Widen Your Margin on Every Gallon Sold
The propane industry faces a challenging winter. As it descends on much of the country, the industry must safely transport propane to its destinations while ensuring the safety of employees and customers. Additional training and safety equipment may be required, but those extra steps will likely decrease efficiency and negatively impact profits.
Technology can help transform your business, driving efficiency and improving profits despite these new challenges.
Degree-day forecasting is gaining efficiency by performing optimal fills. Drivers have been doing their own calculations for years, but a centralized software system does it better. Each driver could spend 15-30 minutes a day just recalculating burn rates. Software can do the job in seconds. A central software system ensures all information is documented, not leaving the most pertinent information on how to deliver to customers undocumented or with each driver. Having a system in place that re-calculates burn rates with every delivery is key to improving operations and can enable companies to eliminate 1-2 stops per customer every year compared to a standard 30-day delivery cycle.
Tank monitor readings accurately determine when customers with unique usage patterns need deliveries. Integrating the readings into your ERP automates orders so new orders are created when the tank reaches reserve levels. While tank monitors are becoming more affordable, it is challenging to place one on every tank. One option is to use tank monitors to recalculate burn rates with every reading. If the monitor goes offline, a delivery can still be forecasted based on recent usage. This also gives the option of rotating the same tank monitors across new customers to help get an accurate burn rate without waiting for three or more deliveries. After the second delivery, the tank monitor can be moved to the next customer, allowing you to maximize your investment.
Once orders are created at the office, communicating to drivers has traditionally been done via printed delivery tickets. In-truck billing can eliminate the need for costly preprinted delivery tickets while simplifying invoice production and reducing payment collection time. With an integrated system, a driver can have current information on accounts receivable, pricing, contracts, tank details, and more. ERP systems integrated with electronic meters can also prevent theft by reconciling on-truck inventory and meter totalizers.
Least Cost Routing
Least cost routing software analyzes all the deliveries you are planning to make and maps the most efficient routes for deliveries to reduce miles and time. The more efficient the routing, the lower the operating cost of each delivery. Least cost routing allows for more deliveries with the same number of trucks and drivers.
As you take a moment to reflect on how best to drive efficiency in this ever-changing world, consider the role technology can play. Investing in automation can help you increase deliveries with the same number of trucks and drivers, decrease the number of visits to customers without impacting service levels, and improve billing and payment cycles. These steps can help you thrive this winter and beyond.
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