Kathy Ross knew there had to be a better way of sending freight around our cities. In partnership with her late partner Chris Grace, the founder of Auckland-based Icos Group, Kathy spent twenty years servicing transport operators with one-off software solutions, more than enough time to discern an industry pattern of inefficient routing, needless trips and revenue leakage before founding Icos Live.
“A lot of operators I saw were cash-flow and time poor. They all lost revenue and didn’t even know it, because important consignment papers would be flying out truck windows, being stomped on by drivers or having coffee spilt on them. And there was no track-and-trace going on, no signature capture, no date-and-time stamping”
Backed financially by an aunt, Ross launched Icos Live (the name is an acronym for Internet Cargo Operating System), a web-based, software-as-service solution for transport and logistics firms that handles everything from online ordering through to electronic proof of delivery. Five years on the business is thriving, with 1000 trucks in New Zealand signed up, and 50 in Australia. “We’re transforming the way transport operators do business, taking them into a totally paperless world,” says Ross.
Importantly, the benefits are not being felt solely by her customers. More efficient truck movements means less fuel wasted, and less traffic on our streets.
“Our scheduling system enables jobs to be assigned to trucks in priority order, which helps the efficient routing of vehicles,” says Ross. “Trucks aren’t being driven here, there, and everywhere, which is definitely saving on fuel and emissions and reducing congestion.”
The key word there is ‘efficiency’. From a world where orders were keyed-in by a dispatch team, an error-prone and time consuming process, Icos Live customers are able to book online, with updates relayed back in real time. Dispatchers can organise jobs more rationally, eliminating the old industry blight of short-shipments and lost consignments. Out in the field, drivers receive their job orders and capture signatures for proof-of-delivery on tablets and smart phones.
Tony Gare, General Manager of Dunedin-based transport and logistics firm Icon Logistics, says his firm is living proof of the green benefits. In combination with a fuel-efficiency focused driver education programme, introducing Icos Live helped to save 6000 litres of diesel over a four month trial period, says Gare.