Affordable SaaS offering will ease truckies' pain

Smaller freight operators offered online transport management system

Auckland-based ICOS, a logistics software company, has recently launched a software-as-a-service offering aimed at smaller players in the freight industry.

ICOS LIVE is an online job booking and dispatch system that gives users easy access any time, anywhere, says ICOS’ managing director, Kathy Ross.

Many of the smaller carriers in the freight space can’t afford full transport management systems (TMS) and so run their businesses manually, “writing on bits of paper, their legs and arms, trying to capture job bookings”, says Ross.

“They are often working 24/7 trying to make a living, and staying on top of their paper work by working late into the night. Or their wives spend hours each month trying to decipher dockets which have been returned from the drivers — if they haven’t lost them,” she says.

The dockets have often been stomped on or are stained with coffee, she says.

These smaller operators are also being squeezed by larger carriers and are in desperate need of an affordable freight management system to remain competitive, she adds.

Using the SaaS offering, smaller carriers can operate their business from their vehicle, from home or even from the beach, using just a laptop and a wireless internet card, says Ross.

The system, which was developed in-house, allows users to follow freight online — rather than having to make phone calls and wait for someone to get back to them. The status of each job is updated with each action and is reported back to the system.

Users can allocate jobs to a sub-contractor and view its action acceptance, pick-up and delivery online. The system can also print PDF reports by jobs, truck, delivery location, date-range, future jobs and revenue per truck.

ICOS LIVE exports information to Microsoft Excel, for importation into an accounting system. An EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) function that will enable integration with accounting systems, such as MYOB or Xero will be available soon, says Ross.

The system also has a mobile feature. Jobs can be allocated to a mobile device in the vehicle, says Ross. The current version of the software integrates with Navman’s mobile device but the next version will include support for on-glass signature-capture from a PDA. ICOS is presently in discussions with Motorola about this feature.

The hosted system is available for a monthly fee. It involves no installation or server costs, no user licence or data back-ups and is compatible with both Windows and OS X, says Ross.

Ross started the company together with her partner, Chris Grace, 17 years ago.

“Chris passed away five and a half years ago and I have carried on the business,” she says.

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