Taking the ‘E’ out of ETA

08 October 2018

Article reproduced by permission - Automotive Manufacturing Solutions, by Karen McCandless.

CDN’s VinDispatch app is a new cloud-based system that aims to replace estimated times of arrival with more accurate information about vehicle delivery

Traditionally, OEMs and vehicle-carriers have never been able to be 100% accurate about vehicle delivery times in the information they provide to dealerships, and dealers have often disregarded the information as a result. 

As one of the participants in a Q&A session at a recent Finished Vehicle Logistics conference observed: “The only person who truly knows when the delivery will happen is the driver”.

When Derric Hicks, general manager, North America, at automotive logistics platform Car Delivery Network (CDN), heard this comment by Wayne Waggoner, owner of Waggoners Trucking, it sparked a train of thought that led to the development of CDN’s VinDispatch app.

Launched earlier this year, VinDispatch is a cloud-based automotive logistics app available on Android and iOS that aims to overcome the issue of having to estimate delivery times by providing dealers with real-time, auditable information directly from vehicle delivery drivers about when vehicles will actually arrive at the dealership.

Using ePOD

For Hicks, electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) technology seemed the best way to provide accurate, trustworthy information flow between drivers and dealerships.

When the company was building the VinDispatch service, which has been developed so that any carrier or OEM can use it irrespective of their ePOD system, it focused on two major capabilities to ensure that the data used was accurate and flowed seamlessly between dealerships and carriers.

“First, the data must be timely and derived from the driver,” Hicks explains. “Second, the app for the dealer must be available via the web and on a mobile device for both driver and dealer to benefit.”

The VinDispatch app works by bringing together all the relevant information into one dashboard. This includes how many vehicles are planned for delivery, how many are in transit and their ETA, as well as vehicles that have already been delivered, those with damage and those that are subject to inspection.

“The app is pretty simple to use,” says Hicks. “The dealership receives a notification when an ETA is entered by the driver informing them of the pending delivery. The user can then drill down into greater detail about the load. And once the vehicles are delivered, they can view and print the bill of lading and access any pictures or damage codes recorded.”

All the data is securely encrypted and only accessible through a verified account so that no information can fall into the wrong hands. “To access the data, the user must log in and be associated with that dealership. All data is SSL [secure sockets layer] encrypted and accessed via APIs [application programming interfaces],” confirms Hicks.

Seamless data flow

VinDispatch is an extension of CDN’s existing products. It uses the data from drivers using the company’s VinDeliver ePOD app, which allows the sharing of real-time vehicle delivery between data carriers and dealerships.

Dealers using the VinDispatch app can access specific status information from a driver using the VinDeliver app. That status is either ‘delivered’ or ‘inbound’, the latter of which is subdivided into planned – the load has been built and sent to the driver; loaded – the driver has the vehicles loaded onto his trailer; or on-way – the driver is on his way to the delivery destination and has provided his estimated time of arrival.

“The ETA data allows the dealership to prepare for the truck arrival, while the vehicle identification number list allows dealers to identify fast-selling units or sold units so they can expedite their entry into inventory,” says Hicks.

More efficient delivery

According to Hicks, VinDispatch is not just about replacing paperwork and reducing admin for dealerships. The aim of the service is also to improve automotive logistics upstream and downstream processes by connecting the last-mile car delivery process. This will open up opportunities for carriers, OEMs and dealerships to collaborate, so they can make the way they work more efficient and make life easier for their customers.

“The value to the dealership is that they have information they can rely on,” says Hicks. “This is because the delivery information is coming from the person who is in the best position to know when they will be at a dealership – the driver. The app effectively connects the driver to the dealer.”

As VinDispatch provides dealerships with reliable information on delivery times, they can be better prepared for when delivery trucks arrive and can plan and execute all the associated processes more efficiently and effectively.

“The information in the app allows the dealership to make decisions around getting paperwork ready to receive vehicles,” says Hicks. “They can also make sure they have space ready for the inbound truck to deliver, help the truck and driver to get in and out of the dealership faster, see hot products and sold units in transit, be notified when an STI [vehicle delivered but still ‘subject to inspection’] happens, prevent an STI by knowing when the truck will arrive, and gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing they can always access the delivery paperwork. All this promotes a better experience for the dealer and the driver.” 

Global rollout

The VinDispatch app and portal are already live and in use by many dealerships under different OEM banners. It is available for any vehicle-maker to offer to their dealerships straight out of the box.

According to Hicks, usage to date has been driven by dealerships who want more – and more reliable – information regarding delivery. “Dealers are increasingly being occupied by millennials who expect information in app format, so the demand will only increase,” he predicts.

VinDispatch was first released as the WeChat app in China for CDN’s joint venture company Kaqu Delivery Network due to the specific requirements of delivery drivers and dealers in the country.

“In China, the geography is so vast, and computers are not as prolific, so putting the information on a mobile device was a necessity,” says Hicks.

The use of VinDispatch by carriers and dealerships in China has also driven the next enhancement to the app. CDN is working on adding a damage claim function that will involve the dealer, the carrier and the OEM claims department. It will allow the person receiving vehicles in the dealership to raise a damage claim, take photos, record the relevant AIAG (Automotive Industry Action Group) damage codes and submit repair estimates to the carrier or OEM.

“The key is to make sure that it takes out cost, improves the process and provides the right information to all the relevant parties,” says Hicks. “We don’t expect to replace the people or processes OEMs, dealers or carriers have in place today. Instead, the system will improve the information collected, the timeliness of the data captured and the auditability of the process.”

According to Hicks, demand in China for creating a damage claim in the app was a driver behind the development of this feature.

“Proof of damage and confirmation of delivery acceptance in a timely manner vastly improved dealerships’ processes, as they no longer had to wait for delivery of a paper claim, or for the claim to make its way back to the carrier in paper format,” he says.

CDN plans to have the damage claim feature available by the end of this year. 

Challenging the status quo

Hicks says CDN believes in challenging the status quo, simplifying automotive logistics, and embracing new technologies to bring innovative and open communication to the industry. And there is more to come, he promises. 

“The app is a further extension of what we do, connecting people and companies together, simplifying processes and helping to make our customers more profitable and efficient,” he says.

“We are passionate about technology and will continue to focus our efforts around the logistics of moving vehicles and challenging the status quo. ePOD is 10% of what we do but 90% of what we are known for in the USA, but this will change over the coming 12 months as we reveal more market-changing initiatives.”