Rotala plc has successfully rolled out a group-wide purchasing and stock management system connecting the group’s four regional bus and coach companies. Supplied by Freeway Fleet Systems, the development will benefit Rotala’s Preston Bus, Hallmark Connections and two Diamond Bus operations. With streamlined processes, increased buying power and easier cost control, the system is expected to provide significant cost savings.
The cloud-based purchasing and stock management software is part of a comprehensive fleet management solution from Freeway that Rotala is implementing group wide as a complete digital system replacing paper. Freeway provides a central asset management system that incorporates paperless working in the workshop using rugged tablet devices.
Rotala is expanding its business through acquisition; most recently with the purchase of First Manchester last year adding 200 buses to a fleet that is now in excess of 700 vehicles. Incorporating new operators provides particular challenges and Rotala see the standardisation of business processes and IT as crucial.
“Standardisation is vital for us and this is where Freeway plays a key role,” says Jack Dunn, Finance Director, Rotala PLC. “Our regional operations all had different systems, processes and suppliers so we have initially deployed Freeway in stores and purchasing. By using the same software it ensures everyone adheres to the same procedures and quality standards.”
With the system implementation Rotala has also employed a Procurement Officer to oversee the streamlining of parts purchasing with improved processes, centralisation and automation to reduce administration, management time and costs.
“Freeway gives us enterprise-wide visibility with management reports that allow us to make well informed decisions. Initial evidence suggests we’ll be able to reduce parts costs by between 5 and 10 percent, saving at least half a million pounds a year,” Dunn says.
Freeway’s system is also being implemented in the workshop allowing the collection of data on parts used and their performance. “With instant access to maintenance histories we can assess the performance of different vehicles and parts and pinpoint where we need to review things,” Dunn adds.
Freeway has been integrated with Rotala’s corporate IT system and with OCR invoice scanning, Rotala has introduced a completely paperless accounting system. From an initial defect report entered into a tablet in the workshop there is a seamless paper-free process from parts request to order and invoice payment.
The tablets used in the workshop synchronise with a central management system to provide a real time insight into the engineering operation and the Diamond Bus workshop in Dudley, West Midlands, is the first of four locations to benefit from the system.
Freeway is used to manage workshop scheduling, inspections, defects, jobs and compliance. Rotala is also using the system to assess time spent on jobs and idle time to help monitor individual productivity, improve work allocation and optimise the use of resources.