Investment in technology
During the late 1990’s, technology had just started to make bigger contributions to trucking companies’ infrastructure developments. ODFL’s then COO, David Congdon, recognized the power of technology very early and invested $9 to $15 million annually to upgrade Old Dominion Freight Line’s (ODFL) IT network and infrastructure. Since then, the company has gained a technological edge through a series of wireless automated dock and yard management procedures for its 117 service centers across the US.
Use of gadgets in operations
The company makes use of many gadgets such as Garvey guns to individually mark all cartons with the same customer number, deck trailers to create multiple levels inside, Dunnage air bags to cushion freight from any possible damage, and mobile computers to enable drivers to scan and capture real-time information during pick-ups and deliveries. This technology enables the company to manage global shipments more efficiently.
Implementing technology in operations
ODFL has implanted radio frequency identification (or RFID) tags to its entire fleet. As the trucks arrive at service centers, they are automatically identified by RFID readers that relay the information to the company’s dock yard management system. The software looks up the shipment information and determines how the load should be handled. Handling instructions are immediately relayed to switchers who receive their pick-up and handling instructions by a wireless transmission.
Supervisors also receive notification of arrivals in real time on their handheld wireless computers, which they use to view all work activity, redirect resources, and make updates as necessary.
The company also launched a dedicated website that offers its registered customers access to information like reports, payment, and enhanced tracing.
Other companies in the trucking industry include JB Hunt Transport Services (JHBT), Landstar Systems (LSTR), and Werner Enterprise (WERN). These companies are part of the First Trust Mid Cap Growth AlphaDEX Fund (FNY).