Know the Score: Consistent Wins for Ron Finemore Transport with ORBCOMM

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You can’t win the game if you don’t know the score. That’s a motto that Ron Finemore Transport works by. ORBCOMM’s telematics solutions have been key to helping Ron Finemore Transport win the game through driver scorecards, vehicle utilization, maintenance planning and the ability to access and integrate data from all parts of their business.

The business

Serving Australia’s east coast, family-owned Ron Finemore Transport has a fleet of approximately 260 prime movers and 500+ trailers, and operates seven days a week. The business runs strategic logistics hubs in cities including Wodonga, Wagga, Orange and Goulburn to service their customers in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide efficiently and effectively every day.

The Ron Finemore Transport business is principally in the transport of food and retail products from manufacturers to distribution centres and from distribution centres to stores. They also transport petroleum-based products from refineries and storage facilities to service stations and fuel depots. As one of the safest and most reliable fleets in Australia, Ron Finemore Transport looks to ORBCOMM to maintain its stellar record in fleet safety, customer service and fuel economy and use of data.

Darren Wood, General Manager of Technology and Innovation

The challenges

Before they chose ORBCOMM, Ron Finemore Transport had a number of aims. They wanted to access data from their fleet and use it to enhance operational efficiencies, reduce the cost of fuel through more efficient driving styles, use driver scorecards to ensure safety and reduce the financial burden of refrigerated load claims. They also wanted to use data from the telematics platform to provide insight into key metrics within the businesses’ operations.

With a fleet of 700+ assets transporting goods across nearly the entire east coast of Australia, it needed a full end-to-end solution of robust hardware, and intuitive and in-depth software, along with some time to work on bringing in some changes.

General Manager of Technology and Innovation, Darren Wood says he was impressed with the level of data available through the ORBCOMM system and the difference it could make in their fleet. Wood says there were three key reasons for using ORBCOMM’s solutions. “The driver performance scoring (tool) was second to none at the time and we still believe it’s the best in the market. Two, vehicle performance scoring has provided and continues to provide valuable insight into the type of equipment we should purchase for different contracts in our business. The third part was the ability to access the data and then use that data to integrate into other parts of our business.”


The solution

Ron Finemore Transport has worked with ORBCOMM’s telematics solution since 2014 to deliver its fleet’s driver safety and drive scorecard reporting, operational efficiency and excellent customer service.

As a long-term customer, Ron Finemore Transport sees ORBCOMM touching nearly every corner of the business. Wood says, “everything we’re doing is focused on providing insight into driver performance and driving style, fleet performance and efficiency, and ultimately getting the data out of the system or using the system-generated reports to understand our key business metrics.”

The volume, speed and accuracy of data flowing through the system is vital for the company’s successful operations. “You can’t win the game if you don’t know the score. We always refer to that sort of analogy when we talk about any part of the business. If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” says Wood.

ORBCOMM’s technology stack is intrinsically linked with the smooth running of the Ron Finemore Transport fleet:

BT 500 powers ORBCOMM’s truck management device, providing complete visibility, live combination weight monitoring and management of drivers, vehicles and displays.

BT 320 is an advanced temperature monitoring device for refrigerated trucks and trailers, with two-way reefer control, maintenance scheduling, temperature compliance data and EBS connectivity for weight, odometer and fault code data.

BT 120 is a reliable, accurate dry trailer tracking device with robust external door sensors, real time alerts and EBS connectivity for weight, odometer and fault code data.


The results

Better safety and fuel economy by improving driving habits

Driver behaviour means different things to different companies. For a driver-first business like Ron Finemore Transport, safety is the number one concern. Monitoring performance scores helps to contribute to the safety of the fleet by identifying and helping to correct at-risk driving behaviours. Having an up-to-date weekly scoreboard for each driver builds a continuous improvement environment.

By monitoring driving in the truck, the system produces a score for each driver and each trip. ORBCOMM’s system monitors drivers in 26 categories like harsh braking, harsh acceleration, speeding and use of cruise control.

ORBCOMM’s Unique Anticipation Feature Anticipation measures the time taken before the brake is pressed after a driver lifts their foot off the accelerator. Each of these events is banded together and analyzed. The data is then compiled to deliver an Anticipation score. A lower Anticipation score is better as it suggests that the truck driver is anticipating the road ahead.

Better fuel burn is a natural outcome of monitoring and coaching drivers through driver scorecards. Ron Finemore Transport focuses on the management of fuel cost by reviewing and acting on driver scorecard information. Wood says, “the key thing for us is management of fuel economy. It’s still the largest cost in our business by far, after wages. Anything we can do to improve the driver fuel efficiency is where we focus our attention. All the other benefits that come from that are natural. So, if you can improve a driver’s focus on touching the brake, or looking ahead, anticipating what’s next and using cruise control, then naturally you get a fuel benefit and improved safety.” The data derived from driver performance scoring opens a dialog with drivers, Wood says.

“The KPIs from a driver performance scoring perspective are fuel burn, anticipation and brake applications. These three things combined, when interpreted in the right way, give our driver trainers the opportunity to have sensible discussions with drivers about their driving style and opportunities to improve.”

