INVESTMENT in new tracking technology has enabled a South Wales-based international transport and haulage operator to significantly reduce the size of its trailer fleet and streamline operations.

TDW Distribution runs one of the largest palletised freight and distribution operations in the UK from its head office located five minutes from the M4 in Bridgend. The firm’s 90 strong fleet of commercial vehicles clock-up more than seven million miles a year delivering to customers in the food and beverages, manufacturing supplies and building products sector throughout the UK, Channel Islands and mainland Europe.

The family run firm, which is a Palletline member, carries out nationwide deliveries for customers Tesco, building products suppliers Rockwool, and Seda Packaging among others.

Employing a skilled workforce that includes 110 drivers and turns over in excess of £18m this year, TDW used to have a trailer 250-strong trailer fleet before it adopted tracking technology from transport management software specialists, Mandata.

The installation of small tracker devices, which are attached to the headboards on each unit, has proved a beneficial investment, enabling the firm to cut its overall trailer fleet by 10% – down to 210 over the last 12 months.

An enhanced trailer tracking capability has now become an invaluable part of TDW’s operations in a move that has seen dozens of devices connected up to a web portal and tracking app, which operates via the Manpack 3 Transport Management System (TMS).

This technology has provided improved real-time visibility, enabling the fleet management team to see where trailers are at any given time. This facility is ensuring that they are not lost or left standing idle for a number of days at customer premises or are used as stand trailers, costing the firm money and draining resources.

Robert Williams, TDW’s managing director and son of Tommy Williams, who founded the firm back in in 1963, believes that it would be ‘extremely hard’ to manage without Mandata’s tracking behaviour technology.

We would find it difficult to operate without it now,” he says. “Although it’s difficult to fully quantify cost savings, the technology, which is good, easy-to-use and reliable, has been a welcome boon.

The information provided in real-time enables us to source any empty trailers and locate units for inspection. In this way, we have been able to review our resources, and identify that we could reduce the fleet to run a leaner operation.

In turn, this has seen a reduction in trailer numbers of 10%. Any savings that this has provided in buying new stock and maintenance can be ploughed back into the business to ensure customers continue to receive a high quality service.”

Specifically developed for the road haulage and logistics sector, Mandata’s TMS brings together operational information into a single PC or cloud-based system that links to vehicle and driver smartphones out on the road.

The technology, which simplifies the planning of work, tracks operations and monitors driver behaviour and vehicle performance levels, automates critical processes. This removes time-consuming repetitive tasks, providing fleet visibility in real-time and alerting operators and drivers to any issues.