Torq Energy: Moving Forward with Safety, Compliance and Planning
Torq Energy Logistics Ltd., headquartered in Calgary, AB, has been a leading independent energy logistics and midstream company in Western Canada since 2011. Torq operates an extensive multi-product terminal network with associated rail transload services, marketing, storage and trucking. Through its integrated products handling and transportation services, Torq provides its customers seamless “first & last mile” one-stop transportation solutions both from the well and to the well, for multiple energy related products (crude oil, sand, chemicals, refined fuels, condensate, water, NGLs and other energy related products).
For years, Torq had been looking for a solution in their trucking division that could help them streamline processes, switch from paper logs to electronic ticketing and use data to help keep their drivers safer on the road. As the industry continued to change, the team at Torq knew they needed to change along with it. They eventually selected AssetWorks Field Service Solution (FSS) for their field ticketing and electronic logging device needs.
Operations Before and After
Torq saw challenges on both the operations and the administrative sides of their trucking business. Torq‘s VP of Finance, Robert Reimer, saw how there were things that needed to be improved and gaps that needed to be filled. “From a time-related perspective, working in areas all over Alberta and Saskatchewan, the time it took to collect paper tickets and bring them into field offices was always posing challenges,” Reimer noted. “AssetWorks FSS allowed us to see data in real time. It speeds up invoicing, and in turn, we can speed up the payment from our customers.”
The ability to see data throughout the whole company was critical for Torq to make the best decisions possible for their trucking business, especially when it came to the safety of their drivers and fleet. “While we have safety supervisors out in the field doing audits on our fleet,” Reimer said. “Having FSS allows us to keep a closer eye on more of our trucks in real-time and collect more information on the current status of our fleet.”
This held true on the operations side according to Torq’s Director of Business Development, Tracy Bredahl: “Safety supervisors are able to look at statistics of different driver behaviors in real time.” Torq was looking for ways to best utilize their real time data and apply it to their operations. “Real time reports were critical in seeing how many cubic meters were hauled yesterday? How many loads were hauled?’” Bredahl said. “By setting them up in real time, we can use the information to make better decisions on certain runs rather than waiting until month end.”
Torq’s invoicing process for its trucking business also posed challenges. Like many companies, the process from finishing a job to getting the paper tickets back to the office, and then for the administrators to bill the customer, could take several weeks in some cases. “There were times when some drivers would hand in October tickets at the end of November. It would cause major delays in the invoicing process and ultimately the payment from the customer,” said Bredahl. By allowing drivers to submit everything through their tablet, this allows the administrators to process the tickets faster and helps speed up the billing time.
When deploying new technology for a business, the benefits will have to be considered for everyone that will be affected, not just the one small part of the organization that may be the specific target of the new software. Torq realized that many members of their trucking team were going to be using FSS in some capacity.
Reimer broke down how FSS will be used throughout Torq’s trucking business:
We’ll have a lot of people using FSS throughout the workday. Drivers will use the tablets in their trucks, completing loads. Dispatchers primarily are using the FSS system in real-time to see when the loads are being completed or dispatching new loads to drivers throughout the day. Safety Supervisors are looking at statistics for different driver behaviors and where they can improve. There are mechanics receiving notifications, like the check engine light and when to bring a certain truck in for service. On the administrative side, tickets are being completed and imported into the accounting system. We are then creating invoices and sending them to our customers. All levels of our trucking business are being touched by FSS one way or another.
Helping Stay in Compliance
Although Canada’s Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate is coming a few years after the U.S. ELD Mandate, fleets will still have to move on from a paper log system to ELDs. ELDs are intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers and help accurately track and share duty status records when needed. Many companies in the U.S. went for the quick, “cookie-cutter” approach. They quickly realized they should have done more research and used the opportunity to help benefit their fleet.
For Torq, they can use this as not just an opportunity to help speed up their processes, but also as the ability to stay in compliance. Canada’s ELD Mandate is set for June 2021, and in companies like Torq, there is a need to switch over to electronic driving logs to help stay in compliance and meet the necessary requirements.
“When looking at our needs, we had to consider Canada’s Mandate,” said Reimer. “The electronic tablets we’re using will help with that. There’s no separate program and it links right into FSS.”
ELDs help drivers and fleet managers create a more positive work experience that goes well beyond eliminating paper. The real-time data allows fleet managers the ability to see their driver’s status so they can decide on scheduling the next job and keeping their operations as efficient as possible. The added benefit of using analytics is a bonus, including the added safety features for the team.
Staying Ahead in Uncertain Times
In 2020, the oil and gas industry took a hard hit with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down operations throughout North America. Companies were cutting back on jobs and losing manpower due to the pandemic set back. “Demand was falling, there’s been a lot less activity in the basin, and most companies are focused on keeping their operating costs in check and managing cash flows,” said Reimer. “We view AssetWorks as being able to help assist us with that. By speeding up the time it takes to process a load ticket, we will ultimately be able to receive payment faster.”
“By transitioning our workforce to work remotely from home, it’s critical to handle less paper from an administrative and safety perspective,” continued Reimer. “Our drivers complete their ticket electronically and this allows them to avoid coming in to drop off tickets, speeding up the administrative side and allowing them to be in contact with a lot fewer people.”
Torq’s goals remained the same even before the pandemic. One key to implementing AssetWorks FSS into their day-to-day trucking operations was staying competitive long term. “Once we’re fully rolled out, we’ll be able to look at everything,” said Bredahl. “We’ll be able to see how long a run takes and compare it to the underlying hours charged in the cubic meter rates. We’ll be able to calculate the hours of the load to make sure they’re accurate and be able to stay competitive with bids.”
The Best is Yet to Come
Due to the delay of the pandemic and restricted traveling, Torq only has half of their fleet deployed right now using FSS. They’re hoping this will change throughout the next year. “With 2020 slowing things down, we have 70 vehicles in the field right now using FSS,” said Reimer. “We’re eager to get the rest of the fleet up and running to really utilize FSS and the data it can provide.” The AssetWorks FSS team will continue to help Torq fulfill their initial goals and help them during these unexpected times. Reimer explained how the company is already seeing benefits. “The early returns on AssetWorks FSS are quite positive. There’s a lot underway and it’s been a lot of hard work but we’re already starting to see real benefits across our fleet.”