Darren Wood, General Manager of Technology and Innovation at Ron Finemore Transport

Using fuel burn data to inform equipment specification

As part of its continuing objective of streamlining operations, Ron Finemore Transport has put a strong focus on understanding its fuel burn per vehicle to inform its truck specifications. Initially, the company compared like-for-like trucks in Australia and Europe and found the fuel efficiency significantly differed. By using the fuel burn data in tandem with other system data, Wood says, “We attempted to reconcile the difference (between the costs of running our Australian truck fleet and those used in Europe).


Maintaining maximum uptime

With a range of vehicles in a high-utilisation fleet, it’s important to Ron Finemore Transport to maximise its uptime to deliver a safe and reliable service for customers. ORBCOMM’s maintenance management feature maximizes the uptime of vehicles and eliminates over-or under-scheduled maintenance. If a driver notices an issue, and something goes wrong, then the maintenance team is also prepared. Vehicle uptime is managed with programmes that monitor real-time logs, diagnostic data, alerts, and fault codes.


“I think it’s fair to say there were lots of spreadsheets before. Now that we keep maintenance up to date in the ORBCOMM system, we schedule reports to our operations teams on a daily and weekly basis. We’re getting information; we’re servicing our equipment on time and we’ve cut out a whole heap of waste associated with spreadsheets,” says Wood.


The right vehicle for the right job with vehicle performance scoring

One of the unique elements that Ron Finemore Transport has taken from using the ORBCOMM solution is the insight into using the right asset for the right job. Wood says vehicle performance scoring has been delivering a far better understanding of their fleet. “It has provided and continues to provide valuable insight into what type of equipment we should purchase for different contracts within our business.”

In accessing deep vehicle analytics, the company has been able to refine its fleet specifications to fit their business objectives. Wood says they can now access data that was inaccessible before using ORBCOMM’s solutions. The company mixes it with other data from its transportation management system (TMS) to “gain valuable insight into how different vehicles operate, and how best to get maximum performance out of them.”


Helping Ron Finemore Transport to keep its cool

Transporting food products is not without its challenges. Products need to be kept at specific temperatures throughout the journeys. By implementing ORBCOMM’s temperature tracking and reporting, Ron Finemore Transport was able to substantially reduce the cost of claims. “We had claims in excess of half a million dollars per year. We believed we hadn’t done anything wrong, but because we didn’t have the evidence to support it, we ended up paying. The year after we implemented BT 300s into the business and started tracking the temperatures in real-time, we had minimised our overall claims cost.”

This, says Wood, was also a key element in growing their business. “In the Australian market at that time, we were one of the only companies in the country tracking temperatures in real time. It gave us an advantage over our competitors. It allowed us to build our refrigeration business from where it was back then to what it is today. What we do, we do extremely well, and we can validate our cargo temperatures instantly, which is great peace of mind for our customers.”


Opening a world of data

The ability to use the data has made a significant difference to the business. The volume and depth of data available through ORBCOMM’s systems has opened new avenues for Ron Finemore Transport, “we pull a mountain of data out of the system using the API and feed it into our data warehouse to interrogate and use,” says Wood.

Data is at the heart of operations in Ron Finemore Transport and is in the arteries running through every part of the business. “We use a whole plethora of daily and weekly reporting out of the system for management of our fleet. We use workshop modules to capture service intervals. We have scheduled reports that come out on a daily basis for our operations team.”

As well as historical reporting, Wood says Ron Finemore Transport relies on real-time systems management. “As much as possible we try to report in real time in all of our systems. We therefore rely on data coming out of our API into our data warehouse. We interrogate that data using robots and other tools to determine departure and arrival times.”

“Our fallback position is always reporting out of ORBCOMM in the instance where we need to validate information. This provides real-time status updates for every shipment in our business. We now use that data to marry against the trip information in the TMS, to determine arrival and departure times at each of our stops. Then we use robotic process automation to update our TMS using ORBCOMM data. Getting that data in real time for us is critical and feeds through then to many of our other systems.”


The future

In addition to meeting their requirements today, Ron Finemore Transport has big plans in store for its fleet and the ORBCOMM team is looking forward to being part of it.

The ORBCOMM team is working closely with Ron Finemore Transport in developing an electronic work diary (EWD). An EWD system monitors and records work and rest times of drivers. “That will allow us to implement a fatigue management regime that is more flexible for our drivers and will give them a better outcome at the end of the day.”

And, of course, there is a focus on using data in new and exciting ways. Electronic Braking System (EBS) module trailer information is one area of focus. EBS Trailer Weight monitoring monitors load and unload events, maximum vehicle weights and alerts to overweight events and this is providing new focus in the company. “More recently we’ve been exploring EBS information and where that’s applicable in our business. We’re getting great insight into payloads on our equipment, which helps us better understand the fuel burn.” says Wood.

Many like Ron Finemore Transport have been able to leverage data to “keep score” on their fleet operations. To learn more about the value of driver performance scoring, schedule a demo with our team today.


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