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Data analytics slashing costs for transport firm

2/06/2014 by


Identifying the profit margin on moving 130,000 loads of freight each month, spread across 600 trucks, was a difficult task for Queensland transport firm Followmont Transport.

Pricing pressure from larger competitors such as transport giant Toll Group, meant that Followmont needed to better understand how to maximise revenue from its freight movements. The company also needed to quickly identify why certain customers were taking their business elsewhere.

“Margins are always tight in transport,” says CIO Paul Smith. “Determining the margin on a load of freight is very difficult without knowing the consignment note details on that load, and it does vary depending on the size of the cartons and pallets.

“Followmont has been a successful business for 30-odd years; however, not knowing where we are missing out on revenue… was what we decided we needed to tackle.

“We didn’t understand where we were losing out,” he says. “There’s too much data; we carry 2 million consignments – how do you know which one is going to be losing you money?”

Followmont uses a custom-built transport management system – developed by Brisbane firm Omnix – to generate freight data but the software doesn’t do data analysis.

Deploying a business intelligence system that would provide deep insights into company-wide data was the answer. In late 2013, the company deployed SAS Visual Analytics to enables executives and branch managers to analyse information on the fly using real-time data visualisations.

The initial roll out was not without its teething problems – achieving the best performance from a BI tool running in a virtual server environment was a challenge, says Smith.

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