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Bulk fleets turn to OnTrax for ‘transformational’ wash planning, scheduling

April 13, 2023
Two years after its debut, Quala’s proprietary web-based platform now processes 1,800 tank-cleaning service requests per day

OnTrax will transform the planning and scheduling of tank container cleans. Or at least that’s what Quala’s leaders have passionately maintained since introducing the proprietary web-based system two years ago.

Now, however, soaring adoption rates indicate bulk fleets are equally enthused.

The container cleaning and maintenance company reports 90% of its customers today are using the technology to submit requests, track washes, and communicate—all in real time—helping Quala process 1,800 units per day across 80 locations.

“It’s a gamechanger because there aren’t any other service providers out there who can deliver customers this type of technology and user-friendly interface,” said Ke’Scha Gaines, vice president of quality and operational excellence at Quala. “And it’s exciting when you can bring something that has tangible material value to the market, impacts issues that are so important to customers, and helps us be better, too.”

Project development

Quala’s IT development team, which also maintains the mobile-friendly system, began developing OnTrax as a complement to Quala’s Openbravo enterprise resource planning software in 2020 to keep pace with a rapidly changing industry in need of digital solutions. “With our growth, we needed to make sure that we stayed on top of providing the high level of service our customers demand,” Gaines explained.

To finetune the system, the company first introduced OnTrax internally, and with key “guinea pig” customers, before rolling it out for all fleets in January 2021. Now OnTrax is “an absolute necessity” for many customers, said Dan Schimel, a regional operations manager at Quala, who was part of the development team.

Gaines credits the scheduling system’s simplicity for its rapid adoption. OnTrax also is convenient and checks all the boxes in a modern service world, from confidence-building visibility and data, to consistent responsiveness and wash accuracy. “In the transportation and logistics industry, efficiency, speed, and reliability are mission critical,” Gaines said. “So, as the No. 1 provider of cleaning and maintenance solutions to the industry, the ability to offer customers a powerful means of communicating and planning is huge.”

Mutual benefits

Tidewater Transit, a 2014 National Tank Truck Carriers safety champion, was one of the first carriers to experience the OnTrax platform.

Now it’s an indispensable tool for the Kinston, North Carolina-based carrier, which uses OnTrax to quickly input wash requests, and track equipment through the entire process. “Now something that would take hours at a time is taking me literally minutes,” said Mark Ripley, a dispatcher at Tidewater’s central office. “But the biggest thing is the peace of mind. Being able to get that communication, and knowing that equipment’s been washed, and you’re not going to have a problem [is big]. Our customers are very demanding. Deadlines are important—and knowing that equipment is ready to go is very important.”

OnTrax also is helping Tidewater reduce dwell times. “We pay our drivers tank wash pay, so when they’re there, they’re on the clock,” said Jimmy Winegar, Tidewater central dispatch manager. “So, by us being able to let Quala know when they’re going to be arriving, and what time they leave, that cuts down on their time sitting and waiting, but also helps our bottom line because we’re not paying them as much to sit and wait.”

Wash planning is easier for customers, and scheduling is easier for Quala, helping it decrease turnaround times by an average of 40% since the 2021 rollout of OnTrax, Gaines said. “A lot of that is the reduction in idle time—the time spent trying to process an order, and transmit the communications around that request, whether it was by email, fax, or phone call. All those tasks are significantly streamlined.”

Other benefits include fewer processing errors, the flexibility to “right-size” equipment pools via upgraded utilization, and the data generation that enables Quala to refine its processes and better serve fleet “partners.” “We use the data we capture from the system to drive our continuous-improvement initiatives,” Gaines said. “It helps us do deep-dive analyses on trends, look at the KPIs that measure our performance, and study usage patterns; and we evaluate all this information regularly and routinely, and in real time.”

Enhanced features

After receiving access to OnTrax, customers can log in, enter their contact information, and begin submitting and tracking service requests. Wash plans automatically are generated based on the type of container and last product held, but users also can provide personalized instructions or make custom requests. Quala reviews requests to see if they can be accommodated, or must be modified or updated, then notifies fleets when they’re accepted. “If we have questions, we have workflows set up in the system where we can relay those questions or ask for any additional approvals that may be necessary,” Gaines said.

For smoother cleaning service, Quala also is integrating OnTrax with customers’ transportation management systems through electronic data interchange (EDI) connections—a key feature Terry O’Brien raved about. “I can’t stand going to a portal for this and a portal for that,” Quala’s president said. “It can get cumbersome in the daily grind of work. So, what we’ve been able to do for a number of customers is tap into their transportation management system, and now it’s seamless for them. When they dispatch a truck to Quala, we know what the product is, what time they need it by, and all those types of details.”

Quala managed non-conformance reporting manually at launch. Now it’s embedded in the OnTrax system. “That allows us to respond to fleets’ concerns faster and more effectively, and take immediate action to address them,” Gaines said. OnTrax also has helped Quala reduce its non-conformance incidents by 20% per 1,000 washes by eliminating “mix-ups” in the transfer of information and rapidly correcting mistakes.

And Quala isn’t done tweaking OnTrax, and looking for the next best way to revolutionize container cleaning. “There’s still enormous potential associated with this technology—and we’re examining those opportunities,” she said.