that had the features and benefits we needed.”

With the groundwork already laid, it was only a matter of weeks from the time of taking over Unique that the Omnix Transport Management Solution was installed and running; and since then, the business has continued along a strong and steady growth path.

Enabling the client
Key among the benefits afforded Unique by the Omnix solution is a streamlining of administration and operations – a streamlining that is potentially saving the company well over $1,000 a week. According to Mr. Casotti, the streamlining and subsequent savings are the result of not just one Omnix feature, but the combination of many. Take for example the integration between each of the software’s main modules, which ensures that once the details of a job are entered into the system, the data immediately carries through to all other relevant areas, such as financials and operations.

“Just with the once-only data entry requirements, we’re saving anything up to a full day every week,” Mr. Casotti says. “Of course, the other big advantage is that it brings down the chances of data entry error that occur when there’s a need to enter the same data multiple times. Add to that saving the fact that an increasing number of our clients are using the Omnix client self-service capabilities; and that further reduces our admin load.”

With the Omnix Web-based client self-service (e-Smart) functionality, Unique clients are able to log on to the system and upload files detailing their job requirements. “Omnix e-Smart is actually making it easier and more cost-effective for us and our clients.” Mr. Casotti says. “From the client end, they’re able to access our system via a Web browser, book jobs, as well as track each job and, after it’s been delivered, who signed for it. From our side, where staff would otherwise be devoting enormous amounts of time to taking bookings over the phone, answering client queries and re-entering data into various disparate systems, personnel time is more focused on our core business.”

Dealing easily with the difficult
Not every job is a straightforward pick-up and delivery by means of any available vehicle. Due to Unique’s growing reputation within the transport industry, the company is often called upon to do jobs that require specific vehicles; and this is where Omnix once again proves its worth.

If, for example, a client requests a job requiring a 13.5 metre truck with a drop deck, the depot’s operations manager simply keys the specifications into the Omnix system and automatically a list of matching vehicles, along with their availability, approximate location and current load is displayed on screen. “The whole process takes a few seconds,” Mr. Casotti says, “and it means we’re providing a much more agile service to our customers than we could have ever hoped to have provided if we’d gone along the manual, paper-based system that so many other transport companies are still adhering to.”

Making the operations side of the business even easier are the sideby- side job and fleet screens. As jobs are entered into the system or received direct from clients via e-Smart, the details are automatically populated to the on-screen operations job list. From there, the operations manager can quickly and easily allocate each job to any one of the available Unique vehicles.

“Essentially,” Mr. Casotti says, “these features have eliminated the guesswork about vehicle location and availability, and are helping us provide clients with a level of service that positions us well ahead of the competition.”

A more agile business
Even in the face of economic downturn, Unique is a company that is now well positioned to expand its operations while many others are downsizing or, at best, ‘consolidating’. Again, Mr. Casotti points to the company’s Omnix Transport Solution as being instrumental in that positioning. He explains by way of example: “Recently, we established a new depot in Melbourne. Typically, this would have meant employing at least two people to manage the sales, operations and administration. We did it with one person and a single PC, which connected via the Internet to the server in our Brisbane depot.”

Yet with all that, Mr. Casotti sees the company as being at the stage of having exploited only some of the Omnix potential. “One of our main goals is to see Unique as being fully digital,” he says. “The Omnix Transport Management Solution gives us the ability to eliminate all the paper-based processes; and it won’t be long before everything – from job bookings right through to delivery receipts – is handled at the digital level.

“The savings and improved efficiencies we’re achieving through Omnix and IBM have, from my perspective, put this company in a front runner position in the transport management industry."

Why IBM?
Interestingly, when it comes to discussing the IBM System x server and IBM’s software technology on which the Omnix software is running, Mr. Casotti is almost casual in his appraisal. “Well, it’s been running for five years without a hitch,” he says quite matter-of-factly. “In fact, even though the server is absolutely mission critical, it’s just so reliable that we don’t even have an IT manager. We have a local IT specialist who comes in once a month to check the PCs, and if there are any issues arising from the IBM or Omnix software, the staff at Omnix address them before they have any impact on the business.

“But for the server, it doesn’t need anything. It just keeps on running.”

Solution Components

Hardware

  • IBM System x

Software
  • IBM Informix® Dynamic Server Express
  • IBM Websphere® Application Server Express
Services
  • IBM Global Technology Services

For more information

Contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner.

Visit us at: ibm.com/au

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
System x, System x: System x running Linux - Red Hat

Software:
Informix Dynamic Server Express, WebSphere Application Server - Express, Informix Dynamic Server

Operating system:
Linux

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Australia Limited 2010 ABN 79 000 024 733 © Copyright IBM Corporation 2010. All Rights Reserved. IBM Australia 55 Coonara Avenue West Pennant Hills NSW Australia 2125 TRADEMARKS: IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, System x, Websphere, Informix, smarter planet and the planet icon are trademarks of IBM Corporation registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Other company, product and services marks may be trademarks or services marks of others. †”Business Partner” is used informally and does not imply a legal partnership. This customer story is based on information provided by Unique Transport Services Group, and illustrates how one organisation uses IBM products. Many factors may have contributed to the results and benefits described. IBM does not guarantee comparable results elsewhere. IBM is not in a position to verify the accuracy of the information or any claims made by third parties. Subject to any rights which may not be excluded or limited, IBM makes no representations or warranties regarding non-IBM products or services. References in this publication to IBM products and services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates.