Zebra Portable Printers and Motorola Handhelds Streamline Gasoline Delivery for McMahon Cartage Drivers

portable printer streamlines gas delivery

Chicago-based gas delievery company reports significant savings from online ordering system, Motorola handheld computers, and Zebra portable printers.

The Challenge

Delivering roughly 5.5 million gallons of gas every week to over 300 gas stations is a job that requires efficiency and accountability. With 32 drivers to oversee in this task, McMahon Cartage—gasoline hauling and delivery company in the Chicago area—was looking for ways to streamline the delivery process, make life easier for the drivers, and improve accountability at the same time.

John McMahon, vice president of McMahon Cartage, explains the old process, “A gas station owner called the distributor; then the distributor called us and we entered the load into the system; finally, we called the driver to give him the information. Each delivery had to go through four people before it made it to the driver. As a result, there was a lot of miscommunication and wasted time.”

The number of steps and people involved provided too much room for errors, and no way to easily track orders. This led to a lack of accountability and conflict among staff, as well as drivers getting lost on their routes, or sometimes writing down the wrong gas station on an order. This meant as much as $30,000 being taken out of someone’s paycheck for billing inaccuracy. Scheduling drivers was a time-consuming task, since McMahon was worried about giving drivers locations that they were familiar with, hoping to help them focus on safety and efficiency rather than getting lost or consulting maps.

The Solution

ADSI, an integrator of wireless, bar code and mobile solutions, assisted McMahon Cartage in providing the solution, which was a new online ordering system that also supported delivery scheduling. The web-based program, called Digital Fuel Solutions, saved roughly 50% of the time being spent in the ordering process. Customers and distributors could order online, ensuring an accurate transmission of the order details.

Motorola handheld devices were given to drivers so that they could access the order information directly, and portable printers from Zebra enabled them to print receipts on the spot, which prevented future errors and illegible handwriting. The handheld and portable printer were easily integrated with the Digital Fuel Solutions software, and McMahon says it only took about two hours for drivers to learn the new system.

The Zebra RW 420 portable printer (pictured right) met the IP54 dust and water resistance rating, and could sustain extreme temperatures in either hot or cold weather.Zebra portable printer rw_420 The portable printer could print invoices, delivery receipts, sales orders, service estimates, and inventory management, and was completely mobile with no wires attached.

McMahon states, “Our drivers love the Zebra portable printer because it saves them time and is virtually error-free. The problems with the old system that oc­curred when a driver wrote down the wrong delivery information have been completely eliminated with the printed receipt. The drivers also comment on how surprised they are that the receipt’s image never smudges, even if it is folded in half.”

The Motorola PDA also saved time and headaches, especially by providing drivers access to Google Maps for easy directions. The handheld’s Weather application provided daily forecasts and driving conditions. Another favorite app for the handheld was the Mobile Alert application, which let McMahon give his drivers a heads up about safety warnings or other notifications about their route.


McMahon explains the benefits of the portable printer and handheld, “The system is much more efficient because we can now schedule based on geography. In addition, the drivers’ paperwork is 80 percent faster—a huge plus for drivers, who can spend more time concentrating on driving then doing paperwork.”

Feedback from McMahon’s customers has been positive as well, with one distributor sharing how the new online ordering system saved them up to 42 man hours a month on just one entry.

McMahon now has access to reports and can create forecasts on how much gas he will sell, greatly improving inventory management. Payroll, customer billing, and communication were also greatly improved.

Most impressively, the McMahon was able to eliminate an entire shift of dispatchers, reducing that department by 55 percent, and saving the company $3,500 per week.

Read the full case study here.


Written by Erin Thayer

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