Truck fleet replaces two-way radio with 3G and thin clients

3 broadband cards and mobile phones cheaper than ADSL and landlines

Furniture removalist company MiniMovers is in the business of mobility. With a fleet of more than 100 trucks and support vehicles operating across the eastern states of Australia, its communication system has to be as mobile as the furniture.

As a result, the company decided to replace its two-way radio system with a 3G network.

According to MiniMovers IT manager, Jason Arthur, the business had experienced annual growth of more than 40 percent over the last five years.

"We had captured 95 percent of the short distance domestic moving market in south east Queensland and we recently set up operations in Melbourne which is a fairly mature market," Arthur said.

"Our next move was to take on the Sydney market. To do this we needed to improve job management processes by upgrading our mobile communications technology."

Arthur said the two-way radio system was only good for its Brisbane operations.

In Melbourne, the fleet coordinator communicated with drivers via mobile phone as two-way radio transmission from the company's Brisbane-based depot did not extend to the Gold Coast, Melbourne or Sydney.

"Communicating with drivers via mobile phone was expensive and unsustainable," Arthur said.

"We needed a mobile solution that would enable drivers to receive job information quickly and reliably. We wanted to streamline job management and deliver productivity gains."

To determine whether 3G was the solution, the company conducted a trial arming selected staff with 3 Mobile broadband cards and thin client PC terminals.

"We could see immediately that the cards and mobile PC terminals would deliver big productivity and cost savings to the business," Arthur said.

MiniMovers made the decision to fit out its entire fleet with thin client terminals and 3 broadband cards providing 10 senior staff with laptops and 3 cards.

The company also deployed a 3 mobile broadband card in one of its Melbourne depots where no fixed phone line was available.

"Using wireless mobile instead of fixed lines saved the company in costly line rental expenses and gave users the flexibility to connect anywhere, anytime," Arthur said.

"It is actually cheaper for us to use broadband cards and mobile phones in our depots than ADSL and landlines."

The PC terminals in the trucks connect to the company's central database via 3's network. Using the PC's touch screen, the drivers can access the job management system. All administrative tasks, such as billing, job status updates and customer service reports, can be done anywhere.

Staff can also communicate with fleet coordinators via the PC terminal without having to talk on the phone.

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