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OnLine Magazine
November 2000, VOL 9, NO 3

Becoming One Company

Australia's Toll Group is turning its fragmented businesses into one integrated enterprise with Progress-built FACTS2000
By Betsey Showstack Young

Rapid growth comes with a price. For Toll Group, Australia's largest transport carrier, five years of mergers and acquisitions left the company with 13 disparate business units, each with its own information system.
Almost tripling in size over the past two years alone, Toll is now integrating its businesses - and using Progress-based FACTS2000 to do it. FACTS2000 is a freight management and tracking system developed by Carrier Logistics Inc. (CLI), a Progress Software ISV that builds software solutions for the transportation industry.

Amid changing customer needs and a technology-driven market, Toll wanted to turn its fragmented businesses into one integrated enterprise. The company's goal was to compete even more aggressively than it had in the past - by streamlining operations, slashing expenses, and improving customer service, according to Steve Zangari, Toll's IT project director.

"FACTS2000 will enable us to change how we do business," Zangari says. "It will support our process re-engineering and new business practices. It will give us total visibility of our operational data across our organization. And it will let us consolidate information, analyze our performance, and make better business decisions."

The Toll Group was founded in 1888 when Albert Toll began hauling coal with a horse and cart in Newcastle, Australia. Since then, the Melbourne-based company has grown to be the largest integrated multi-service carrier in the country, with sales of more than $1.36 billion (Australian) as of June 2000.

Toll offers a variety of transport services, including longhaul, less-than-truckload, truckload, overnight, and parcel delivery. Its 7,500 employees also provide warehousing, distribution, inventory management and logistics, as well as rail, sea, and specialized refrigerated services.

Following the recent acquisition of TNT's and Mayne Nickless' Australian transport assets, Toll Group began implementing its new FACTS2000 system. Toll's plan is to install it on a business unit basis - and ultimately unify management of its entire transportation network by June 30, 2001. FACTS2000 runs on a host-based Sun E 10000 system, configured to support 1,500 concurrent users on PCs using terminal emulation software.

The first phase of implementation began in February and was completed in July. It includes seven sites at Toll Tasmania, a business that provides pick-up, delivery, and consolidation of freight to and from Tasmania, a small island south of the Australian mainland.

Employees at all levels of the company will use FACTS2000 when it is fully implemented. They range from telephone operators who schedule pick-up and delivery, to fleet supervisors who dispatch trucks, to Managing Director Paul Little, who uses data to make strategic decisions.

With FACTS2000's mission-critical applications, Toll will share pick-up, delivery, tracing, and billing information across the company and within its vast network of suppliers and customers. "That will enable Toll to leverage synergies such as combining deliveries, consolidating invoices, and sharing equipment," Zangari says.

"By operating as one company, we hope to boost productivity, save on expenses, and eventually reduce our prices while increasing margins," he adds. "We also want to demonstrate to our customers that we are a technology leader in our market."

A Toll selection team chose FACTS2000 and Progress after an extensive search, first in Australia and New Zealand, and then in the United States. "We narrowed our search to four systems built in the U.S.," Zangari explains. "The functionality of the CLI system was greater than any other we reviewed. And the Progress platform was key."

Toll Managing Director Paul Little adds, "We are impressed by Progress's reliability, speed, high performance, and user friendliness. Progress also gives us the flexibility to custom-develop and modify applications to fit the individual needs of our customers, and support them in pursuing new business opportunities."

Before implementing FACTS2000, Toll used several versions of five incompatible management systems, each operating independently, across its 13 business units. Some customers received several deliveries a day. And others were sent up to 11 different invoices every billing period. "Now we will be able to consolidate our invoicing and achieve 99.5% consistency in our charges," Zangari says.

According to Little, "the trends toward fresh food delivery, Internet shopping, and just-in-time manufacturing have led to a shift away from conventional methods of retailing, warehousing, and distribution. They have prompted our customers and their suppliers to reduce their inventory and replenish stock quickly."

He adds, "customers now require smaller deliveries more often, reliable pick-up and delivery schedules, and the ability to track products at all stages. With FACTS2000 and the underlying Progress technology, we'll be able to offer all those services more cost effectively."

CLI Vice President Ken Weinberg stresses that FACTS2000 will give Toll a competitive advantage. "Today carriers are not just competing on how they move freight, but on how they use technology to move data and track information."

The flexibility and speed of Progress have enabled CLI and Toll to customize FACTS2000 at a reasonable cost, Weinberg says. "We can tailor our applications to fit Toll's particular needs both today and tomorrow as its organization grows and customer demands change."

Our applications include wireless communications, Web enabling, and imaging," Weinberg continues. "And we are adapting FACTS2000 to handle the specific terminology and tax requirements of an Australian enterprise."

FACTS2000 is giving Toll a core system that it can build other technology around, Zangari points out. The company is using other software from CLI and LINX , another Progress ISV, as well as building its own Progress and WebSpeed applications. They are all integrated with FACTS2000:

In partnership with LINX, Toll developed its own rating system for the Australian market. This highly structured system is designed to fully automate the billing process, based on each customer's specific freight requirements.

Also with LINX, Toll is developing an incident-management module to help the company respond to problems in the field.

Toll recently rolled out CLI's ROUTRONICS in its Toll Express business to help determine the best routes to transport freight to and from customers.

Toll is using WebSpeed for Web applications at Removals Australia, its e-business providing removal management and brokerage services.
In the future, Zangari says, Toll plans to use WebSpeed to develop software for on-line customer pick-up requests and tracking, rate, and billing inquiries. The company also plans to use Progress SonicMQ to develop its own mobile data and messaging solution.

In addition, Zangari reports, FACTS2000 and WebSpeed will provide a foundation for Toll to build a transportation portal under a new division called Toll Technologies. There, Toll plans to provide a business-to-business supply chain for e-commerce in the transportation industry. Companies will be able to find a range of information on transportation and logistics, as well as buy and sell services.

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