Temperature controlled logistics provider McCulla (Ireland) provides ambient, chilled and frozen logistics solutions throughout Ireland, the United Kingdom and Europe.  Established over 50 years ago and operating from sites in Lisburn, Dublin and Mallusk, McCulla is leading a move toward environmentally-friendly transport and runs vehicles fuelled with biomethane gas produced by the company’s own anaerobic digester plant.

McCulla first deployed software from Freeway a decade ago initially to build an asset register and manage workshop scheduling, and later it was extended to manage stores and purchasing.  With the fleet expanding to 120 vehicles and 210 trailers and increasing moves toward digitisation, McCulla embarked on a further stage of automation in January 2018.

At this stage McCulla realised Freeway could be used for more than just the fleet and was seen as ideal for use as a more general asset management system.  So, other assets – everything from plant to warehouse racking have been added to the system.

In the workshop, technicians were being equipped with tablets for paperless working. Rolled out in 2018, this has transformed the workshop and has been central to a programme to improve the management of compliance.

Meanwhile McCulla accelerated system integration work with Freeway seamlessly interchanging data with McCulla’s Sage accounting software, their Mandata TMS traffic system and a driver mobile app.  Now through the Freeway and Mandata connectivity, transport planners have an instant view of vehicle availability and if any of vehicles have any outstanding defects or scheduled workshop bookings.

The integrated driver app meanwhile is used for driver coaching, infringement sign-off and defect report.  The app interlinks directly into Freeway on all defects that are recorded during driver walk-around checks. This means the workshop has immediate visibility of any defects so a supervisor can assess whether the vehicle can be used or not.

“Freeway is integrated with accounts, transport management and driver mobile devices to provide a seamless flow of data.  This not only eliminates paperwork and keying-in but crucially it gives an instant view of workshop activity and schedules,” says Brian Beattie, Operations Director, McCulla. “It means everyone is always fully aware of the availability and status of every asset, 24/7 and that is genuinely transformational for McCulla.”

Each technician has their own individual workshop tablet that creates job cards, defect fault and rectification against each job card.  Freeway stores all records for all our assets and has a planned maintenance schedule for each asset group.

“The main benefit we have seen since moving to this fully paperless process is better and easier management of compliance,” says Beattie. “All inspections, services, MOTs and fridge motor inspections are planned using Freeway, making scheduling easier and more reliable because the potential for human error is removed.

“And because reported defects come through instantly to our vehicle technicians and planners, we are able to be proactive in rectifying them,” Beattie says. “This results in reduced downtime and better vehicle safety because we catch problems early. We avoid compliance failures because we can VOR a vehicle with a critical defect within minutes of the issue being discovered.

“We also have more data about our fleet’s health than ever before so we can track repeat defects on vehicles or components and we can better plan our fleet replacement strategy.”

McCulla has long been a pioneer in sustainability and one on the many assets managed by Freeway is their anaerobic digester plant and associated equipment.  This plant creates electricity and HGV fuel from food waste.

McCulla has also deployed Freeway for managing stores and for procurement; not just vehicles and parts but also across hundreds of items used throughout the business such as office consumables.  The integration with Sage meanwhile sees invoice-matched purchase order data pushed automatically from Freeway to Sage and matched to the relevant cost centres and nominal codes, removing the requirement for double entry.

“With real-time data being freely interchanged we now have a very high level of visibility of the performance of the fleet and everything else we maintain and purchase,” Beatie explains. “That’s something we just didn’t have before.  It means we can make much better-informed decisions when it comes to optimising our resources and controlling costs.”

The implementation of Freeway software at McCulla was managed by Genie Insights. The County Antrim-based fleet technology company, which is Freeway’s partner in Ireland, has also supplied McCulla with solar panels to provide supplementary power to refrigerated trailers.

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