For football fans, the next best thing to being in the stands is suiting up in their favorite fan gear before gathering in front of the television to watch all the action on the field. The game changer in televised football games is the use of an innovative robotic camera called SkyCam. The ability to move the camera anywhere within a three-dimensional space, as it’s suspended by cables high above the stadium crowd, puts viewers in the game, giving fans at home a bird’s-eye view. While the SkyCam may be the star of the show, it takes a team to win. For SkyCam, the starting lineup includes Landstar and James Rutledge’s independent agency that provides the transportation solutions, and on-time, claim-free delivery of the high-flying cameras.
Tackling the logistical challenges associated with variable destinations and quick turn-around times called for some creative plays in transporting the SkyCam gear during the 2017-2018 football season. The process started with a game plan for deliveries throughout the 13 weeks of Southeast Conference (SEC) college games and 17 Monday Night Football games. Managing the transportation solutions kept Rutledge and his team at On Point Logistics (JRX agency) in San Diego, California, as busy as the actual players in the games.
“We give the customer dependability, driver dedication and unmatched capacity,” says Rutledge.
The independent Landstar agent offered a complete logistics solution to SkyCam, eliminating any need for the company to turn to additional carriers outside of the Landstar network. One of the customer’s specific requirements was to always have a Landstar business capacity owner (BCO) carry the precious cargo. Finding the right BCOs, Rutledge says, was a key to meeting the customer’s expectations.
“The customer knows Landstar BCOs are the best professional drivers out there. The BCOs who do these multileg deliveries, essentially become part of the SkyCam team for the months they are on the road together.”
With the understanding that dropping the ball on an obligation to this customer would be the end of the game for his agency, Rutledge sought Landstar BCOs with the proper equipment and commitment to stay with the dedicated SkyCam loads for the duration of the season.
Landstar BCOs Paul Bass and Don Isler covered every Monday Night Football game, while Landstar expedite BCOs Carlos Alvarez, Josh Ruiz, John Smithers and Billy Tannehill ran with the SkyCam for the SEC college football games.
“By the end of the season, the BCOs became part of the SkyCam team. The relationship and trust these BCOs developed was priceless to the customer,” says Rutledge. “It gives the customer peace of mind and security knowing the same people are around and can be trusted with their equipment.”
Coordinating the Offense
After each game, the SkyCam crew and the Landstar BCO loaded up and immediately headed to the next destination. However, throughout the season the “game of the week” was subject to change based on game outcomes and team records.
“The last minute changes to the destination were the biggest obstacles we faced throughout the season,” says Rutledge. “We’d get a call mid-route to one destination and be told to turn the trucks around and go in the opposite direction,” says Rutledge.
Much like an audible play in the game, Rutledge had to be ready to run with the ball in a new direction when the “game of the week” suddenly changed. As the single point-of-contact for the customer, Rutledge communicated the changes, immediately tapping into Landstar’s resources to find the capacity needed to make the delivery happen. Landstar had additional BCOs on the bench, ready to team drive on the loads when a driver’s hours of service might disrupt delivery. In some cases, the load was handed off to another BCO and truck for the final leg of the run.
“We had to be ready for all possible scenarios and assure the customer, regardless of any last minute changes, we can still make the goal – safe, on time, every time,” says Rutledge.
After thousands of miles, months on the road, and successful deliveries to 180 football games, the end zone was in sight. Rutledge, his agency staff and the Landstar BCOs wrapped up the season knowing they delivered winning solutions for SkyCam.
“Now when we watch a game, or any sporting event, we look for that SkyCam footage. We know those cameras arrived and that coverage was possible because of the services we delivered,” says Rutledge.
Rutledge’s relationship began with SkyCam three years ago, and has grown to include managing SkyCam moves for soccer games, boxing matches, MMA events and Hollywood productions.
“If the customer had sourced each individual move instead of using Landstar’s capacity network and my agency’s logistical expertise, its costs would be significantly higher,” says Rutledge who further explains that his offer of dedicated BCOs in a package deal combined with his agency’s experience meant eliminating any extra cost of hiring a logistics specialist to coordinate the multiple moves.
“The customer counts on me to manage multiple loads, communicate with them and the owner-operators, and meet time and security requirements. All with just one point of contact. That’s a win for everyone.”
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