ORLANDO, Fla. — Growing trucking companies invariably face obstacles that must be dealt with. Finding additional freight can be a problem and so can having more available loads than trucks. As growing carriers transition from start-ups, automated dispatch and billing systems become more attractive.
Unfortunately, many smaller carriers find it difficult to absorb the costs of expensive transportation management software.
Sylectus offers a Web-based subscription solution to all of these problems, and more. The company operates as a business unit of Qualcomm Canada and is based in Windsor, Ontario.
Like purchased fleet management software, Sylectus automates dispatch and tracking of trucks and drivers as well as billing functions to customers. The product also provides critical summary data to help carriers comply with regulatory reporting, track income trends and other purposes. A high-speed Internet connection is all that is needed to begin using the product.
Sylectus integrates with Omnitracs, PeopleNet and other communications products, so it can be implemented into current systems. Beginning 12 years ago with 12 companies, Sylectus has grown to a network of 13,356 trucks, according to the company’s website.
Because the software is Web-based, there’s no initial cash layout for a carrier. There’s no contract, either; subscribers pay month to month and can utilize the service as long as they want. The software, however, offers other advantages that other transportation management products don’t.
Because it is Web-based, Sylectus can facilitate resource-sharing among subscribers. That’s an advantage to when one carrier may have a load, but no driver in the area to pick it up, while another carrier may have a truck right down the street that needs a load. Since the load is already in the Sylectus system, it can be dispatched directly to the driver without cumbersome reentry of the load information.
Both carriers can then track the load in Sylectus, as can the shipper. After delivery, the original carrier bills the customer and the delivering carrier bills the original carrier the agreed-upon price.
“It’s all based on trust,” says Stu Sutton, president of Sylectus. Each carrier can choose which other carriers have access to their data, so they know they’re doing business with someone who won’t try to steal their customers and drivers.” Much like choosing “friends” on Facebook, a carrier can ensure that only other carriers that are trusted can see their available truck or load information.
A key advantage, says Sutton, is that carriers can expand into new geographic areas or provide different types of trailers for their customers before investing in new equipment and drivers. Partnering with other trusted Sylectus subscribers, for example, means a van carrier doesn’t have to turn away a flatbed load offered by a valued customer. Instead, the load can be offered to a Sylectus member that has flatbed equipment, taking care of the customer’s needs while benefiting both carriers.
Sutton points out, however, that the service isn’t a typical “load board.” “Relationships are key,” he says, “and we encourage our members to develop relationships with other members who can complement their operations. The company asks subscribers to complete quarterly surveys that rank other members in the areas of performance, payment and overall trust. Sylectus publishes the names of the top 10 members, to encourage interaction with other carriers and provide incentive for members to provide good service and quick payment.
Subscribers also have an opportunity to comment on the performance of other members, detailing areas where top performance was provided as well as areas that need improvement.
Most Sylectus members have fewer than 300 tractors, and the average size is 40 trucks. Sutton says they will work with carriers of any size, even down to just a few tractors, as long as the company operates under its own authority and is not leased to another carrier.
“We provide our members with the power to grow,” Sutton said, “by helping them provide services to their customers by partnering with other trusted carriers instead of turning freight away or investing in new equipment.
Sylectus combines statistics from member companies and posts reports on their website that track numbers of loads vs. truck numbers, comparing them both to the Dow Jones average for the period. Graphs make it easy to identify changes in capacity.
Sylectus makes it possible for smaller carriers to have the same transportation management software features that larger carriers enjoy and partner with other trusted carriers to keep trucks rolling and customers happy.
More information is available on the company’s website at sylectus.com.
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