Trailer Magazine

Eastern Plant Hire

  • Posted on Thursday 30th, November 2017
Eastern Plant Hire

The Uberification of Australia’s commercial road transport scene has already begun, as Eastern Plant Hire’s innovative workflow management app is proving.

Since news broke in October 2016 that US ride hailing service, Uber, is planning to venture into the commercial freight market, transport businesses around the globe have been on high alert.

Even though the distinctly humble management team behind Eastern Plant Hire (EPH) – brothers Michael and David Willson – would likely not admit to it, the Melbourne-based family operation might be one of the most progressive and interconnected transport businesses in the world.

Inspired by the rapid rise of the smart phone, an in-house team of software engineers went on to develop an app for both Android and iPhone that would revolutionise EPH’s allocation and administration workflow. “We usually have 500 or more different operators – both sub-contractors and company drivers – going to jobs every morning with tippers, water carts, sweepers and earthmoving equipment. The app allows each of them to log in and advise of their availability, and we are able to send push notifications of jobs which they can accept or decline,” Michael says. “It’s effectively what Uber is trying to replicate on a giant scale.

When getting loaded, the driver simply pushes a button on the app, which in turn drops a pin on Google Maps. They then do the same thing when they tip off, so detailed records are kept of time, date, latitude and longitude for each loading destination, Michael explains. “The app has refined the process from booking and allocating the job right through to invoicing. The driver and a representative of the client are able to sign off at the end of the day via phone or tablet.”

In combination with the company’s very own mini-Uber system, EPH may have thus created one of the most intricate digital ecosystems in modern-day Australian road transport – setting the benchmark high for online brokerage services like Uber pushing into the hands-on world of “mud carting”, as Michael has it.
“What many don’t see are the small, yet all-deciding complexities that make our business so hard to predict,” he says.

“It would be great to have a business like a school bus where we knew what we were doing every day for the next 10 years or so. But with what we do, everything is in constant flux, and the technology we use has to adapt to that reality, not vice versa.”

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