For more than eight decades, Wilson’s Truck Lines has provided innovative logistics and truck-transport services to customers in Ontario, Canada. The privately held company developed its fleet outsourcing model for the packaged goods sector—grocery chain Metro is its biggest customer—but that model applies to any industry, including retail and manufacturing.
Wilson’s has built its reputation on premium customer service, guided by its motto: “Never Say No.”
Having grown over the years—now managing several yards with 600-plus trailer trucks and four distribution centers—Wilson’s needed to enhance its understanding of logistics volumes and patterns in order to boost efficiency, standardize processes, and optimize costs.
The critical daily yard check to record trailer location, contents, weight, refrigerated temperature, and other factors used to take employees four to five hours of driving and walking around with a clipboard. By the time the report was scanned and shared with the staff in the distribution centers, it was already outdated. On top of that, none of the handwritten data was searchable or integrated with the internal Transportation Management System.
Meantime, drivers and supervisors relied on push-to-talk radios to request empty trailers and release truckloads, leading to confusion and potential costly mistakes, given the inherently fast pace of the operations environment. The verbal-only communication also posed challenges for supervisors and managers, who needed to monitor business performance and take corrective measures.
Initially, Wilson’s chose Amazon Web Services to host the solution, which was developed using the open source AngularJS framework and LAMP stack. Shortly after the first release, the delivery team realized that it was becoming increasingly difficult and time consuming to modify and add features without disrupting the system, which had quickly become the communications backbone between the DC staff and yard personnel. Wilson’s needed to find an alternative solution.
Oracle APEX and Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing have helped us reduce our overall system administration and development costs, while providing a highly available and scalable platform with end-to-end security.
Vice President, IT Delivery, Wilson’s Transportation and Leasing Group
Wilson’s Truck Lines decided to develop a new Shunt Management application using Oracle Application Express, with Oracle Autonomous Database. The company chose Oracle to accelerate time to value, lower administrative and development costs, and also boost availability, performance, and security.
Given APEX-native, data-driven components like Interactive Reports and Faceted Search, users are now able to slice and dice the data based on their specific needs, without involving IT.
Using Oracle’s Always Free program, which lets customers try Oracle Cloud databases, development tools, and infrastructure at no cost, Wilson’s whipped up an application instance in just 30 minutes. Then, using the Oracle Application Express (APEX) low-code development environment and Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing, in only two days the team built a pilot application that was equivalent to the one that had taken months to build with AWS.
That application enhanced and streamlined the tedious daily yard check by 50%, allowing workers with handheld devices to scan barcodes on all trailers and quickly enter details such as contents, availability status, and set temp, automating the entire workflow. Data gathered in the new digitized system is available in real time to all distribution centers. The data collected is time-stamped, geotagged, searchable, and kept for historical analysis, providing greater transparency and accountability across the enterprise.
The self-managing, self-patching Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing database reduced the company’s system administration and development costs, while improving availability and end-to-end security, thanks to automatic data encryption and advanced auditing.
Using Oracle APEX, Wilson’s can now deliver reports in days compared to the weeks or months it took with AWS. Now employees, from managers to fields workers, can see key performance indicators on dashboards that are available on desktops, tablets or phones, thanks to APEX’s responsive design. They can easily filter data in millions of records and drill down into more details to allocate resources more efficiently, as well as to forecast demand for food and other goods.