Marshall Babbitt came to LCT Transportation Services as director of maintenance in 2004 and discovered the truckload carrier had purchased Dossier maintenance management software from Arsenault Associates, but had never used it.
“The president said this might be a good time to implement it,” Babbitt recalled. “So I attended Arsenault’s Dossier classes in Orlando, then came back and implemented the program.”
Since then, Babbitt’s adept use of Dossier has had a major impact on LCT, also known as Lester Coggins Transportation, a commercial truckload carrier.
LCT runs 350 power units and 460 refrigerated trailers through 48 states and operates as a separate unit of Gainey Transportation Services. Dossier is developed and supported by Arsenault Associates of Burlington, N.J.
Babbitt cites parts inventory as a prime example of Dossier’s value.
“We were paying $68 for a brake drum four years ago,” he said. “Today, we pay $54.”
Such discounts are possible because Dossier tracks everything purchased by Babbitt’s 29-person department.
“I look at everything we bought and who we bought it from. I look at what was bought from each individual vendor, so I know exactly how much business we do with each one,” he explained. “I know who should be taking care of us and who should be providing training. And when I sit down with the vendor, I can say we’re spending this much with you a month.”
That encourages vendors to offer better prices and services, and it’s only the beginning.
“Every year, we pick the top 100 items that we purchased through the year and we put them out to bid,” Babbitt explained. “Here’s all my widgets, here’s how many I use, now give me your best price and you’ll be the preferred vendor. Of the top 100 items during 2007, 51 of them came back from this year’s process with lowered prices – same product, same manufacturer.”
Dossier also helps on the warranty side of the parts equation.
“Dossier tracks parts in use. If you install a part with a one-year warranty and go to replace it six months later, Dossier says, hey, this part is still under warranty,” Babbitt said.
There are a number of benefits in this regard, according to Babbitt. First, he said, the part is replaced by the vendor instead of being purchased again. Beyond that, Babbitt said he has been able to detect numerous bad components and prove defects to suppliers.
In another instance, when Dossier indicated that air filters were failing, he learned the problem was not the part at all. In fact, the shop was not replacing filters at the proper intervals, but leaving them in service too long.
“Of course, you can create reports that help you see problems without using software,” Babbitt said, “but if you try to do a report based on paper records, you get lost in it.”
Babbitt said Dossier has had another impact on LCT, which is a self-insured company.
“When you’re self-insured, you have to put specified amounts of money in an insurance account and auditors look at everything and assign risk factors. That’s what determines how much must be set aside,” Babbitt said.
Fleet maintenance is one of the elements an auditor considers when making the determination.
“The auditor is extremely impressed with what we do. We have a very high fleet utilization factor because our preventive maintenance program is so successful. And our DOT score is very low,” he said. The score refers to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safe Stat program, which quantifies carrier safety status. The lower the score, the better.
Much more than maintenance is involved in an insurance audit, according to Babbitt, but the bottom line is that LCT’s self-insurance set-aside has been reduced.
Babbitt has another reason for working with Dossier.
“When you call Arsenault for Dossier support, the person on the other side knows what they’re talking about. They’re not looking in a book. They’re not typing a question into a computer. They walk you through it. They suggest things you could be doing,” he said.
“Every time I call tech support, I learn a little something else,” Babbit continued. “What if you did this? And it will be a new idea, another way to make things better.”
Best of all, he said, “calls for Dossier support are about how I get Dossier to do this or that. They’re not about, hey, this thing is broke.”