Take the Reins for 2017 With Technology
If consolidation, cost management, bidding for contracts or all of the above are on your mind as things you want to do (or do better), why not take some inspiration from a bus company’s that’s done all three successfully in the south?
Introducing Ventura Bus Lines
Ventura Bus Lines is the largest bus operator in Victoria and Public Transport Victoria’s most reliable bus service provider in the state. They are also the preferred supplier of numerous Melbourne schools, Metro Trains and Yarra Trams.
Having expanded from a one-bus operation into the largest family-owned bus company in Australia, Ventura operates extensive fixed route and charter services including 131 public transport routes, school charters, rail or tram replacement services and group tour transportation.
Staying ahead of the competition
We can all relate to increasing pressure to be better, faster and more cost-effective in the face of fierce competition for government contracts. Not only do you need to provide the most competitive solution in the market, you’ve also got to make sure that the services you’re promising to deliver are actually profitable for your business to run – and do all of this quickly.
Ventura’s Managing Director, Andrew Cornwall, is a third-generation leader in the bus industry and he foresaw that the company needed to change in order to keep its place at the top of the market. The business needed to get more done while using fewer resources and reduce inefficiencies in every area possible.
“We needed to run leaner, become more efficient and find new ways of increasing revenue and adding value to our clients,” Andrew said. “We needed to get creative about how we were going to keep growing the business and stay ahead of the competition.”
Optimisation: the key to efficiency and effectiveness
The first step to achieving Ventura’s goals of becoming more efficient was to optimise the business. The bulk of this was in network planning, where Ventura hoped to save costs by reducing dead running, optimising driver shifts and reducing fuel and maintenance costs by straightening out routes.
Manually planning a network in today’s environment is complex, time-consuming and extremely limited. Ventura chose Trapeze Group’s Planning & Scheduling solution for its superior optimisation capabilities and ability to incorporate a large number of complex parameters and conditions into its calculations, such as industry award rates, union agreements, enterprise bargaining agreements, government health and safety regulations and company policies.
“With the Trapeze Planning & Scheduling solution, the rules and regulations are written into the system,” explained Steve O’Callaghan, Ventura’s General Manager Network Planning. This has completely eliminated human error in many areas of the planning process, saving time and money and allowing Ventura to respond faster to requests for tender.
The software’s reporting capabilities also gave Ventura more visibility on how the business was tracking and where deficiencies were. The Network Planning department was able to analyse whether there was too much dead running or idle time and take steps to rectify the situation, allowing Ventura to save on fuel and maintenance.
The optimisation process at Ventura is ongoing, with the Trapeze Planning & Scheduling software used to create what-if scenarios and forecast the costs and benefits of various ways to carry out a service.
“You could never do something like that manually, it’s hard mathematically to bring everything together,” said Steve. “The algorithms in the system allow you to cut to the chase extremely quickly and start optimising whatever it is you want to optimise: buses, drivers, kilometres.”
Good data and business intelligence
Like many other bus companies, Ventura underwent consolidation after merging with several other operators. This left them with multiple legacy systems and record-keeping methods that were slowing down staff and introducing costly inefficiencies across the business because information was disjointed or disconnected.
To get the whole company onto one system, Ventura chose Trapeze Group’s bus-specific Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system because it enabled integration across all departments, like Operations, Charter, Workshop, Fleet, Payroll and Finance. As a bonus, it also integrated with the Trapeze Planning & Scheduling system for a true whole-of-company system.
As a result, Ventura was able to employ the COUNT (Collect Once Use Numerous Times) principle, which reduced data entry, eliminated tedious tasks for transferring data and minimised human error. Processes are streamlined, productivity is increased and duplicate systems were retired.
“The data is much more dependable because everyone lives in the Trapeze ERP system now,” said Omar Najmeddine, General Manager Rail / Business Systems (pictured). “We can now pull out reports and be really sure that the information is accurate."
“Collecting all that data has helped us understand and optimise the business as we grow and go forward.”
Innovate your way to profitability
Ventura’s experienced staff have found numerous other ways to creatively use the technology at their disposal to benefit the business. Among their achievements are reducing driver turnover, finding new sources of revenue and improving staff’s ability to manage charter customers.
To learn more about Ventura’s innovations to be more competitive, read the full case study.
Article written by Trapeze; Originally published in QBIC News, issue December 2016.