Temperature controlled logistics provider McCulla (Ireland) has spent the last decade digitising its entire operation, with Freeway Fleet Systems’ asset management software at the heart of its IT infrastructure.
McCulla has digitised its entire operation including transport management and fleet management software, vehicle tracking and telematics, live vehicle CCTV, warehouse/stock management, temperature-monitoring and proof of delivery data capture, leading to a range of operational benefits.
McCulla first deployed software from Freeway initially to build a database of its fleet assets and to manage workshop scheduling, but later extended the use of the system to manage stores and purchasing as well. Its use of Freeway has been supported by Genie Insights, Freeway’s Irish implementation partner.
In the workshop, technicians were equipped with tablets for paperless working. Rolled out in 2018, this has transformed the workshop and has been central to improving the management of compliance. Each technician has their own individual workshop tablet allowing for defect faults and rectification to be carried out against each digital job card. Freeway stores all records for all assets and has a planned maintenance schedule for each asset group.
Connectivity Across the Business
Over the last 10 years, McCulla has been moving towards further digitisation and automation, using Freeway as the central system for seamlessly interchanging data between each of its transport systems. Data flows between Freeway and McCulla’s Sage accounting software, its 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 vehicles have outstanding defects or scheduled workshop bookings.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
Managing More Than the Fleet
More recently, 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.
McCulla has long been a pioneer in sustainability and one on the many assets managed by Freeway is its 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,” Beattie 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 progression of the Freeway software usage at McCulla has been assisted by Genie Insights. As well as overseeing integrations with other systems, Genie Insights personnel have been on-hand to train McCulla staff to ensure the company continues to get the best from the system and to provide a seamless and stress-free transition throughout all stages of the digitisation project.
Genie Insights has also supplied McCulla with solar panels to provide supplementary power to refrigerated trailers.
Matt Reeve, one of the Genie Insights team that has worked with McCulla on its Freeway journey, had this to say:
“McCulla is a great example of what we can do with Freeway when the customer has a desire to fully integrate it across the business. It is a pleasure continuing to work with McCulla to see how far they can take the Freeway system, from the early days of using Freeway as a standalone tool to manage maintenance scheduling to today were the system touches almost all areas of the company’s asset management and procurement. We will continue to look at further ways to support McCulla to get even more from the software and the business processes that it affects.”
McCulla (Ireland) provides ambient, chilled and frozen logistics solutions throughout Ireland, the United Kingdom and Europe. Established more than 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. The fleet has expanded to 120 vehicles and 210 trailers.