At this year’s NPGA Southeastern Convention, BASE’s own Jason LeVine, Director of Sales – Truck Automation, delivered a dynamic educational presentation: “What to Expect When Implementing Truck Automation”. Download the presentation here: NPGA 2015 BASE Presentation.
The latest issue of Butane Propane News focuses on the NPGA convention and the workshop where Jason presented!
Follow the link to check the e-version, or simply read below for the BASE section.
Jason Levine, director of sales, truck automation, for BASE Engineering (Saint John, N.B.), conducted an additional session in the Propane Delivery Automation Workshop titled, “What to Expect When Implementing Truck Automation.” The presentation focused on the project management involved with executing a truck automation system. Marketers buying an automation system should look at it as a project, not just a purchase, Levine noted. For many propane bobtail products such as valves and meters, the marketer can bolt the system on and walk away. He might not have to collaborate with anyone until something goes wrong. But executing products such as billing systems, inventory management systems, or fleet tracking systems involves dealing with more moving parts than a marketer can imagine.
“The idea is, this has to be managed like a project,” Levine said. “Like a civil engineering project, if you were to re-engineer the Hoover Dam, you wouldn’t say, ‘Build me a dam tomorrow.’ You want to have clear expectations, [and] understand what the scope of the project is. Even if you don’t believe it’s your responsibility, it’s good you’re educated on how and what to do. That will help the project move forward much smoother.”
Whether a marketer is switching to a new automation system or going to automation for the first time, it involves stress because you are in a sense changing the way you run your business. You’re changing the way the drivers interact with something in the vehicle, and you’re changing the way the accounting team interacts with a new piece of software in the office.
“This has historically been painful, and it’s better to be prepared for what to expect than to let that creep up on you. By the time the next November or even October arrives, you start getting ramped up for the next peak season, and you realize, ‘I waited too long to put the system on, and I’m still struggling,’” Levine noted. Planning should take place from contemplation to realization, answering questions such as who will install the product and how the truck builders are involved.
“If you have a road map laid out for you, you will feel more comfortable in all the discussions you have with the various vendors so you are not in the dark about ‘What are they talking about?’ ‘Why the delay?’ ‘Why are the lead times so long?’ These are all things you want to be aware of before you make the initial call to start discussing truck automation.”
Marketers should also identify a “champion” at their company to oversee the process. “The champion is the one who believes that without this solution, the project will not succeed, and at all costs will be the one that helps push through all the political issues both internally and externally.” In a small company, the owner might be the champion who makes sure the accounting team, the drivers, and IT staff have bought into the project. “Without a champion, I guarantee the project will not succeed, because when something needs to happen, you won’t have that one person who will drive meetings to completion [and] make sure everyone’s schedules are coordinated with the start-up.”